Building Our New Website: Improved search, speed, and an open issue tracker

As we continue to evolve our new website, I will provide more regular updates to all of you visiting our site. Today’s topics are: improved search; much faster speed; and an open issue tracker.

Searching our content

For all of you who contacted us saying “I can’t find anything” on the site through the search box (the magnifying glass in the upper right corner of the screen), we’ve got some great news – it should now work!   We tried two different search solutions for all our content before we moved on to a third solution that we find works well. Please do let us know if you are still having challenges finding content.

Speeding up the site

The site should now be much faster! We recently deployed some caching servers in front of our site and the speed should be dramatically improved for most all of the pages. This was very important to us as we want to provide the best user experience.

Tracking open issues

If you do find anything wrong with the new site, we have an open issue tracker on Github. You can visit the repository at:

https://github.com/InternetSociety/web-site-feedback

and the actual list of open issues is at: https://github.com/InternetSociety/web-site-feedback/issues

You are welcome to open issues there and we’ll be notified. If you don’t have a Github account and for some reason you don’t want to create one, you are always welcome to email me directly at york@isoc.org.

We welcome any and all feedback about the site. Thank you for visiting – and for supporting the work of the Internet Society to ensure that the Internet remains open, globally connected, secure, and trusted for everyone.

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Internet Society

Automatically open doors with Arduino!

Tired of doing the mundane task of opening your door? This hack from Sieuwe Elferink takes care of that for you, using an Arduino Uno for control.

When someone comes within 50 cm of an ultrasonic sensor attached to the door, the Arduino uses an H-bridge relay to power a windshield wiper motor, which opens and closes it via a linkage setup. Another sensor is implemented on the opposite side of the door, allowing hands-free travel both ways!

Want to build your own? You can find instructions here, while code is available on GitHub.

Arduino Blog

Help Make the Internet Open to All: Join SIG Women!

When we talk about women and technology, we need to talk data. In the United States, a recent report by the National Center for Women and Information Technology highlighted that only 26% of the workforce in the computer field is made up of women. In addition, a survey by Silicon Valley Bank revealed that 68% of startups do not have women on their board. In India, women make up just 30% of the workforce in the technology industry. In many European countries, the wage gap between men and women is present in technological positions. In Latin America, the proportion of women studying in computer careers is low. In addition, shortcomings in Internet access makes it difficult for women of all ages to use the technology in Africa.

Increasing access, skills, and leadership of women and girls in ICT has enormous potential for improving their health and emancipating them through access to information, education and trade opportunities, strengthening not only families and communities, but also national economies and global society as a whole.

In order to speak on a daily basis and to make the problem visible, we considered it necessary to create a Special Interest Group to help change those statistics and to break down the barriers that – at different levels and different realities – still exist between women and technology. In pursuit of these objectives, SIG Women will be a neutral space where women and men can develop, train, discuss, and link their work.

Our general objective:
Promote a global neutral space that works towards the involvement of women in technology and contributes to reducing the gender gap in the field.”

We want to work with civil organizations, institutions, and companies that currently have or are interested in projects related to women and technology. We also want to work with women to help shape the future of the Internet.

Can men participate? Of course. We need everyone to work hand in hand.

SIG Women’s main interest is in the work and empowerment of women in technology issues. It seeks to be a neutral space for projects, initiatives, and stakeholders that advocate for greater inclusion of women in technology and contribute to gender equality in the field.

We invite you to join! We know that the road is not easy, but with your support we will achieve great goals.

Find SIG Women on Facebook, Twitter, and via email!

If we want to ensure that the Internet remains a free and safe digital space for all, it is time to join SIG Women.

Angélica Contreras will be attending the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) later this month as an IGF Ambassador, where this year’s theme is Shape Your Digital Future.

Explore the IGF schedule, which includes the following gender-focused sessions: Women and LGBTQI in the IGF, Tackling gender divides: ICT and women’s economic empowerment (WS37) (organized by ICC Basis), TU/UN Women EQUALS in Tech Awards Ceremony: Closing the gender digital divideEQUALS in Tech Panel Discussion (OF26)BPF on Gender & Access, and Main Session on Gender.

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Internet Society

Continuing David Vyorst’s Legacy: Recognizing the Next Generation of Open Internet Advocates

Last week we shared the sad news that David Vyorst, the Executive Director of the ISOC-DC chapter and an instrumental part of the North American Internet community, passed away.

The DC Chapter and the Internet Society are jointly establishing a fellowship award in David’s name. The fellowship will be awarded to a young person in a US-based chapter who has an innovative project or initiative for making a chapter more effective in advancing the values of a free and open Internet accessible by everyone.

You can visit the DC Chapter’s website to make a donation in David’s memory.

Photo credit: Glenn McKnight

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Internet Society

The open web is dead, but do we have to kill the internet too?

ISPs could prevent the next Waze. That would be terrible.

For many years I covered the the Federal Communications Commission, specifically the years-long fight to get some sort of formal network neutrality regulation passed. Then I started digging into the so-called internet of things a half decade ago as my new passion and I thought my days of covering the FCC were over. But the two are still intertwined.

Three years later, I saw the agency pass rules that would prevent some of the bad behavior that ISPs had tried in the preceding years to kill competitive voice and video services. The network neutrality rules of 2015 stopped carriers from interfering with lawful traffic passing over their networks.

