an amazing trip talking IP in Santiago and Patagonia

January 5th, 2009 by kc

In November 2008 I had the honor of being invited to speak at the Chilean Computer Science Society Annual Meeting, this year at the Universidad de Magallanes in Punta Arenas, Chile. I followed a colleague who has been visiting CAIDA for the last two years, Sebastian Castro, back to his sponsoring institution, NIC Chile. We started out with an interesting meeting with a core of technical folk where I learned about the activities of NIC Chile’s recently established research arm (NIC Labs). We exchanged valuable information on the common (and less common) challenges of doing successful research in our respective environments.

Then we went over to Sebastian’s alma mater, the computer science department of the Universidad de Chile, where we met with several engineering professors, many of whom spent graduate school and/or postdoc years abroad, including Alejandro Hevia who recently finished his PhD at UCSD (and who introduced me to Sebastian). It’s a telling indicator that so many Chilean academics return to Chile after spending years abroad — Santiago has a vibrant energy, “two-thirds European influence, one-third American”, one researcher affectionately described the city. The relationship between the university and NIC Chile, which started out as a part of the university, is a healthy and illuminating example of a working public-private partnership in support of the Internet as critical infrastructure. We need more of them in my own country. I was particularly impressed with NIC Chile’s interest in what it would take to: (1) get the DNS root signed; (2) advance naming, routing, and addressing security; (3) make the Internet safe for IPv6. Forward thinkers abound among Chilean academics.

After a whirlwhind taste of Santiago I gave a talk at NIC Chile’s OpenNIC conference, and had lunch with several folks from Asociacion de Proveedores de Internet, a consortium of commercial ISPs in Chile, who asked me great questions about how the Internet, and Internet research, is evolving in the U.S. versus what we both knew of other countries. I gained even more appreciation for the fact that countries are watching each other and trying to learn from the successes and mistakes of others.

We then flew down to Punta Arenas, near the southern tip of Chile (Tierra del Fuego), where the next morning I gave the same talk at Chile’s annual networking conference being held at the Universidad de Magallanes. After some site-seeing and fresh antarctic seafood (mmm.) in Punta Arenas, we rented an SUV, and took off (with husband and two parents who had been entertaining themselves thus far) for a few days of adventures in Patagonia, a phenomenally beautiful part of the planet. Sebastian and Tim carried the same stellar camera, and took pictures like I’ve never seen.

In the meantime, back home at UCSD, CAIDA’s latest routing research results were being announced quite widely since they were about to be published in Nature (to paying subscribers). An earlier (much longer) version is available to Internet users. Definitely worth another essay.

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