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.
By Michael Roberts
Years ago, building technology project teams was usually done informally. The designated leader did a survey of the organization, followed by recruiting, and it was off to the races. Today, management expectations of project success are much higher, and there are tailored approaches to building any size team for almost any project. Applications to support the project team exist in great profusion, and consultants are only a phone call away.
My own work with teams in several different contexts suggests that the human element is critical, and that it is not just technical and professional skills that matter. Many of the interpersonal relationships necessary to project team success have been explored and exploited in sports and the military, and there are lessons to be learned from that history.
Any significant project effort will face stresses related to scope, to deadlines, and to resource limits. There will be times when failure looms. Team members will have moments where they consider just walking away from the infernal hassle of it all.
It is well known that technical people tend to be introverted and to think of themselves as soloists in the choir. Once in a while, this approach works and carries the day in grand style. More frequently, projects...
Internet Hall of Famer Michael Roberts must be feeling a great deal of satisfaction these days.
In his induction speech, he said he has an appreciation for team-building. Well, looking back on his career – not that he’s inclined to look back, but he was asked to do so during a recent conversation – it’s clear that he’s built some pretty exceptional teams himself.
Roberts is best known as CEO and first President of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). His emphasis on collaboration shines through as he modestly recalls how he got that position: “I had worked hard in the effort to implement the mandate to privatise the Domain Name System, had previous startup experience, and was able to step in when [fellow Internet Hall of Famer] Jon Postel died suddenly." He insists that it has been teamwork on the part of engineers and representatives of industry, governments, and nonprofits that deserves the credit for ICANN’s success in developing policies that coordinate the Internet’s Domain Name System. Nevertheless, his term there was so successful that what was supposed to be a six-month effort turned into three years.
The collaboration Roberts is most proud of is the one that won passage of the High-Performance Computing Act of 1991. The legislation, originally introduced by Senator Al Gore...