The Internet. It’s not commodity, it’s community. – Guest Blog
Guest blog post by Kevin Otte
When I was a sophomore in high school, I participated in a job shadowing program. I was paired up with the Network Administrator of a decently sized company in the area. When he first showed me the network core of the building and I saw the lights on the switches, I was hooked. It was a bit like walking into Engineering on the Enterprise, only instead of Hollywood blinkenlights, I could tell what each one meant.
Most of the school networks I connected to were very restricted. There were ways out to the Internet, but it usually involved some crazy proxying scheme (the sanest of them was a SOCKS server). Once I made it to university, I saw public IPv4 addresses for the first time. Finally having end-to-end connectivity made life _so_ much easier.
I started working with IPv6 back in 2009, but it was still very much a “that’s new and interesting” sort of thing. Nonetheless, I explored the protocol deeply and really started to understand. It wasn’t until early 2010 that I started to see the pressing need. Once I saw John Curran’s “IPv6: No Longer Optional” talk at SouthEast LinuxFest that year, I knew I had to be an agent of the change to come.
Public speaking was never my forte, but I knew I had to get the word out. Already being involved with the open source community, this seemed like a prime avenue for introducing people to these concepts. We all use the Internet every day now and probably even see dotted quads without even registering it, but how close to consciousness were the inner workings of the network? A few months later I would find out.
In August 2010 I gave my first talk, “Getting Started with IPv6″, to my local LUG. It was very well received and the audience was very engaged with many relevant questions. Thoroughly excited by this, I left them all with a homework assignment: Go home and set up an IPv6 tunnel. This way they could start gaining experience for themselves. At the next month’s meeting, I asked during community announcements who in the group had completed my assignment. Sadly, not a single hand went up.
My first major speaking engagement was presenting this same talk at the Ohio LinuxFest in September 2010. Again I had a wonderfully engaged crowd, and conversations went well into the evening. Unfortunately, once the event was over, it again felt like a deafening silence. This, in addition to my local LUG experience, led me to realize that I had to do something more engaging.
The coming months led to the creation of a somewhat portable IPv6 test lab where people could bring their own gear to interact directly with the test environment. With the help of my local LUG and hackerspace, I conducted two hands-on workshops in May 2011. In each session I reprised my “Getting Started” talk in very condensed form and then let the attendees go to town. They were smash hits. I don’t think I sat down for more than ten minutes during the seven hour sessions.
The lead-up to World IPv6 Launch was spent helping a large university prepare, and reprising my speaking role at the local LUG. Three days after launch, despite Mr. Curran being a tough act to follow, I delivered “IPv6: All Systems Go” to the SouthEast LinuxFest, and this time it was caught on tape:
Now that we’re approaching one year past launch, I find it’s time to renew my efforts to engage the community. As such, I’ve made plans to take the hands-on workshop on the road. Of course, conventions are used to dealing with groups rather than individuals when talking about booth space. As such, I formed Flying Penguin Technologies with the help of a friend. We’ll start off at SouthEast LinuxFest 2013, and go on to other venues from there.
Much as ARIN has the slogan “It’s not new, it’s now” for IPv6, my takeaway from all this can be summed up in a similar slogan: “It’s not commodity, it’s community.” The Internet isn’t something you just turn on and start using. It’s a huge group of people with a wide range of interests working together, and it’s been an honor to contribute to making it better.