In the past you saw international and national standardization of very well-defined technologies. For example, if you were going to build nuts and bolts, what the threads look like, and you know, with the proper spacing and height and grip and so on. And so you know, this is not rocket science. It’s critically important to an engineer’s infrastructure to have standardization of these things, but it’s not as if we are trying to somehow codify the laws of physics.
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The interesting phenomenon related to the RSA algorithm and is not shared with some of the other algorithms is it is useful for both encryption and for digital signature. That is they are two distinct uses and this single algorithm is useful for both of those. And there’s an amazing and somewhat interesting story that then develops from that.
The people that invented Ethernet did a real good thing. Ethernet is good technology. But they did a really bad thing because they called it a net. And they shouldn’t have called it Ethernet, they should’ve called it “Etherlink.”
Blockchain is in that space where we still have to explain it, because most of the people have gone from not having it around to having it around. But for kind of the folks that are your age or a little younger it’s kind of always been there, at which point it doesn’t really need to be explained. It does however need to be contextualized.
I’ve been involved with the Internet Society for virtually its entire life. Years ago, I had the good fortune to be involved with the early days of the ARPANET and played a small role in helping build some of the technology, and in building some of the social structures that brought everybody together.
I think my proudest achievements were to be able to set up and launch the first program at the United Nations to promote information technology in a region. And the region was of course Africa.
I got involved with networking sometime in the late 70s, mainly because I was looking around and discovering that people were getting into networking, email. And at the time I was department chair at University of Wisconsin, the computer science department, and was trying to understand what those capabilities would do for our faculty and students.
I’m Elizabeth Feinler, usually known as “Jake.” That’s my nickname. And I ran the contract for the Network Information Center on both the ARPANET and the Defense Data Network back in the 70s and 80s.
The thing that always amazed me about [the Internet] is that it was just there. It wasn’t a giant announcement. It wasn’t a person. It wasn’t an organization. It was just there.