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January 18, 2013 | 0 comments

Last month, a post by guest blogger and Internet Hall of Fame inductee Nancy Hafkin examined the growing knowledge divide between men and women in seven countries around the world.  This month, in the second of a three-part series, she takes a step back from the country-by-country data and tells us about the overall findings of her recent study, Gender in the Knowledge Society Framework, and what they say about women and the knowledge society. 

NUMBERS OF WOMEN IN SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY FALLING IN KEY ECONOMIES

by Guest Contributor Nancy Hafkin

The overall findings of the recent study I conducted with Sophia Huyer, Executive Director of Women in Global Science and Technology (WISAT), were striking for what they say about women and the knowledge society in general.  Women are not absent from the sciences; in health and life sciences they are highly...

January 7, 2013 | 0 comments

The Internet was built on TCP/IP, networking protocols originally created by American computer scientists Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn. But Cerf and Kahn were building on the work of Louis Pouzin.

In the early 1970s, working as a researcher for the French government, Pouzin created a computer network known as CYCLADES, and Vint Cerf himself has cited Pouzin’s design as one of the key influences behind the development of TCP/IP.

It isn’t hard to see why. With CYCLADES, Pouzin built a network where the delivery of information between machines was overseen by the machines themselves — not by some piece of central network hardware. In other words, he realized one the fundamental ideas that makes the Internet the Internet.

“We designed CYCLADES to be connected to other networks — in the future,” Pouzin remembers.

This past April, in recognition of his role in the creation of TCP/IP and his contribution to various other networking standards, Pouzin was inducted into the Internet Society’s (ISOC) Internet Hall of Fame. Part of the Hall’s inaugural class, he was enshrined alongside such as names as Sir Tim Berners-Lee,...

January 3, 2013 | 0 comments

The global ubiquity of cell phones has given us the false sense that information technology is universally accessible, but Internet Hall of Fame inductee Nancy Hafkin and research partner Sophia Huyer have found that nothing could be further from the truth. In the first of a three-part blog series, guest contributor Hafkin explores a growing gender knowledge divide.

GENDER AND INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY: FROM DIGITAL TO  KNOWLEDGE DIVIDE

by Guest Contributor Nancy Hafkin

When the term digital divide first appeared in the mid nineties, it was used to describe divides in access to information technology on ethnic, racial, and geographic lines in the U.S.[1]  From the US the concept of the digital divide spread to the divide between developed and developing countries.

The awareness of a global digital gender divide didn’t come until several years after the concept first emerged. Even after it was raised as an area of concern, it was very hard to find any reliable evidence of its existence, outside of the national statistics offices of highly developed countries.  The United Nations International Telecommunication Union, the global go-to source for information technology and telecommunications statistics, didn’t publish any sex-disaggregated statistics...

December 31, 2012 | 0 comments

Peter Kirstein is the man who put the Queen of England on the Internet in 1976.

That’s Her Majesty in the photo, and if the year isn’t immediately obvious from the computer terminal she’s typing on — or from her attire — you can find it on the wall, just to her left, printed on one of the signs trumpeting the arrival of the ARPAnet.

The date was March 26, 1976, and the ARPAnet — the computer network that eventually morphed into the internet — had just come to the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment, a telecommunications research center in Malvern, England. The Queen was on hand to christen the connection, and in the process, she became one of the first heads of state to send an e-mail.

It was Peter Kirstein who set up her mail account, choosing the username “HME2.” That’s Her Majesty, Elizabeth II. “All she had to do was press a couple of buttons,” he...

December 17, 2012 | 0 comments

In the late ’80s and early ’90s, Phil Zimmermann was a Colorado peacenik with a half-written program that he swore would one day let people exchange messages without Big Brother peering inside. The problem was, with a freelance job and two kids, Zimmermann could never quite find the time to finish the damn code — until Joe Biden came along.

Then-Senator Biden inserted a few words into an anti-terrorism bill that might make it easier for Big Brother — or, at least, Uncle Sam — to do exactly the kind of snooping Zimmermann wanted to stop. Zimmermann had a reason to finish the program. He worked day and night for months on the thing. All his half-formed plans to build a business around the software, he put aside. “When the Biden bill hit,” Zimmermann recalls, “we knew we had to change the facts on the ground.” He felt he had to get people communicating secretly, before Congress did something to make secret communications exceedingly difficult.

Finally, in June of the 1991, Zimmermann introduced a program called Pretty Good Privacy, which really did allow ordinary folks to make their e-mail all-but-unreadable to outsiders. Zimmermann made PGP available for free, and it spread like a bad weed, eventually enabling millions to communicate in private.

 For bringing cryptology to the masses, Zimmermann was inducted earlier this year into the Internet Society’s Internet Hall...