Internet Hall of Famer Paul Vixie has a startling take on the people who created the Internet: They were “just a bunch of young rebels who didn’t like the phone company monopoly. They thought they could come up with a better way to communicate – and have fun doing it. For most of us, the Internet we know today was not even a gleam in our eyes. It was just a rebellion, really.”
It’s clear that Vixie is speaking with great affection for the “rebels” who are his peers and predecessors. Dissatisfaction with the way things are “is what makes progress happen,” he says.
Much of his own career has been devoted to taking down those who would interfere with the Internet’s progress. His passion for that is reflected in the way he speaks, like a sheriff in the Wild West, of the “Good Guys” and the “Bad Guys.”
He has always had a fine contempt for the Bad Guys who abuse the Internet. In 1998, Vixie created the first anti-spam company, MAPS (Mail Abuse Prevention System), with the goal of stopping email abuse. And in 2013, he founded (and is CEO of) Farsight Security, which is dedicated to securing the world's digital infrastructure by ensuring that “everyone who’s trying to make the Internet safer has the tools they need to do that.”
Vixie believes that a...
Check out this brief, fun video that wraps up about 40 years of Internet history in just a few minutes -- and does so in an unhurried, understandable way. It manages to explain the difference between the Internet and the World Wide Web, which still confuses a lot of people, and walks viewers through milestones like the invention of packet-switching and the advent of browsers.
In 1991 Dai Davies introduced Internet technology into the pan-European backbone, EuropaNet, which was originally planned as an X.25 network. This put him right in the middle of the “Protocol Wars,” when engineers, organizations and nations became polarized over the issue of which protocol – Open Systems Interconnections (OSI) or TCP/IP -- would result in the best and most robust networks. As we all know now, TCP/IP won the war, but the battles were brutal. Davies recalls being in Japan speaking at a seminar in which he was describing his own hybrid solution, which used a combination of the two protocols. “A guy in the back of the room was making obscene gestures at me the whole time, because I was not advocating for a ‘pure’solution using just one of the two,” he said. “The idea that you could have co-existing protocols was heresy. You had to choose sides, and it was trench warfare.” Davies survived that war and has gone on to lead many successful battles to bring networking to regions worldwide, from the Far East to Central Asia, Africa and Latin America.
Dai Davies brought Internet connectivity to the academic and research communities of Europe and then to other regions of the world, and continues doing so today. In fact, throughout his entire career he has been expanding networks worldwide, connecting people and encouraging what he calls the Internet’s “freewheeling spirit.” So how can that spirit of creativity and open development be preserved?
In a recent chat via phone, he pointed out that three main groups have roles to play in that effort.
The first is engineers. “They are extremely creative, but they have to understand that the things they make are used by non-engineers. Early Internet engineers thought they were connecting engineers to one another, but what the Internet actually did was create connections between people,” he said. “Back in the 70s, when interconnectivity began, the Net was designed by and for us – the engineers. But engineers make a huge mistake in assuming that the average user of their product is an engineer.” What the Internet actually achieved, Davies notes, is vastly different from what it was originally meant to do: “It achieved a global connectivity that no one foresaw.” People began using it for sharing photos, finding directions, playing games, watching movies. He suggested that Internet...
We found some pretty cool stories – and photos – concerning Internet Hall of Famers who were in the news in November. In addition to providing insightful food for thought in interviews, they themselves turned up as subjects for the media far and wide. Here are a few examples.