Oral history of the internet (OHI)

19 Mar 2018 13:15h - 14:00h

Event report

[Read more session reports from the WSIS Forum 2018]

Prof. Fang Xingdong, CEO of Cyberlab in China, introduced his long time non-commercial project called the ‘Oral History of the Internet’ which aims to depict the first 50 years, since 1969.  The project started in 2007 and its team is looking forward to interviewing 500 Internet pioneers who stood behind its development. It is important to note that OHI is intended to reflect Internet stories from multiple countries. By the year 2019 the team is expecting to have done 400 interviews with people from technical and business society from Europe and Asia. Ultimately, the project will result in a 4-hour video, published on the Internet for free.

Mr Louis Pouzin, presented as the ‘father of the Internet in France’, noted that the Internet in terms of transferring packages of information started in 1968. The first network of that kind was a Spanish network for bank transactions. Then there was the famous ARPANET, a university network that produced many publications. Simultaneously other networks began to function, such as SITA for airline reservations, and a commercial network Timenet. Next, in 1998 came the World Wide Web, invented by scientists from the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). At the end of his presentation, Pouzin stressed the language issue – many languages use a completely different alphabet from the Latin alphabet, and this made it difficult to use the Internet in the beginning.

Dr Yahya M Alrews, a representative of the Yemen government, gave a perspective on Internet development in the Arab world. He gave some figures: the Internet came to Tunis in 1991, Kuwait in 1992, Syria and Qatar in 1994, and finally to Yemen in 1996. Also, while 2.6 million Internet users come from the Arab countries, the relative network penetration rate is only 57%. However, in some states such as Qatar or UAE it reaches the level of more than 90%. But as for the Yemen, the country still has a long way to go in development and innovation, because it still uses 2G and 3G technologies for communication, lagging behind its neighbours. 

Prof. Xiong Chengyu, from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, shared his personal memories of Internet emergence in China back in 1994. He also stressed the importance of the OHI project.

Ms Chantal Lebrument, director of open-root, introduced a new Internet protocol RINA (Recursive InternetWork Architecture). This solution is being developed in collaboration with Boston University and several European organisations and funding. She predicted that in 2-5 years RINA will be used by a wide circle of users.


By Ilona Stadnik