In 1994, a modest but determined and brilliant engineer named Madam Qiheng Hu led a delegation to the U.S. for discussions with the National Science Foundation, which led to a consensus on setting up the first direct TCP/IP connection in mainland China. In 1997, she went on to found the China Internet Network Information Center and has chaired its steering committee ever since. This committee manages the operation and development of Internet resources in the world’s most populous nation. In addition, she is president of the Internet Society in China, which she helped found in 2001. For these among other achievements, she was inducted in 2013 into the Internet Hall of Fame. Following are excerpts from an interview with her conducted by Internet Hall of Fame Advisory Board Member Andreu Veà, in conjunction with the new book he has just published, entitled “How We Create the Internet.”
AV: What was your first experience with the Internet or ARPANET?
Some people do what they love; others love what they do. George Sadowsky, a 2013 inductee in the Internet Hall of Fame, has spent 40 years doing both.
The love affair began in 1973 when, as a consultant to the UN, he started working in developing nations. Sadowsky seemed to have a passion for helping such countries, and that passion only grew with his experience. He visited 35 nations and ran projects in 20-30 others before the Internet was established, and he has continued his Internet-related work in multiple developing countries since then.
He served as the network engineer for the very first population census ever done in China, and ensured that the Chinese government used the appropriate software to properly analyze the results of that census. Of the several visits he made to China between 1982 and 1986, he recently said, “The question now was, how do you put that data together to help the government design policies that will really help people? How do you get people to understand what uses can be made of all that information?”
India was another developing country where he helped people use information technology – in this case, to make better decisions about water conservation and usage. But it was the African continent that perhaps held the greatest interest for...
To some it may seem like it could take a little magic to transform Africa into a global Internet leader in the next 10 years. Such doubters should be reminded that 2013 Internet Hall of Fame inductee Dr. Nii Quaynor, who is committed to making that transformation a reality, is indeed a magician.
Well, not precisely: He’s a computer science professor and the “Father of the Internet” in Africa. But Quaynor has been known to pull a few brightly colored handkerchiefs out of his “empty” sleeves at meetings of both the African Internet Numbers Information Center, one of the five Regional Internet Registries worldwide, and the African Network Operators Group, two of the organizations he founded. He’ll also do some card tricks for his students at Ghana’s University of Cape Coast, he says, “when they look like they’re falling asleep.”
Quaynor believes that improved education can and will lead African nations to a greater understanding of the benefits of networking, and eventually to become role models for other developing regions.
And who would dare doubt an Internet Hall of Famer who’s also a magician?
Watch ‘Nii the Magnificent’ doing a trick for the Internet Hall of Fame....
Nii Quaynor believes education is the key to spurring a new generation of Internet entrepreneurs. And in Africa right now, the top priority for this educator is producing such businesspeople.
“It’s great to know how to get connected to the Internet, but then you have to know what to do with it,” says Quaynor, a computer science professor at the University of Cape Coast in Ghana. “In Africa, we need Internet entrepreneurs, not just Internet users.”
There is a 1.2 billion-person market that exists on the continent. “We should be reaching them with products and services that are produced here,” Quaynor says. And he speaks from experience -- he founded and ran Network Computer Services (NCS), the first Internet Service Provider in west Africa. It was doing business of $2.3 million a year and had several thousand clients when, in 2003, a shocking event occurred: The company was shut down in a dispute over the land on which it was physically located. All the company’s assets were seized and it had to relocate. But during that fearful time, his clients never lost their Internet connection. The .gh service never went down; Quaynor and his team were able to migrate services to other sites. Today, NCS is survived by a successor company, Ghana Dot Com Ltd., which is an ICANN-accredited...
Today, as professor of computer science at the Asian Institute of Technology and director of its Internet Education and Research Lab, Internet Hall of Fame inductee Dr. Kanchana Kanchansut is concentrating on advancing mobile technology.
“Instead of connecting one computer to another, I’m interested in moving nodes, operated wirelessly,” she says. One major motivation for that interest is the violent weather events to which southeast Asia is prone.
“I went to the area where the massive tsunami struck in 2004 to see how people were using laptops to help victims. It was obvious that it would have been much better if people could use their laptops to form an ad hoc wireless network for their communication. And when the 2008 cyclone hit in Burma, the Burmese ruling junta didn’t allow foreigners to help, so we decided to bring Burmese engineers here. We taught them the technology and gave them small laptops. They went back and used those devices to get people the food, shelter, and communications they needed.”
In Thailand’s cities, people commonly use Facebook or LINE, the fast-growing social network developed in Japan in 2011. But in the rural areas, there is less connectivity, and that is where Kanchana is focusing her efforts.
“In recent years, whenever people have...