IEEE President’s Column: Volunteers Are the Greatest

Without them, IEEE could not be the leading professional association for the advancement of technology

3 min read
Photo of 2009 IEEE President John Vig
Photo: Bill Cramer

THE INSTITUTE So, who runs IEEE? The volunteers do, of course. The Board of Directors consists of volunteers, and our journals, conferences, standards, and educational activities are all run by volunteers. Sure, IEEE employs about 1000 staff members, who bring needed business and professional skills, but major decisions are made by volunteers. Without volunteers, IEEE could not be the “leading professional association for the advancement of technology.”

A few months ago, I asked a fellow IEEE director to guess how many volunteers contribute to IEEE in a year. He answered, “Maybe 7000 to 8000?” My hunch was that the number was much higher, so I did a “back of the envelope” calculation and came up with 800,000 volunteers. The result astounded me. Since then, I’ve shown various “experts” my calculation. No one has yet found a flaw in it.

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Why the Internet Needs the InterPlanetary File System

Peer-to-peer file sharing would make the Internet far more efficient

12 min read
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Carl De Torres
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When the COVID-19 pandemic erupted in early 2020, the world made an unprecedented shift to remote work. As a precaution, some Internet providers scaled back service levels temporarily, although that probably wasn’t necessary for countries in Asia, Europe, and North America, which were generally able to cope with the surge in demand caused by people teleworking (and binge-watching Netflix). That’s because most of their networks were overprovisioned, with more capacity than they usually need. But in countries without the same level of investment in network infrastructure, the picture was less rosy: Internet service providers (ISPs) in South Africa and Venezuela, for instance, reported significant strain.

But is overprovisioning the only way to ensure resilience? We don’t think so. To understand the alternative approach we’re championing, though, you first need to recall how the Internet works.

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