From the April, 1998 PC ALAMODE Magazine:
The Internet Society:
Not Just Another Piece of Internet Hype
by Richard Murphy

It seems like everyone has become inured to the Internet and the "internetisms" being tossed about like tennis balls. We have become saturated with network jargon; all movie previews end with a URL being flashed on the screen and the President gives speeches which mention "amazon.com". But this article is not about an Internet society, it is about The Internet Society and it's relevance to San Antonio.

 The Internet Society (ISOC) occupies a unique niche in the evolution of the Internet. As many people know, the success of the Internet is directly related to the development of the non- proprietary network protocol standards which underpin many network technologies. Most of these standards were created in the days of the DoD funded ARPANET and were sustained by government research funding. In the early 1990s, Vint Cerf and some of the other original internetworking pioneers became concerned about future support for the various working groups which debated and published the standards. The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), and the Internet Architecture Board (IAB) were all involved in this process. The Internet Society was formed in January 1992 to assist in the funding of the IETF and to provide an open, international forum for the internetworking standards administrative process. It has grown into a large organization with many programs and a very good bi-monthly publication called "On The Internet." Their comprehensive Web site (www.isoc.org) offers a great deal of information on the organization and I will refer the reader here for more details on their activities.

 So why is membership in this organization useful and important? Is the $35 per year membership fee a "good deal" for the Internet user in San Antonio? In my opinion, the answer is a resounding "yes!" and here are some reasons why:

     
  • Members learn about the fundamental technologies and trends that are shaping the Internet, often from those who have been in the field the longest.

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  • Each issue of "On The Internet" lists the current draft documents for new standards. These will end up affecting everyone, sometimes in not-so-subtle ways.

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  • See the human component of networking technology through articles on how developing countries are using the Internet. Most issues have good articles on educational and sociological issues involving telecommunications technologies.

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  • As a non-profit organization, members are not subjected to blatant commercialism. Throw away all of the ads from the magazines you read now and how much would be left? The articles in "On The Internet" are objective and do not tout particular products.

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  • Find out about conferences and government actions.

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  • Keep up on the latest issues in "real-time" via the on-line e-mail newsletter. Here you will find out about the new top-level domain names, copyright issues, and actions by various states to tax Internet activities.

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To make all this even more relevant to San Antonio, Salsa.Net is seeking to form a local chapter of the ISOC. Presently, most local ISOC chapters are overseas and on the East Coast. In Texas, a chapter is forming in Dallas at this time. Twenty five members are needed to form a local chapter and my guess is that, between Salsa.Net and Alamo PC, there are at least 25 people who would support the ISOC mission "to assure the beneficial, open evolution of the global Internet and its related internetworking technologies through leadership in standards, issues, and education." The monthly Salsa.Net public educational talks would continue under the auspices of the San Antonio chapter of the Internet Society. The chapter would also seek organizational members and sponsors and be able to publicize local initiatives and programs in "On The Internet". 

Consider all of this if you are seriously interested in using technology to benefit our community and positioning San Antonio to enter a very networked new millennium. Contact Richard Murphy (richard@salsa.net) for more information. Join ISOC on-line: www.isoc.org/isoc/membership/

Richard Murphy is a manager at the Southwest Research Institute, where he is involved with the support of scientific data analysis, the development of advanced network applications, and the design of metropolitan area networks. He is a past president of Salsa.Net, a member of ISOC and the ACM, and a participant in the mayor's task force on information infrastructure.