Nii Quaynor Receives 2007 Postel Service Award
The Internet Society (ISOC) has awarded pioneering Internet engineer Nii Quaynor the prestigious Jonathan B. Postel Service Award for 2007 for his leadership in advancing Internet technology in Africa and galvanizing technologists to improve Internet access and capabilities throughout the continent. ISOC presented the award, including a $20,000 [USD] honorarium, during the 70th meeting of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) in Vancouver, BC, Canada.
"Dr. Quaynor has selflessly pioneered Internet development and expansion throughout Africa for nearly two decades, enabling profound advances in information access, education, healthcare and commerce for African countries and their citizens," said ISOC president Lynn St. Amour. "Today, Dr. Quaynor continues to champion not just technological advances but also African involvement in Internet standards, processes and deployments, discussion on Internet policies and regulations, and ensuring African interests are well-represented globally. He has shaped a community of Africans who share his vision and reflect the dedication shown by Jon Postel."
"I am humbled by the award and what Jon Postel represents to our community in Africa. Jon Postel's efforts and the global view he maintained on the operation of the Domain Name System and the numbering services assured that Africa would share in the Internet growth and early. I thank the Internet Society for the recognition and am very pleased to be associated with Jons memorial," said Dr. Nii Quaynor. "We will work to develop more African engineers to meet the fast network growth needs of the region, being a late starter, and to join the technical policy processes. Our overall objective is to strengthen education and research in network technologies in Africa."
The annual ISOC award is named after Dr. Jonathan B. Postel to commemorate his extraordinary stewardship exercised throughout his thirty-year career in networking. Between 1971 and 1998, Postel managed, nurtured and transformed the RFC series of notes, which encompasses the technical specifications and recommendations for the Internet and was created by Steve Crocker in 1969 as a part of his work on the ARPANET, the forerunner of today's Internet. Postel was a founding member of the Internet Architecture Board and the first individual member of the Internet Society, where he also served as a trustee until his untimely death.
Dr. Quaynor is chairman of Network Computer Systems (NCS) Ghana.COM and a professor of computer science at University of Cape-Coast, Ghana. He is also the convener of the African Network Operators Group (AfNOG), a network technology transfer institution since 2000 and the founding chairman of AfriNIC, the African numbers registry.
Dr. Quaynor began his pioneering Internet work in Africa in 1993 when he returned to his home country of Ghana to establish the first Internet Service operated by NCS in West Africa. At NCS, he and his team worked on the early development of the Internet in Africa. Today, there are more than 43 million Internet users in Africa.
Prior to NCS, Dr. Quaynor worked with Digital Equipment Corporation in the United States from 1977 till 1992. In 1979, he established the Computer Science department at the University of Cape Coast, Ghana. Dr. Quaynor graduated from Dartmouth College in 1972 with B.A (Engineering Science) and received a Ph.D. (Computer Science) in distributed systems in 1977 from State University of New York at Stony Brook.
The Jonathan B. Postel Service Award was established by the Inter-net Society to honor those who, like Postel, have made outstanding contributions in service to the data communications community. The award is focused on sustained and substantial technical con-tributions, service to the community, and leadership. With respect to leadership, the nominating committee places particular emphasis on candidates who have supported and enabled others in addition to their own specificactions.
Previous recipients of the Postel Award include Jon himself (posthumously and accepted by his mother), Scott Bradner, Daniel Karrenberg, Stephen Wolff, Peter Kirstein, Phill Gross, Jun Murai, Bob Braden, and Joyce K. Reynolds. The award consists of an engraved crystal globe and $20,000 [USD]. This year's award is sponsored in part by Afilias Global Registry Services.
Steps Taken for Multilingual Internet
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) will collaborate on global efforts to forge universal standards towards building a multilingual cyberspace. The three agencies organized a workshop on this subject during the second Internet Governance Forum (IGF) which took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from 12 to 15 November 2007.
The Internet is a key factor in developing a more inclusive and development-oriented information society, which stresses plurality and diversity instead of global uniformity. Multilingualism is a key concept to ensure cultural diversity and participation for all linguistic groups in cyberspace. There is growing concern that hundreds of local languages may be sidestepped, albeit unintentionally in the radical expansion of Internet communication and information. The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) recognized the importance attached to linguistic diversity and local content, with UNESCO given the responsibility to coordinate implementation of the Summit Action Line.
"The discussions at this multilingualism workshop—combined with our current evaluation of Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs)—are going to help ICANN keep moving toward full implementation of Internationalized Domain Names," said Dr Paul Twomey, ICANN's President and CEO. "ICANN is in the midst of the largest ever evaluation of IDNs at the top level."
Thanks to ICANN's evaluation of Internationalized Domain Names, Internet users around the globe can now access wiki pages (see http://idn.icann.org/ ) with the domain name example.test in the 11 test languages—Arabic, Persian, Chinese (simplified and traditional), Russian, Hindi, Greek, Korean, Yiddish, Japanese and Tamil. The wikis will allow Internet users to establish their own sub pages with their own names in their own language; one suggestion is: example.test/yourname
Domain Names, which are currently mainly limited to characters from the Latin or Roman scripts, are seen as an important element in enabling the multilingualization of the Internet, reflecting the diverse and growing language needs of all users. "ITU is fully committed to assist its membership in promoting the diversity of language scripts for domain names," said Dr Hamadoun Touré, Secretary-General of ITU. "This workshop represents an important opportunity to strengthen the need for cooperation with relevant organizations, such as UNESCO, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and ICANN among others to ensure Internet use and advancement across language barriers."
The Plenipotentiary Conference of ITU, which took place in Antalya, Turkey in November 2006, recognized the need to make Internet content available in non-Latin based scripts. Internet users are more comfortable reading or browsing through texts in their own language and a multilingual Internet is essential to make it more widely accessible. The WSIS outcomes also focused on the commitment to work towards multilingualization of the Internet as part of a multilateral, transparent and democratic process involving governments and all stakeholders.
UNESCO, joined by both ITU and ICANN, seeks to convene all major stakeholders around the world towards an agreement on universal standards regarding language issues in cyberspace. Such issues are far broader than the single issue of IDNs as they extend to standards for fonts and character sets, text encoding, language implementations within major computer operating systems, content development tools, automatic translation software, and search engines across languages. Ultimately, equitable access to information can be only achieved if we resolve language barriers at the same time we build communications infrastructures and capacity building programs.