Tracy LaQuey Parker had no idea what she wanted to do when she started college at the University of Texas (UT) in the 1980s.
What she did know was that “computers were going to run the world, so I figured I better get involved with that,” she said.
As it turned out, besides being good at computer science, LaQuey Parker was also good at communicating the complexities of computers to the nonscientific masses.
After graduating, she took a job with a tech company but hated being stuck in a cubicle. So, she ended up back at UT, working at the computational center, which was building networks and communications systems.
“They soon found out I could communicate with people,” she said. “They sent me around to talk to professional organizations, to get them to use the network. My manager did not want to deal with national organizations.”
As a result, at only 23 years old, LaQuey Parker found herself representing UT at meetings of the Internet Society, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and similar organizations. But she wasn’t shy or intimidated. Rather, she said, she felt “super lucky” to be around so many intelligent people who understood the potential of the Internet.
In her excitement, she once even offered for UT Austin to host the next IETF meeting without clearing it with anyone.
“I think I got in trouble for that,” she said. “But we ended up doing it anyway.”
She then went on, through a series of positions at...
When Tracy LaQuey Parker left her full-time job with Cisco in 2001, she directed her passion towards a few different areas. In addition to raising her two loving sons, she continued to work with the University of Texas. There, she founded the UTeach Institute in order to replicate the UTeach science and math teacher preparation program at universities around the country.
But she has also found a new passion: The Texas Tribune, a non-profit, community-based, members-only digital media news organization in Austin that is one of a growing number of non-profit digital news operations that have sprung up around the country as newspapers have been dying.
“When I first heard about it, and the concept behind it, I had the same feeling about it as I did about the Internet,” she said. “So, I went online and made a really large donation, for me. It was completely unsolicited. I put it all on my credit card.
“I don’t know what was driving me, but I was like, this is going to disrupt journalism, and I don’t know how… but they were all...
Although he has long been working with machines and code, the human aspect of the technical world is what keeps pushing Nabil Bukhalid to give back.
A 2017 inductee into the Internet Hall of Fame, Bukhalid led the team at the American University of Beirut that initially brought the Internet to Lebanon. He is also the founder of the Lebanese Academic and Research Network, co-founder of the Lebanese Broadband Manifesto Support Group, and BeirutIX - the first Internet Exchange Point in Lebanon.
In a recent interview, Bukhalid said he was truly taken aback by the collegiality he experienced when he first met with other online pioneers in the early 1990s, and this inspired him to help improve access in his home country.
“When I went in 1993 to Stanford, I was looking for a technical solution [to our connectivity problem]. What I came back with was a people solution,” he said. “I came back with an address book of friends and colleagues who were ready to assist free of charge. That was not very common, especially if coming from an industrial environment. It was the openness and friendship of the core community that surprised me. It gave me the drive to do the same, to offer the services to whoever needs the support and it’s been very fulfilling.”
Ed Krol does not want to see politics get in the way of future generations of Internet innovators.
The author of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Internet,” one of the earliest non-technical Internet guidebooks, and “The Whole Internet” book series, Krol helped develop the web’s early infrastructure through the development of regional networks.
Krol, a 2017 inductee into the Internet Hall of Fame, said in a recent interview that he worries about the impact that Federal Communications Commission actions regarding net neutrality will have on web developers’ ability to continue pushing the bounds of modern technology.
“One of my big fears is the politicization of the Internet,” he said. “I started out my career worrying about big business getting in the way, and now with net neutrality stuff, it’s the same thing all over: that we need to protect the ability of innovators to build an application and use the Internet in a way they see fit.”
According to one online pioneer, 20 years of international collaboration over Internet access has had an indelible impact on Africa – both on and offline.
A former at-large director for ICANN, 2013 Internet Hall of Fame inductee Nii Quaynor is sometimes known as the “father of the Internet in Africa” for his efforts to improve access across the continent during the late 1990s.
In a recent blog post for Circle ID, Quaynor noted that ICANN’s steady growth and development over the last two decades has made it possible for developing countries, particularly those in Africa, to expand telecommunications infrastructure by coordinating resources. The discussions to facilitate that coordination led to greater dialogue on other topics as well.
“The novel community approach to decision-making through a multi-stakeholder bottom-up process was stimulating for those looking for more inclusion in governance,” he wrote.“This created many opportunities for dialog or the ability to lobby for a better local policy environment for the Internet. In short, there was alignment between forming an inclusive Internet governance structure and...