Educational CyberPlayGround ®

internet PIONEER Michael Hauben

This year, 2004, Columbia University in NYC is celebrating the 250th anniversary of its founding as King's College in 1754. As part of the celebration, nominations were solicited honoring alumni whose contributions were before their time. Michael Hauben was nominated for his research and writings concerning netizens and the Internet. The nomination was chosen for display on the website commemorating the 250 years of Columbia University. Accessed Here

The text at that website reads:

Michael F. Hauben
Columbia College 1995
Teachers College 1997
Internet Pioneer, Author
Michael F. Hauben (1973-2001)

While the prevalence and universality of the Internet today may lead some to take it for granted, Michael Hauben did not. A pioneer in the study of the Internet's impact on society, Hauben helped identify the collaborative nature of the Internet and its effects on the global community. Credited with coining and popularizing the term netizen (net + citizen), Hauben, with his mother, Ronda, co-wrote the seminal Netizens: On the History and Impact of Usenet and the Internet (IEEE Computer Society Press, 1997), which outlined the growth and role of the medium in the world and was published in both English and Japanese.

Born on May 1, 1973, in Boston, Michael Hauben was an early participant in electronic bulletin boards. He graduated from Columbia University in 1995 with a bachelor's degree in computer science; following that, he entered the program Communication, Computing and Technology at Teacher's College and received a master's degree in 1997. Of particular interest to Hauben was understanding the democratization of the Internet and the participation of netizens in the global community to build the Net. He viewed the Internet as a reflection of democracy at work. An editor of the online newsletter "The Amateur Computerist," Hauben gave talks on the Internet in locales ranging from Beppu, Japan, to Corfu, Greece, to Montreal, Canada, to the Catskills region in New York. After sustaining injuries resulting from an accident in December 1999, when he was hit by a cab, Hauben died in June 2001. A champion of the Internet, he truly was a netizen.

"I like to think of you as a netizen."

Review Michael died suddenly on June 27, 2001. He was co-author of the book
"Netizens: On the History and Impact of Usenet and the Internet" published in an English and Japanese edition and also available online.Through his interactive online research Michael coined the term "Netizen" and introduced it into popular use.In his 1992 article "The Net and Netizens: The Impact the Net Has on People's Lives" Michael wrote "Welcome to the 21st Century. You are a Netizen (a Net Citizen), and you exist as a citizen of the world thanks to the global connectivity that the Net makes possible. You consider everyone as your compatriot. You physically live in one country but you are in contact with much of the world via the global computer network. Virtually, you live next door to every other single Netizen in the world. Geographical separation is replaced by existence in the same virtual space."Through Michael's writing online the term spread around the world.In the Preface to Netizens, Michael wrote:"My initial research concerned the origins and development of the global discussion forum Usenet....I wanted to explore the larger Net and what it was and its significance. This is when my research uncovered the remaining details that helped me to recognize the emergence of Netizens. There are people online who actively contribute towards the development of the Net. These people understand the value of collective work and the communal aspects of public communications. These are the people who discuss and debate topics in a constructive manner, who e-mail answers to people and provide help to new-comers, who maintain FAQ files and other public information repositories, who maintain mailing lists, and so on. These are people who discuss the nature and role of this new communications medium. These are the people who act as citizens of the Net."His pioneering research led to his being invited to Japan to speak where he met Dave Farber and Michael appeared in documentaries about the Internet on TV Tokyo and had been frequently consulted to comment on the growing importance of this new democratic medium.He had been an active member of the online community since the early 1980s.When she learned of Michael's death, one of the founding members of the Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility wrote "I so regret the death of the original Netizen.""Netizens: On the History and Impact of Usenet and the Internet" was published by the IEEE Computer Society in 1997 and also appears in an online edition at

with great sadness and great respect,

Ronda Hauben
ronda at