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September 10, 2013 | 0 comments

“Aaron is one of us.”

That’s how Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle feels about his fellow Internet Hall of Fame inductee, Aaron Swartz.

Note: Not, “was” one of us, but “is” one of us. Even though Aaron had been gone for half a year at the time Kahle spoke these words.

When Aaron Swartz died in January 2013 at the age of 26, his ideals and his achievements had already put him in the company of Internet luminaries twice his age. For these achievements, he was inducted posthumously into the Internet Hall of Fame on Aug. 3 in Berlin.

“His age didn’t matter,” Kahle said. “On the Internet, you’re judged by your contributions.” And these contributions were many. 

Though Swartz is perhaps best known for his role as a co-owner of Reddit (his wiki application, Infogami, provided the framework for Reddit’s early success), it’s the public advocacy and open-source initiatives Swartz undertook that were the most important, according to his father, Robert Swartz.

“It’s hard to...

September 9, 2013 | 0 comments

Internet Hall of Fame Advisory Board member Katie Hafner has been writing about technology since 1983. A frequent contributor to the New York Times, she has covered technology issues for national general-interest, technology and business magazines as well. She is the author of six books, including Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins of the Internet (with Matthew Lyon). Her most recent book, “Mother Daughter Me,” is winning high praise for its insightful, funny and brave look at a year she spent trying to live with her aging mother and her teenaged daughter. We caught up with her recently to talk books.

 Q. The adult book “I Capture the Castle” and the children’s book “Horton Hears a Who” are both mentioned glowingly in “Mother Daughter Me.” What are some of your other favorite books? 

A. I love Ann Patchett's “The Patron Saint of Liars.” What's most interesting is that it was her first novel, and I think it's her best – by a long shot. “Bel Canto” got a lot more attention, but “Liars” is a sublime piece of writing.

Q. What are you reading now? What titles are on your night-table?

A. Here are a few: “Dear Life,” by Alice Munro (love love love her); “Where I was From,” by Joan Didion; “NW,” by Zadie Smith; “Ramblers: Loyola Chicago 1963 – The Team that Changed the Color of College...

August 29, 2013 | 0 comments

Things you may not know about the Internet Hall of Fame: a total of 65 people, spanning 17 countries, have been inducted in the two years since its creation. Among the inductees: an Oscar winner and Nobel Peace Prize winner, two ACM A.M. Turing Award recipients, five recipients of the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering, and nine women – and that’s not everything.

Established by the Internet Society, the Internet Hall of Fame recognizes an impressive group of individuals who have fueled the development of the Internet and used it to transform the lives of people throughout the world. 2013 was no exception. This year’s ceremony, held in Germany in August, welcomed pioneers like Werner ZornIda HolzMark Andreessen and Jimmy Wales, among others, into the Internet Hall of Fame ranks.

To commemorate the many distinctions of this remarkable group of people, this Internet Hall of Fame: by the Numbers graphic displays their achievements – which, collectively, have paved the way for one of the most groundbreaking inventions of our time. Since its early...

August 2, 2013 | 0 comments

When you see Werner Zorn, a 2013 inductee into the Internet Hall of Fame, you're looking at a true computer science innovator: the man responsible for facilitating the first email into Germany, and then the first email from China to Germany, and who paved the way for Germany's Internet connection.

But you're also looking at a man who has a great appreciation for musical innovation, as well.

Zorn has been playing the piano since he was 5 years old, and continues to do so to this day. His passion for classical piano literature has even led him to travel internationally to hear live performances. He heard Vladimir Horowitz in 1982 in London, for instance, and Arthur Rubinstein several times in Strasbourg.

His favorite piano compositions are Chopin's 24 Etudes (Opus 10 and Opus 25). These studies are generally considered – to quote Wikipedia – "some of the most challenging and evocative pieces of all the works in the concert piano repertoire."

It has often been noted that music uses mathematical logic to achieve pleasing rhythms and harmonies. But that doesn't totally explain the composition of such works as the Etudes. Such creativity remains a tantalizing mystery.

"For me the greatest musical geniuses –Bach, Mozart, Chopin, Mendelssohn, Liszt, Beethoven, Schubert, Gershwin – all were inspired by incredible sources from somewhere above," Zorn wrote in a...

July 29, 2013 | 0 comments

It was Aug. 3, 1984, when the very first email arrived in Germany.  “Willkommen to CSNET,” it began.  Direct, efficient … and historic.

The message simply listed for the staff at the University of Karlsruhe the information they’d need to fulfill their contract with the U.S.-based Computer Science Network (CSNET). It was an anticlimactic culmination of years of work by Werner Zorn, who headed the informatics computing center at U of K.

“Of course, you’re happy for a minute,” he said recently, recalling his reaction to that momentous email. “But then a minute later you’re asking yourself, ‘What’s next?’” For Zorn, the next task was as mundane as the email itself: Inform the dean and prepare a press release.

The road to the first email to Germany began in California. In 1981 the Stanford Research Institute had produced for the German Ministry for Research and Technology (BMFT) a status report on computer networking in the U.S. Having been invited to participate in the intended federal project “German Research Network” (DFN), Zorn read the report with great interest. Among all the different networks of that day, such as ARPAnet, Usenet, and more, one stood out for Zorn, as a professor of computer science: the brand-new Computer Science Network (CSNET). He believed that CSNET had the greatest possibilities, but no one in Germany – not even Zorn himself – could foresee...