The evolution of the Internet and its uses has caught one of its pioneers by surprise.
A 2017 inductee into the Internet Hall of Fame, Tadao Takahashi, is the founder and former director of Brazil’s National Research Network, one of the country’s earliest academic networks. His efforts to facilitate coordination among academic networks led to the development of what would become the foundation of Brazil’s Internet.
Citing its widespread use by government and non-government organizations for both benevolent and dark uses, Takashai said in a recent video interview that the Internet’s development has gone far beyond the passing fad he and his collaborators expected it to be.
“The Internet today is not the kind of benign phenomenon we thought it would be 25 or 30 years ago, especially when you have those revelations from Edward Snowden….regarding the way the NSA was running a full-scale espionage operation,” he said. “The fact is, the Internet lost its innocence. You have to look at it as an incredible tool for both good and bad.”
On the Alexa list of the world’s most visited websites, the top spots are largely taken up by corporate sites, such as Google, Baidu and Amazon.
And then there’s Wikipedia.
Launched in 2001 by Internet Hall of Fame Inductee Jimmy Wales, the crowd-sourced encyclopedia is the fifth most visited website in the world.
In a recent column published by The Guardian, John Naughton writes that the site and its reliance on volunteers to edit and fact-check is an embodiment of the Internet’s potential to harness society’s collective intelligence.
“Reading Wikipedia discussion pages provides a way of understanding how a particular proposition or assertion came to be made and how it evolved...
Now retired, Internet Hall of Fame inductee Ira Fuchs, a co-founder of BITNET, still has a passion for communications, but of the lower-tech, four-legged variety: he recently adopted a black lab that he and his wife are training to be a seeing-eye dog.
He said his family never had a dog when his kids were growing up; he got the idea after bumping into someone on the Princeton campus who was raising one of the puppies.
“It turns out my wife knew his wife. We started talking, and I said, wow this is really great. So I got the name and number and started the process,” he said.
Fuchs said he and his wife started going to the necessary meetings and learning the training, all while keeping it a secret from his three adult kids for a year-and-a-half.
“It wasn’t easy because all three are dog crazy,” he said. “They kept saying to us, ‘Why don’t you and mom get a dog.’ I kept saying, ‘Why don’t you get a dog.’”
The dog finally came home at 1 p.m. on a Tuesday, he said, and he immediately sent his three adult kids an email about an important family meeting that night on Zoom.
“I did not say why. I just said it’s not a health issue,” he said. “Then they came to the meeting. I said there is something that has been going on for a year-and-a-half. You could see the look on their faces, wondering what I was going to tell them. Then I did something really...
A survey of more than 1,100 technology experts and scholars shows that the Internet’s impact on daily lives, while far-reaching, is somewhat of a mixed bag.
The non-scientific study, conducted by the Pew Research Center and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center, asked experts to share at least one personal anecdote about how technology has changed their lives – for better or worse.
As part of the ninth “Future of the Internet” study, the project’s authors solicited responses from more than 10,000 people, including individuals who are actively involved with global Internet governance and access research entities, such as the Internet Engineering Task Force, the International Telecommunications Union, the Association of Internet Researchers and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. About half of the respondents chose to remain anonymous.
The results primarily spread across eight themes, four positive and four negative, including trolling and other personality identification issues and the ability to invent, reinvent and innovate through easier access to...
Ira Fuchs’ passion for network communications began as a ham radio operator. As a teenager, he talked with people around the world from his bedroom in Queens, NY.
“I remember the thrill of talking to other ham radio operators. My idea in connecting the scholars of the world was a natural extension of my interest in ham radio,” he said.
And connect scholars he did… Fuchs co-founded BITNET in 1981 by establishing a connection between City University of New York (CUNY) and Yale University. BITNET was an important precursor to the commercialized Internet we use today, offering many of the Internet’s cores services such as email, file transfer and instant messaging, as well as helping to establish expectations about openness and free access. The network grew to connect 1,400 universities in 49 countries around the world.
Fuchs became interested in computers in the 1960s while studying physics at Columbia University. It was a time when mainframes were becoming important for academics and research.
“I became involved as an undergraduate. I worked at the computing center and in my senior year I worked as a systems programmer,” he explained.
While working on his master’s degree in computer science, he was introduced to early email and more advanced networking systems. At 24, he was...