By Dan Rosenheim
Ask Liane Tarouco what she likes to do besides work, and she doesn’t miss a beat.
“Work is what I like,” she says with a smile. “It is not really work for me. It is a pleasure to study, to discover new things.”
Studying, discovering and teaching new things are what Tarouco has consistently done during a long and distinguished career that has brought her admission to the Internet Hall of Fame.
From her initial book – the first text on computer networks to be published in her native Brazil and still regarded as a kind of Bible there – to her research, teaching and consulting throughout South and Central America, Europe, Africa and Asia, Tarouco has been among the very top contributors to Internet development.
“Since the beginning, when I started to see what could be done with networking, I dreamt of having a network that involves us all and could help us make better decisions in every aspect of our lives,” she said. “And that is becoming a reality more and more.”
While Tarouco’s stellar career has been international in scope, her origins are more provincial.
She spent her early childhood in the south Brazilian town of Cerro Largo, “a really, really small place at the time,” Tarouco said, and the family then...
“I was never very good at sitting in class and listening to some person talk about what I should learn,” says Hans-Werner Braun. Instead, the engineer who was a driving force behind building the National Science Foundation Network (NSFNET), the precursor to the modern Internet, was a hands-on learner, tinkering with model trains and electronic kits as a child in Germany.
That need to do, to take an idea and apply it in a concrete fashion, has been fundamental to Braun’s contributions to the Internet. You can see it in the work he undertook through an informal collaboration between the six NSF supercomputer sites to bring the original interim 56 kilobits-per-second NSFNET backbone network to an operational state. The commitment to being hands-on is also apparent in the work that followed when that collaboration became formalized, to replace, in a matter of months, the backbone then running at 1.544 Mbps (T1). It’s evident in the years Braun spent analyzing network performance and traffic analysis as well as in his project through the High Performance Wireless Research and Education Network (HPWREN) to build the remote, unattended wireless network that today connects scientific instruments, Native American reservations, and federal, state, and local...
Radia Perlman is considered by many to be one of the most critical individuals in the development of certain network protocols and algorithms that still support how the Internet we know today functions.
In a recent in-depth profile on the life and career of Perlman (2014 Internet Hall of Fame inductee), Steven Johnson follows her career with steps along the way including her perseverance as the sole woman in her freshman undergraduate class at MIT to her development of the spanning tree protocol and her influence on younger professionals through her well-known 1992 textbook, Interconnections.
As the author notes, “We tend to focus on the glittery applications that we interact with directly—TikTok and Chrome and Spotify—but all those apps would be worthless without the quiet miracle of stable network architecture, seamlessly connecting servers and routers all around the world. That architecture was the product of many minds, each contributing small pieces to the puzzle that over time has given us the network stability that the entire world depends on. Radia Perlman contributed more than her fair share of those pieces over her long career—and probably did...
Vint Cerf, David Clark, and Henning Schulzrinne among those surveyed for study on the future of the metaverse.
The metaverse can be understood as a blended virtual and physical space of computer-generated, networked extended reality, augmented reality, as well as mixed and virtual reality (AR, MR and VR).
The term and its associated technologies have become more visible largely due to a corporate rebrand of the social media platform Facebook to Meta in 2021.
But, what makes up the metaverse? How does the Internet fuel its progress? And, how do people see its role in society evolving? With rising public interest in these questions, Pew Research Center, in collaboration with the Elon Imagining the Internet Center, conducted a wide-reaching survey of over 600 experts in the spring of 2022 asking participants about where extended reality tools that make the metaverse possible and the trends seen today may take us by 2040.
At age 13, Carlos Afonso, growing up near the banks of the Parana River in Brazil, discovered a knack for fixing radios. It was an inherited skill he attributes to his Italian grandfather, who he remembers could fix just about any machine.
It wasn't long before Carlos and some friends leveraged these skills to launch a clandestine radio station. "We broadcast music and talk programs and were able to reach neighboring cities." It was a brief endeavor, but one that started Afonso on a life-long path supporting a belief that everyone deserves equal access to the tools of communication.
In 1964 Afonso began attending the University of São Paulo. His parents were of modest means, but he notes, "my mother managed to gather enough resources so I could study naval engineering.” While there, he had his first encounter with computers – the early punch-card variety.
In Afonso’s first years at the university, the Brazilian military took power in Brazil and established a dictatorship hostile to new ideas and democracy itself. Unlike many of his peers, Afonso, whose studies were supported by the Navy, was allowed to continue attending. He remembers a Navy official telling him, “It is impossible that a good student like you has a passion for resisting the government!” That official, it seems, wasn’t aware of Afonso’s passion for democratic values and his commitment to the...