The DO-IT Kids
The following article appeared in the January, 1995 issue of ODYSSEY and is being reprinted by permission of the publisher.
There's something out there called the Internet. It's what we call the vast worldwide system of linked computers that can provide access to Tokyo from Texas, or show students photographs of the moon minutes after a probe sends them to Earth. Sometimes the Internet is called the "Information Superhighway," because it's like a far-reaching system of roadways between computers.
In this enormous system of links, finding a specific computer could become a cyber-wilderness (cyber - a prefix used to indicate virtual reality, or electronic existence) adventure! But the Internet solves this problem by using its own special system of addresses. Just as you might live at 1200 Main Street, a computer might reside at an address like joyce.en.utexas.edu. The end abbreviation edu stands for "education." (Other endings are com for "commercial," gov for "government," and au for "Australia," just to name a few.) The utexas is a unique abbreviation for "University of Texas at Austin." The en stands for "English department," and joyce is the name of the computer itself.
Because the Internet is such a large resource, thousands of special-interest groups from all over the world join it. One such group, DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology), has linked the computer hawking.u.washington.edu to the Internet, forming an internationally accessible center for storing and distributing information about its activities and philosophy. DO-IT's goal is to encourage young adults with disabilities to participate in science, engineering, and mathematics, academic programs and careers. The program's Internet address serves as a special flag for the DO-IT scholars - high school kids with disabilities and special aptitudes for math or science.
Last July, at the University of Washington campus, Stephen Hawking related to the DO-IT kids his lifelong struggle for success, and encouraged the students to be positive about themselves. Inspired, the DO-IT kids dubbed their program's Internet computer hawking to announce globally their appreciation of the heroic strength and will of the man who embodies everything they work toward.
Picture caption: DO-IT scholars and other students with disabilities enjoyed Stephen Hawking's company when he visited Seattle Pacific University in 1993.