Although COVID-19 has brought most of the world to a screeching halt, it has not stopped the Internet or one of its biggest cheerleaders.
Part of the Internet Hall of Fame’s inaugural class, Vint Cerf is the co-designer of the TCP/IP protocols. Since 2005, he has been a vice president and “Chief Internet Evangelist” for Google, promoting the web’s capabilities.
Although the web’s basic protocols have not changed in 50 years, it is largely still able to handle the surge in traffic brought on by the novel coronavirus, something Cerf took great pride in during a recent interview with the Washington Post via Google Hangout after recovering from COVID-19.
“This basic architecture is 50 years old, and everyone is online,” he said. “And the thing is not collapsing.”
Jean Armour Polly, retired from working as a public librarian and Internet evangelist, continues to provide folks with information in a very personal way. She volunteers at a local Rescue Mission Thrifty Shopper, organizing bric-a-brac. But in addition to that “organizing” role, she has used her tech expertise, tenacity and sleuthing skills to reunite old photos and documents with their families of origin.
“I have shipped precious historical items to families in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Tennessee,” she said. “It is my honor to return these things to families.”
It’s surprising what gets brought to the Thrifty Shopper. Items that come in have included things like photo albums, marriage and death certificates, and even cemetery deeds.
“If there’s any kind of identifying information, I go to my ancestry.com account and build out a little family tree to find descendants who are actively involved in researching that line. Quite a project, but the resulting families are so grateful!”
In the process, Polly has become an avid, albeit amateur, genealogist. “I have access to many online resources and archives,” she says. “Because of my own DNA test results, I have connected with other DNA ‘hits’ to me, to work out how we’re related. More than a handful of times the hits were adoptees or children of adoptees who were...
In 1981, personal computers had been invented, but in public libraries, they were nowhere to be seen.
Then Jean Armour Polly stepped in.
As a librarian in the upstate New York village of Liverpool, she was frustrated with the way most libraries operated. “They were so slow to take risks!” she says.
Polly has told the news media on many occasions, “The enemy is complacency.” Polly was anything but complacent. The first class she had taken, back in 1974 in Syracuse University’s graduate Library School, was on ‘how to type a catalogue card, how many spaces to leave between items.’ “It was so boring!” she says. So, she signed up for some free, noncredit computing classes that were being offered in the Engineering Center.
“I learned BASIC and FORTRAN,” she says, “and other things that I knew were somehow going to be important for me, because I didn’t want to be stuck typing those damn cards!”
A year later, master’s degree in hand, Polly began working as a librarian in Liverpool. At conferences, she quickly saw that access to information via computers would be the wave of the future. When she learned that students, even grade-school kids, were getting Apple computers, she persuaded Liverpool Public to buy an Apple II Plus for public use.
It didn’t take long before people started coming in to play games like Oregon Trail or use the spreadsheet Visi-calc on the...
With apologies to Annie Lennox and Aretha Franklin, when it comes to web access, sisters are doing it for themselves.
In honor of the 50th anniversary of the first message sent via ARPANET, a forerunner to the modern Internet, a recent edition of Popular Mechanics highlighted 11 notable women in computer science.
Among the 11 spotlighted by the magazine are six Internet Hall of Fame inductees: Yvonne-Marie Andres, Elise Gerich, Elizabeth Feinler, Ida Holz, Anne-Marie Eklund Lowinder and Jean Armour Polly.
As the publication notes, these women "deserve recognition for their groundbreaking contributions," as they have "helped shape the way we connect with the world around us."
As the Internet becomes more globally accessible, Yvonne Marie Andres would like to see it used more for preventing problems than creating new ones.
A 2017 inductee into the Internet Hall of Fame, Andres was one of the first to develop and utilize online learning programs for students and educators.
In an interview from her induction, Andres said she hopes that the Internet will be better incorporated to create hands-on,...