Bill Woodcock: On an Internet Odyssey

He circles the globe to keep ISPs connected, returning occasionally to his high-bandwidth home

7 min read
Photo of Bill Woodcock.
Have Communications, Will Travel: Bill Woodcock goes wherever ISPs around the world need his help.
Photo: Timothy Archibald

Bill Woodcock is only 33, but he already has two decades of experience in computer networking. He has worked in a corporate environment; he has been a successful entrepreneur. But for the past four years Woodcock has been living the life of his dreams, traveling the world building Internet exchanges in places such as Nepal, Brazil, Mozambique, Vietnam, Tanzania, and Afghanistan. As research director for the San Francisco-based nonprofit Packet Clearing House, Woodcock has spent as much as 80 percent of his time globe-trotting. He doesn’t make a lot of money—but then again, he doesn’t need a lot of money: most of his living expenses are covered by his travel budget. And he’s having experiences that he sees as priceless.

As a middle-schooler in Berkeley, Calif., Woodcock made his spending money by pasting strips of type into page layouts for the University of California Press. When the Macintosh computer came out in 1984, the press bought one, and at age 13 Woodcock got his hands on PageMaker, the pioneering PostScript-based desktop publishing program.

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