Test Your Nerd Knowledge: Aug. 31, 2022

Here’s a review of this week’s questions:

  1. What cloud computing company’s name is derived from the Hawaiian word for “cool”?
  2. What does IoT refer to?
  3. What popular series of video games was designed to teach schoolchildren about the realities of 19th century pioneer life?

And here are the answers:

  1. Answer: Akamai Technologies. Providing web and internet security services as well as cloud services and cyber solutions, Akamai Technologies has its origin in a 1998 competition among students at MIT. After the suggestion of a colleague, founder Daniel Lewin discovered the word akamai in a Hawaiian-English dictionary, defined as “clever,” or more colloquially, “cool.”  Composed of more than 15,000 servers in more than 65 countries,  the network provides software and services to help customers ensure reliable delivery of web content and applications. Akamai uses sophisticated programming to monitor web traffic, makes extra copies of high-demand content, and spreads out requests, routing them to a server in the geographic proximity of the end user. Early clients included Disney, ESPN, and MTV. The company now employs over 8,000 people.
  2. Answer: Internet of Things. Originally coined by Kevin Ashton in 1999, The term Internet of Things has become increasingly visible and prevalent in today’s technological discourse. Described as “the integration of people, processes and technology with connectable devices and sensors to enable remote monitoring, status, manipulation and evaluation of trends of such devices,” the concept became pervasive around 2010 and went mainstream in 2014, when Google purchased Nest. The acquisition gave Google “access” to over 100,000 thermostats in homes around the world. Seen by some as scary or dystopian, the fact that physical objects are linked through wired and wireless networks and observed or possibly controlled by huge capitalistic corporations must be viewed as the natural progression of the role that technology plays in our lives. The positive take can be that our interconnected world provides opportunities for levels of happiness and contentment that could only be dreamt about in 1999. 
  3. Answer: Oregon Trail. Perhaps the most influential educational video game ever created, Oregon Trail was first introduced in 1971 by teachers at Jordan Junior High School in Minneapolis. Inventors Don Rawitsch, Bill Heinemann, and Paul Dillenberger were college students when they took Rawitsch’s idea – which began as a dice game – and quickly coded it in BASIC in a utility closet at Jordan. The basic narrative involved players, loaded up in a covered wagon with food and supplies, lighting out from Independence, Missouri, in April 1848, for Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Day by day, unforeseen difficulties arose, such as illness, bandits and bad weather. Players then tried their hands at a selection of mini games asking them to hunt and ford rivers. To win the game, they had to make it to western Oregon with at least a few members of their party still alive. The idea was sold to an educational consortium that eventually released it as a video game in 1974. The game has remained popular with players of all ages up to the present day, and there have been numerous sequels, including “The Yukon Trail,” “The Amazon Trail” and “Africa Trail.”