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December 10, 2016 | 0 comments

Teus Hagen is a self-admitted product of the “flower power culture” of the 1960s and ‘70s.

And like many early Internet pioneers from that generation, it was his willingness to challenge authority – and break some rules – that played a crucial role in development of the global network as we know it today.

For Hagen, it started when he was a student assistant in the 1970s at the Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI), the Netherlands’ national research institute for mathematics and computer science.

Hagen says he was working on a complicated graphics project and looking for a better operating system when he found an article about the Unix operating system being developed by Ken Thompson. So, he sent him a letter. In return, Hagen says, he was given a free Unix license.

Armed with one of the first such licenses in Europe, Hagen initiated Dutch Unix User Group (NLUUG) and the European Unix User Group (EUUG, later called EurOpen).

But the system, he said, was in its very early stages and needed some work, and to keep it running, Hagen says, “we needed to interchange, exchange knowledge. We did so via the phone system using modems from the US.”

“To make that possible I created a dial-up system in the mathematics center,” he said. “But communicating...

November 22, 2016 | 0 comments

Able to read a webpage in Korean? You can thank Dr. Tan Tin Wee.

A 2012 inductee into the Internet Hall of Fame, Dr. Tan introduced the Internet to Singapore, led its first ISP and launched the country’s first website, a biological database.

His efforts in the mid 1990s opened up Internet access for millions around the globe whose first language uses a non-Latin alphabet, such as Chinese, Japanese and Arabic.  Prior to 1995, only ASCII characters could be displayed on online interfaces.

Dr. Tan was also involved in introducing the Internet to the disabled, including personally setting up modems, routers and network cards for the Singapore School for the Deaf.

In an interview with OpenGov, Dr. Tan said his efforts were in an attempt to facilitate access to information not only for himself, but for his colleagues around the world.

“At a personal level, it’s about making a difference in the way I think about information,” he said. “ From the perspective of my research community, the most important achievement was enabling researchers to search scientific data online with ease...

November 15, 2016 | 0 comments

If you are literate in the appropriate language, you can still read what’s written in the Lascaux caves, Sumerian cuneiform tables, ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics and many medieval manuscripts.

Meanwhile, their more recent successors—including photographs and modern books—are struggling to last more than a century before fading and disintegrating.

In a column for the October edition of Communications of the Association of Computing Machinery, Google Vice President and Internet Hall of Fame inductee Vint Cerf notes that modern popular forms of expression are showing signs of a shorter shelf life than their predecessors.

“As we move toward the present, the media of our expression seems to have decreasing longevity,” he wrote. “Of course, newer media have not been around as long as the older ones so their longevity has not been demonstrated but I think it is arguable that the more recent media do not have the resilience of stone or baked clay. Modern photographs may not last more than 150–200 years before they fade or disintegrate. Modern books, unless archival paper is used, may not last more than 100 years.”

For...

October 21, 2016 | 0 comments

The growing demand for streaming video has shifted the structure of the Internet and created an added hurdle for rural service providers in the process, according to a recent article in Quartz.com.  

Video now accounts for an estimated 70 percent of all Internet traffic, with more than 800,000 minutes of video streamed per second each day, with up to 40 percent of peak time usage attributed to Netflix alone.

In order to minimize or completely eliminate interruptions and the dreaded buffering wheel, infrastructure has quickly expanded in the form of content delivery networks, or CDNs.

These private networks are owned by the some of the world’s biggest tech companies, such as Facebook and Google, and a handful of firms that specialize in their operation, that run in parallel to the Internet’s core traffic routes rather than rely on a single centralized server. 

From Quartz:

“The shift has been so pronounced that nearly half of all traffic flowing over the Internet today actually traverses these parallel routes, according to data from research firm TeleGeography. ...

October 19, 2016 | 0 comments

Long a backer of the Internet’s democratic style, Internet Hall of Fame inductee Dr. Jun Murai is applying that culture – and his technical expertise – to monitoring the fallout from the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster.

It’s an issue that’s highly personal to him: he is a child of Hiroshima, where the United States dropped the first nuclear bomb.

“My grandfather was president of the Hiroshima University of Literature and Science, later to be Hiroshima University,” he said. “My grandfather, Arata Osada suffered by A-bomb in Hiroshima. My mother visited Hiroshima next day looking for her father. She was suffering from strong contamination. So they are tracking me, monitoring me, because I am a child of Hiroshima.”

Today, he serves as an adviser to Safecast, a nonprofit global network that collects and shares radiation measurements. The group has built Geiger counters and distributed them to volunteers in Japan to measure radiation levels.

The effort, he said, is crucial to ensuring that radiation readings are accurate, and shared with the public.

It’s a program, he notes, that could never be possible without the Internet, which he says allows scientists to easily share data as well as their ideas about accuracy and risk.

“It’s about powering the diversity of wisdom, and people working together to solve things,” he said. “We are not interested in money. We are...