Monday, 12 August 2013 00:05
Prof. Gihan Dias inducted to the Internet Hall of Fame
By G. Sajeewani
For the first time in Sri Lankan history, Prof. Gihan Dias, one of the pioneers of internet in Sri Lanka, has been inducted to the Internet Hall of Fame (IHF) as a Global Connector by the Internet Society for his contributions to the global internet.
The IHF is an annual international awards program established by the Internet Society (ISOC) to publicly recognise a distinguished and select group of visionaries, leaders and luminaries who have made significant contributions to the development and advancement of global internet. Prof. Gihan Dias was among the 32 inductees who received their awards at IHF’s second annual awards ceremony on 3 August 2013 in Berlin, Germany.
Inductees are considered in three categories – as Pioneers: Individuals who were instrumental in the early design and development of the internet, Global Connectors: Individuals who made outstanding technological, commercial or policy advances and helped to expand the internet’s reach, and Innovators: Individuals from around the world who have made significant contributions to the global growth and use of the Internet. Prof. Dias was awarded as a Global Connector for his great contribution to expand internet in Sri Lanka.
Prof. Dias was instrumental in setting up and running the Lanka Education and Research Network (LEARN), starting with Sri Lanka’s first e-mail system in 1990. He led LEARN from 1993 to 2003. Prof. Dias also was founder and first president of the Lanka Academic Network (LacNet), a non profit, volunteer organisation of Sri Lankan students, teachers and professionals whose primary mission is to enhance educational opportunities in Sri Lanka by increasing the accessibility of information technology to its students.
He earned a B. Sc in Engineering from the University of Moratuwa and Master’s and PhD degrees from the University of California. In addition to being a professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Moratuwa, he is the Domain Registrar and CEO of the LK Domain Registry – a not-for-profit top-level domain registry for Sri Lanka formed in 1990. He has also assisted a number of internet service providers in setting up their own networks. In 2003/04, he was a founding Program Director of the Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA), the Government body responsible for the development of ICT in the country.
Prof. Dias stated in his speech: “We didn’t have any social network before 1988 and telephone charges were very high but after 1999, we had major internet expansion in universities and we made people aware about the internet. But this is not what I have done alone, there are many to remember who were with us, especially Prof. J.B. Dissanayake, Wasantha Deshapriya and others. We also identified the importance of a web in both Sinhala and Tamil languages because 90% of people in Sri Lanka use these two languages to communicate; bloggers use Sinhala or Tamil languages in addition to Government institutions. So we introduced Sinhala and Tamil protocols.”
He added: “In Sri Lanka, we have the greater viability of using internet at low rates when developed countries charge high rates. We have more things to do, especially improving the safety and privacy of our internet users.” He also invited all the participants to join the Internet Society of Sri Lanka.
Chairman of LK Domain Registry Dr. R.B. Ekanayake, Former Chairman of Internet Society of Sri Lanka (ISOC) Harsha Wijewardene and Director of Research and Development Division of LK Domain Registry Prof. Sanath Jayasena also participated at the event. A felicitation was held by the Board of Management of LK Domain Registry at the Galadari on 6 August as a sign of respect for Prof. Dias for his great achievement.