Thirty years ago, a visionary effort by Dr. Glenn Ricart to interconnect the computer networks of all the departments at the University of Maryland, College Park, wasn’t very well received.
It was the first time computer networks on a college campus had been “interconnected,” and while this may have sounded valuable in theory, the real-world application didn’t show as much benefit in practice as Dr. Ricart – the university’s academic chief information officer at the time – had hoped.
“It turns out that the philosophers didn’t really want to talk to the chemical engineers or the business school professors. And the business school professors didn’t want to talk to the philosophers or to the engineers. They wanted to talk to the business professors at other schools,” Dr. Ricart recalled.
This was an “ah-ha” moment for Dr. Ricart – one that set the stage for a series of events that would lead first to the slightly surreptitious networking of colleges and academic organizations across the U.S. (more on that later), and then to the addition of commercial institutions to that network.
Dr. Ricart will tell you these events were accidental or lucky. “Half of it is being in the right place at the right time,” he asserted. But this is only partly true. At every turn – at every obstacle or perceived misstep – Dr. Ricart seized the opportunity to adapt and adjust his vision.
“The focus of my work during the 1980s was interconnecting people and the...
2013 Internet Hall of Fame inductee Dr. Glenn Ricart continues his pioneering work to enable greater Internet access and development through the non-profit, US Ignite. Formed by Dr. Ricart in 2010 and announced at the White House on June 14, 2012, the organization brings together corporations, universities and federal agencies to develop applications and services designed for the next generation of the Internet.
These applications are meant to have a profound impact on the way Americans work, live, and learn. “We’re developing applications that take advantage of an Internet that is fast enough to be in sync with the real world,” Dr. Ricart said.
The technology is focused in six areas: healthcare, clean energy, transportation, education and workforce development, public safety, and advanced manufacturing. Applications are designed to be open and sharable, spurring business growth, the development of software-defined networks and ultra high-speed broadband.
The concept for US Ignite began when Thomas Kalil of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy asked Dr. Ricart a relatively simple question: “What’s going to happen next with the Internet?”
“When Tom asked, I really didn’t know. So I talked to academics and corporations and others and eventually developed a point of view on what the next generation of the Internet might look like,” said Dr. Ricart. “Then we began to talk...
In our modern, fast-paced world of e-commerce, smartphones and social media, it’s hard to imagine – or remember – life without the Internet.
In reality, it took half a century of hard work and innovation to bring the Internet about, with contributions from a global network of individuals, institutions and organizations—each with a story to tell.
There are numerous sources designed to chronicle the resulting history of the Internet—each offering a somewhat unique perspective—and we’ve compiled a few our favorites here.
The Computer History Museum is an information-packed source for Internet history and the history of just about everything related to computers.
The website regularly shares articles, exhibits and educational videos, including seminars and spirited panel discussions hosted by the museum. Visually-pleasing and easy to navigate, the site scores big points for free lesson...
Vint Cerf has been raising the alarm on a coming ‘digital dark ages’ for a while, and he now tells Wired in a recent interview that he and some of his fellow Internet pioneers are “joining with a new generation of hackers, archivists, and activists to radically reinvent core technologies that underpin the web.”
Establishing a “Permanent Web,” as it’s being called, was a key topic of discussion for the new group of collaborators at the recent Decentralized Web Summit, where the group envisioned a world with a web that will one day both archive and back itself up automatically.
Writes Wired:“Unlike the early web, the web of today isn’t just a collection of static HTML files. It’s a rich network of interconnected applications like Facebook and Twitter and Slack that are constantly changing. A truly decentralized web will need ways not just to back up pages but applications and data as well.
The goal: to make the web “resilient to the sands of time.”
The editor-in-chief of Vice Impact, Katherine Keating, recently sat down with Internet Hall of Fame inductee Jimmy Wales to talk about the role of civil society in "holding governments accountable for their actions and promoting individual liberties." In a compelling Q&A, Keating asks Wales if there are times that censorship can be justified, why he initiated a Wikipedia blackout in the face of the SOPA Bill, and if the relationship between giant Internet providers and consumers can be transparent and neutral.
Read the full Q&A here.