When Larry Irving was asked to join the Clinton Administration’s Internet policy team, he’d never been on the network – or even used email.
But as a minority born in New York City’s housing projects whose first job on Capitol Hill was with the late Rep. Mickey Leland, a tireless champion for the underprivileged, it didn’t take him long to see both the benefits and the dangers the Internet posed to society – particularly as it related to the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots.’
Internet pioneers had also identified the potential access problems, which early technologists had dubbed the ‘Digital Divide.’ But it was Irving’s laser focus on both measuring and closing that gap that have made his name almost synonymous with the term.
It’s a mission he has remained committed to over the past two decades, and one that earned him a spot as the first African American in the Internet Hall of Fame.
“Larry was among the first to note that ‘the divide between those with access to new technologies and those without is now one of America's leading economic and civil rights issues,” Chris Lewis, president...
With COVID-19 forcing millions of families to turn to distance learning, an Internet Hall of Fame inductee’s long-time concerns about the digital divide are being thrust into the spotlight.
A 2019 inductee into the Internet Hall of Fame, Larry Irving served for seven years as administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, becoming one of the main architects of telecommunications policy in the Clinton White House.
Along with pushing developments to improve Internet access, his administration kept records of user demographics to document the early days of the digital divide – a phrase he coined in the 1990s.
Despite Irving voicing his concerns almost 30 years ago, that persistent digital divide has left families and students unprepared to deal with distance learning during a global pandemic.
In a recent survey of 5,000 teachers across the country, 55 percent said less than half of their students were attending online classes necessitated by COVID-19, with many unable to do so thanks to limited or non-existent Internet access at home.
Although the Lifeline program was expanded during the Obama administration to include smart phones, recent proposals to expand its provider network or provide additional funding to cover broadband discounts to libraries and public schools have gotten a chilly reception. That in turn leaves families...
There are a lot more people, platforms, and devices connected to the web than Jianping Wu could have imagined 25 years ago.
For more than 25 years, Wu, a 2017 inductee into the Internet Hall of Fame, has led the design, development and evolution of CERNET, the first Internet backbone in China and the largest national academic network. CERNET National Center is located at Tsinghua University, where Wu is a professor and chairman of the Department of Computer Science.
In an exclusive video interview with the Internet Hall of Fame, Wu shared his hopes and fears for the future of the Internet, acknowledging the constantly growing demand for high speed networks. His hope is that affordable infrastructure can be built to accommodate that need.
“People are always hoping for faster and faster Internet,” he said. “This is a big challenge. We need high speed routers somewhere where people can use high speed devices.”
Ermanno Pietrosemoli is glad to see future generations putting his work to good use.
A 2017 inductee into the Internet Hall of Fame, Pietrosemoli is one of the founders of the Escuela Latinoamericana de Redes, an organization that promotes information technology across South America.
During his 30-year tenure with the telecommunications laboratory at Venezuela’s Universidad de los Andes, he played a key role in building a direct connection between his institution and the Internet’s early backbone in Homestead, Florida.
In a recent video interview, Pietrosemoli marveled at the progress across multiple disciplines made by subsequent generations thanks to the Internet’s continued growth.
“You are empowered much more than we were,” he said. “Because you have the tools we didn’t have.”
Paul Vixie wants you to know your computer a little better.
A 2014 inductee into the Internet Hall of Fame, Vixie is the founder and CEO of the California-based Farsight Security, which uses real-time contextual information about domain usage and the registration of domain names to detect threats and prevent potential cybercrimes.
In a 2018 interview with the Cyber Security Dispatch, Vixie urged companies and individual users to get a better grasp on the specifics of the assorted software programs they are using in order to minimize their exposure.
“If you don't, then the bad guys, who understand your technology a lot better than you do, because that's how their incentives are aligned, are going to take you for a ride,” he said. “I think security and complexity don't go hand in hand. If you want both, you have to work really hard.”