A 2019 inductee into the Internet Hall of Fame fully expects web giants to be part of the campaign trail in the next election cycle.
Larry Irving was Assistant Secretary of Commerce during President Clinton’s administration and is one of the architects of the United States’ early domestic and foreign Internet policies. He is also the author of the first empirical study that proved the existence of the digital divide.
In a recent interview on the Fox Business Channel, Irving pointed out how the Internet’s rapid growth has led to the massive expansion of web-based companies like Amazon and Facebook that have a presence across multiple platforms. That wide reach has drawn lawmakers’ attention and as he noted, will be a campaign trail topic in 2020.
“This is not going to go away, no matter who is president and no matter what congress looks like,” Irving said. “On both sides of the aisle, both sides of the Hill, folks are looking at doing something about big tech.”
Wikipedia, meet Facebook.
In an effort to combat the spread of fake news via social media, Wikipedia founder and Internet Hall of Fame inductee Jimmy Wales has quietly launched WT:Social, a social networking site that allows users to share links to articles on a wide range of topics and discuss them in a Facebook-style news feed. Similar to Wikipedia, it relies on donations from users in order to operate ad-free.
In an interview with the Financial Times, Wales acknowledged that there is no guarantee the platform will succeed. Wales attempted something similar in 2017 with the crowd-funded launch of Wikitribune, which ultimately failed to attract a sustainable audience.
“This is a radical, crazy experiment of mine,” he said. “I’m happy to say I don’t know all the answers."
Envy helped drive Internet Hall of Fame inductee Ira Fuchs into action.
A 2017 inductee into the Internet Hall of Fame, Fuchs is a co-founder of BITNET, a cooperative network between the City University of New York and Yale University that provided email, file transfer, and instant messaging to faculty, researchers and students throughout the world in the early 1980s.
“The fact is that I was envious of ARPANET users,” he said. “It was only available to a small number of schools and universities within the United States…and I thought this was great, but when is it going to be available and affordable to a larger group?”
The Internet Hall of Fame’s induction ceremony went to a new locale in 2019.
Previously hosted in Geneva, Berlin, Hong Kong and Los Angeles, this year is the first time that the awards were held in Latin America. Costa Rica was selected to organize the event in part because of the strong example it has set in using a collaborative approach to Internet governance and the systematic steps it's taken to help close the country’s digital divide.
In a recent interview with the Costa Rica News, Internet Society CEO and President Andrew Sullivan lauded the 11 inductees’ ingenuity in addressing the problems that their own communities have faced in establishing and increasing network access.
“Internet design has always allowed people to see a problem and get to work to solve it,” he said. “This year’s new members have given us great gifts of their creative approaches to the problems they saw on the Internet. We can be inspired by them to face the next round of challenges.”
Measuring the Internet is not exactly an easy task for Kimberly "kc" Claffy, a 2019 Internet Hall of Fame inductee.
The founder and director of the Center for Applied Internet Data Analysis and a resident research scientist at the University of California - San Diego’s Supercomputer Center, Claffy has had a hand in facilitating Internet widespread access across multiple disciplines.
In a recent video interview, Claffy acknowledged that cybersecurity has become a bigger issue than ever contemplated, in part because the web has grown faster than anticipated.
“We’re using an architecture that was deployed for a government experiment and it escaped from the lab,” she said.
Due to the rapid growth, it has moved beyond the intended scope of an 'end-to-end Internet.' The future will continue to involve multiple sources of data that will need to be tied together in order to find the truth behind questions asked, according to Claffy. Accomplishing this lies in accurate measurement.