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July 29, 2013 | 0 comments

It was Aug. 3, 1984, when the very first email arrived in Germany.  “Willkommen to CSNET,” it began.  Direct, efficient … and historic.

The message simply listed for the staff at the University of Karlsruhe the information they’d need to fulfill their contract with the U.S.-based Computer Science Network (CSNET). It was an anticlimactic culmination of years of work by Werner Zorn, who headed the informatics computing center at U of K.

“Of course, you’re happy for a minute,” he said recently, recalling his reaction to that momentous email. “But then a minute later you’re asking yourself, ‘What’s next?’” For Zorn, the next task was as mundane as the email itself: Inform the dean and prepare a press release.

The road to the first email to Germany began in California. In 1981 the Stanford Research Institute had produced for the German Ministry for Research and Technology (BMFT) a status report on computer networking in the U.S. Having been invited to participate in the intended federal project “German Research Network” (DFN), Zorn read the report with great interest. Among all the different networks of that day, such as ARPAnet, Usenet, and more, one stood out for Zorn, as a professor of computer science: the brand-new Computer Science Network (CSNET). He believed that CSNET had the greatest possibilities, but no one in Germany – not even Zorn himself – could foresee...

July 16, 2013 | 0 comments

Whether you're a social-media junkie, a technological wizard or just wondering what effects the Internet is having on our lives, make room for a fascinating and enlightening book at the very top of your summer reading list: Untangling the Web: What the Internet is Doing to You, published by Guardian Faber [and out July 4.]

It's written by Internet Hall of Fame Advisory Board member Dr. Aleks Krotoski, a journalist, broadcaster and researcher who investigates the intersection between psychology and computer technology. She earned a PhD in Social Psychology from the University of Surrey, England, in 2009, and is a presenter of The Guardian's podcast "Tech Weekly," as well as of the BBC 4 radio show, "Digital Human."

Dr. Krotoski says that for about the past 13 years, she'd been growing more and more annoyed with people saying that the Web is going to destroy civilization – and equally annoyed at those who say it's going to save civilization. The facts she uncovered in writing the book bust both of these myths.

I set out to analyze the phenomena and profound changes that people attribute to the Web. I looked at aspects of our lives as varied as community, friendship and hatred, both 'Before the Web' and 'After the Web,'" she says. Her research delivers a major surprise for the pundits: The Internet has caused very little fundamental change in people at all.

"The technology isn't doing things to us; it's a technology that connects people to people...

June 26, 2013 | 0 comments

The Internet Society has announced the names of 32 individuals who have been selected for induction into the 2013 Internet Hall of Fame. Honored for their groundbreaking contributions to the global Internet, this year’s inductees comprise some of the world’s most influential engineers, activists, and entrepreneurs. Read the full press release here. 

“This year’s inductees represent a group of people as diverse and dynamic as the Internet itself,” noted Internet Society President and CEO Lynn St. Amour. “As some of the world’s leading thinkers, these individuals have pushed the boundaries of technological and social innovation to connect the world and make it a better place.”

Over the next 12 months, the Internet Hall of Fall editorial staff will chronicle the historic contributions of these individuals in a series of exclusive interviews and profiles that will be featured in this column.

Today’s inductees were supposed to be announced at an awards ceremony in...

June 19, 2013 | 0 comments

The Internet Society is changing the location of its 2013 Internet Hall of Fame awards ceremony, scheduled to take place on June 26 in Istanbul, Turkey. The decision comes as a result of the increasingly unstable situation in that region that has resulted from recent protests. Inductees will be announced on June 26, as planned, but the awards ceremony will take place at a later date, in a location yet to be determined.

Follow the Internet Hall of Fame’s RSS, Facebook or Twitter feeds (@Internet_HOF #ihof2013) to find out the names of this year’s honorees on the 26th, and to learn more about plans for the 2013 awards ceremony. 


June 17, 2013 | 0 comments

Naturally, Internet Hall of Famer and UCLA Distinguished Professor of Computer Science Leonard Kleinrock is proud of his invention of the theory behind packet-switching, which became the underpinning of the Internet. But he takes even more pride in what he calls his “army” of students, who are now doing cutting-edge research worldwide and teaching a new generation of students themselves. He remains in close contact with many of them; in fact, when we caught up to him in late May, he was preparing for a visit from a former student who lives and works in China. He says of teaching and mentoring: “It’s the most pleasurable part of my job. You see that you have inspired people to do the best work they can, and investigate areas you may not even have thought of, and you watch them take off and fly. I have enjoyed this aspect of my career so much that I never even look at it as a job.”

Still, among all his awards, it’s one for his learning, not his teaching, that has a special place of honor in his California home. A montage of prized possessions, including honorary doctorates, fills a frame, but the one front and center – the only one not overlapped by any other – is his Eagle Scout award. Why is that so important to the man who coordinated the transmission of the first message to pass over the Internet? Well, because...