At the time this meant that Comcast couldn’t block BitTorrent traffic and small ISPs in Wisconsin couldn’t block Skype calls. Thanks to the 2015 rules, network neutrality also applied in some measure to wireless networks, which meant that AT&T blocking FaceTime was not cool, nor was Verizon making favorable deals with Skype.

Last week, while the U.S. was focused on Thanksgiving turkey, the current FCC chairman Ajit Pai declared that on Dec. 14 he would bring a repeal of the 2015 network neutrality laws to a vote. With three Republican commissioners, Pai’s plan would likely pass. In the days since, however, we’ve seen one Republican senatordefect from Pai’s camp, a concerted effort by tech firms to galvanize support for network neutrality and Comcast erase its commitment to avoid paid prioritization on its network.

So what’s the fear here? At a minimum, a company like Comcast could prioritize its own services over those from other providers. Darker scenarios involve Comcast charging companies money for fast-lane access to end consumers. From an IoT perspective, this means that Comcast could let packets from its security alarm and camera service go ahead of those of ADT’s or Nest’s.

But the bigger picture is about what we don’t know. It’s always hard in technology to anticipate what’s next. No one saw the Amazon Echo coming until it was here for a few months. Relatively few people were excited about Nokia’s smartphones before the iPhone and its capacitive touch screen arrived in 2007. And when I was testing the first 3G modems from Verizon by streaming internet radio on my laptop while driving in my car, I couldn’t see Waze or Uber coming.

Yet, what these services have in common is they rely on broadband networks that are threatened by the repeal of network neutrality rules. One reason the Nokia smartphones didn’t catch on in the U.S.? The carriers didn’t subsidize them on their networks. (They also didn’t have that touchscreen.) AT&T agreeing to support the iPhone was a big deal. It knew that it would use a lot of data, challenging and showcasing its network.

And when Apple introduced the App Store in 2008 it managed to do what carriers had so far screwed up for years. It finally made on-device apps and services accessible and consumable.

It did this by offering developers an easy way to get their ideas onto a platform with millions of consumers. It also allowed developers to make money in a way that didn’t require dealing with the carriers. With awesome content, Apple’s iPhone stood apart from the competition that rapidly copied its hardware.

Apple’s advantage was its hardware, but it was also the company’s approach to software that would run on its devices. Carriers wanted to control everything, and when they did they slowed innovation. Carriers offered app stores. They had a large, captive customer base. It didn’t help.

The point here is that the carriers had the tools to move beyond their role as the provider of the broadband pipe. But they consistently failed because they didn’t see — or didn’t want to see – what the mobile future needed. Instead of proprietary platforms and deals to get app developers to pay the carriers for space on the device (hello bloatware), people wanted innovation. While every now and then carriers might let someone on the platform that would provide an awesome game or program, that would be the exception rather than the rule.

The flatter playing field provided by the Apple App Store and Google’s Play Store, as well as the huge audience on those platforms, meant that there was a reason and a way to build something a little crazy to see if it worked. We’re neck deep in those crazy ideas today. Many of your favorite apps might never have existed under the old carrier-based app store regime.

What’s astonishing is that as carriers saw themselves falling behind they didn’t learn the lesson. They instead tried to build a new app store and even a failed digital payments system to compete. They did little to woo developers and even tried to block some apps on their network. At a time when wireless carriers had the hottest commodity in the world with mobile data, carriers didn’t focus on what they had, and instead tried to build a new industry in an area where they were ill-suited to compete.

Many operators believe they were stuck with a form of the innovator’s dilemma, where they couldn’t invest in the new without cannibalizing the old, but what they should have done is embrace their role as an essential infrastructure provider and double down on making data delivery as efficient as possible. It’s the same strategy Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook are pursuing with their computing infrastructure. And now Facebook is moving into telecommunications with various open source telecom projects.

So what does this have to do with IoT and network neutrality? Simply this. The ISPs have failed when it comes to innovation in the 21st century. Yes, they have excellent engineers and have put together complex worldwide networks. But when it comes to creating agile businesses that can adapt to the pace of technological change, they have failed. The default is always to try to control the pipe; to turn broadband into a pricey resource available to a few.

As we add more sensors to the world, we have the opportunity to pull in new data streams and use that data to create new applications and services. We don’t even know what those will look like. We’re at the point I was at in 2003 driving around listening to internet radio from my open laptop resting on my passenger seat.

If ISPs have their way, we won’t see the Wazes or the Dark Skys of the next era of technology advancement because the creators won’t build them.

I have two hopes here. One is that Pai’s efforts fail because Republicans in the House pull back from this issue (or Trump offers a scathing tweet in response to an angry Fox News host). The second is that even if Pai succeeds, the engineering talent and massive war chests at Facebook or Apple lead to new networks.

After all, optimization is the key to success at many web companies that measure and manage everything. If reaching their billions of users costs more, and they can find a way to cut those costs, they will get into last-mile networks. Already they are researching new technology such as microwave spectrum and smart antennas to deliver broadband. When a resource is abundant, people innovate on it. But when it is scarce, people innovate around it. Carriers would do well to remember that.

It’s a small hope, and we’ll miss out on plenty while we wait, but it’s the only hope we’ll have if Pai succeeds.

Stacey on IoT | Internet of Things news and analysis