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Blog Posts for 2012

July 9, 2012 | 0 comments

Geoff Huston, the gadfly who got Australia online, warns that address shortage could strangle the Internet.

Geoff Huston was born the year television arrived in Australia. But his parents wouldn’t let him watch. While he sometimes snuck away to friends’ houses with TV, Huston says his deprivation forced him to read. Through books, he developed a love of words, a love that oddly enough led him to become the father of the Internet in Australia.

The Internet Hall of Fame inducted Huston as an inaugural member for his crucial work to get Australia online in the late 1980s. While he’s honored to be included, Huston says the credit is overblown. He says he just happened to be the geek who could speak.

“When geeks came together, I guess I was just articulate about stating what we wanted,” Huston says. And what they wanted was simply to connect.

Back in the proto-Internet early ’80s, Huston says connecting wasn’t so simple. Network techs were locked in what he calls the “great protocol wars” over which was the best technology to allow computers to talk to each other. Then multi-protocol routers came along and made that debate pointless. Universities began building networks on their campuses. Huston and others believed the next logical step was to connect those campus networks together to make a...

July 2, 2012 | 0 comments

Before Nancy Hafkin came along, Internet in Africa hardly existed.

From the late 1980s until 2000, Hafkin worked for the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the branch of the United Nations focused on economic development in all countries in Africa. While working in Ethiopia, Hafkin began to notice that information was largely inaccessible on the continent. She decided to tackle that problem by launching the Pan African Development Information System.

“All the countries of the continent were supplying information to databases and we wanted people to access all the information stored in them,” says Hafkin. “At that time there was not a single public library in Ethiopia.”

One particularly slow exchange of information from Ethiopia to Niger took nine years.

The databases were set up to exchange data through low-orbit satellites, but at the time the satellites didn’t exist. If someone wanted to share the data, they had to fax it or send it through the mail. One particularly slow exchange of information from Ethiopia to Niger took nine years, Hafkin mentions in her Internet Hall of Fame induction speech. The painfully slow exchange of data pushed Hakfin, and her team to get a digital network set up in Africa.

Hakfin began to establish an Internet communication infrastructure in Africa by building email...

June 26, 2012 | 0 comments

Kilnam Chon brought the internet to Asia. And you’d have to say the move was successful.

In South Korea — where Chon led a research team that installed the first two nodes on Asia’s first internet protocol network — broadband connections are used in over 95 percent of households, a figure that eclipses every other country on earth. Singapore, Taiwan, and Hong Kong aren’t far behind, and all cast a shadow over the US, where broadband reaches about 60 percent of our homes.

Chon is also the founding father of multiple organizations that still drive the Asian internet — including the Asia Pacific Networking Group and Asia Pacific Top Level Domain Name Forum — and earlier this year, in recognition of his role in bringing the continent online, he was inducted into the inaugural class of the Internet Society’s (ISOC) Internet Hall of Fame, alongside such as names as Vint Cerf,...

June 18, 2012 | 0 comments

Before GoDaddy and Network Solutions and VeriSign, there was Elizabeth Feinler and the NIC.

From 1972 to 1989, Elizabeth “Jake” Feinler ran the Network Information Center at the Stanford Research Institute in Menlo Park, California — the place that oversaw the use of internet addresses before the arrival of commercial outfits such as GoDaddy and Network Solutions. If you wanted a domain name, you came to Jake.

The NIC was also the place that published the documentation and directories for the internet — well before it was called the internet. The Stanford Research Center, or SRI, was one of the original nodes on the ARPAnet — a network backed by the US Department of Defense that connected various research centers across the country — and in building the NIC and running it for 17 years, Feinler was among a small group of researchers who bootstrapped this government network into something that would one day connect one third of the world’s population.

Earlier this year, Elizabeth Feinler was inducted into the inaugural class of the...

June 6, 2012 | 0 comments

Sir Tim Berners-Lee is the reason you’re reading this story in a web browser, complete with hypertext and an internet address that looks like this: http://www.wired.com/wiredenterprise/2012/06/sir-tim-berners-lee/. But you weren’t supposed to see the address.

In building the first web browser at Switzerland’s CERN nuclear research lab in the early ’90s, the English-born Berners-Lee designed a system where only the technicians behind the scenes would see addresses. The ordinary web user would only see text and hypertext, jumping from page to page without ever typing on a keyboard.

“On the initial design of the web, you didn’t see the http:// when you were a user. You just read text and you clicked on links,” Berners-Lee tells Wired. “In the original web browser, you had to bring up a special link inspector to see addresses. That’s why I wasn’t worried about http:// being ugly. No one would really see it.”

As the web grew, this particular vision was lost — at least in part. But you’d have to say that the web still exceeded expectations. In 2010, according to the International Telecommunication Union, close to a third of the world’s population was using the web, and after beginning life as a means of merely sharing text, it has evolved into a medium that shares everything...