Missing Link: Guardian of Rare IP Reserves (Axel Pawlik)

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He was one of the first postmasters of the Internet core of the University of Dortmund, a beekeeper and above all a full-time guardian of the reserves of scarce IP addresses. It was all great, says job optimist Axel Pawlik in the next edition of our interview series with German Internet Pioneers.


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For 20 years, Axel Pawlik led the fortunes of RIPE NCC, the autonomous organization that issued IP addresses in Europe, the Middle East and, initially, North Africa. He was more interested in human networks than a lot of regular nerds, and so he created the basis for a sense of self-care that doesn’t really exist anymore. Preaching on the brave new Internet has always been easier for him than having to sell it, he says himself. Can he imagine that this kind of self-administration could be transferred to other registry-based things like frequency allocation? Why not, Pawlik says in a conversation about the UUCP in padded envelopes, piles of unfinished business addresses, and a policy of sanctions against address administrations he can’t understand.

Axel pawlik

heise online: Axel, you once said that RIPE was the perfect job for you. So why the sudden farewells in November 2019?

Axel Pawlik: 20 years is a long time – and at one point it’s just as good. The farewell process was then quite rapid; The Board of Directors attached importance to the fact that, as I announced, the transition should be done quickly, precisely 20 years after taking office. But I could have imagined a period of transition. Instead, the board immediately appointed the three interim CEOs. Some commented that it was going too fast and that it looked bad

heise online: It really didn’t look good.

Pawlik: A slow transfer would have been possible. I was under no pressure. But the board decided not to and we made the decision together.

heise online: The initiative for change came from you. You didn’t want 20 years yet?

Pawlik: For me, it had to be decided if I would continue to do this until I retire or if I would do something else. Of course, I thought I would always be in touch with the RIPE community, look around, but I’m also free to do something completely different – for example, I’m a passionate cook. Then Corona arrived.

heise: Before you wanted to become a chef, you wanted to be a computer scientist in the early 80s. How did you imagine it?

Pawlik: I first wanted to be a vet and learned Latin for it, but with little success. Then Mr. Glitza came into my school life, a math teacher who had originally been an electrician. At one point, Mr. Glitza put a TRS80 in the school bicycle cellar. Of course, it was an endless gadget with the cassette player, but it was a computer. I took advantage of it and later in college I programmed first on punch cards and then on floppy disks, those eight inch disks, they were really “floppy”. I had one in my pocket for too long and then it kept bending. But it still worked.

Disclaimer: This article is generated from the feed and is not edited by our team.

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