Demi Getschko: Leader” is too strong a word, but any­way I am part of— The Internet is a col­lab­o­ra­tive effort. All the peo­ple vol­un­tar­i­ly coop­er­ate to have the net­work in place. I was involved in the net­work­ing in Brazil since the very begin­ning. I worked for an insti­tu­tion where the first the Internet con­nec­tion was made. We began with an aca­d­e­m­ic net­work in 88, but ini­tial­ly with BITNET and then HEPnet. HEPnet stands for High Energy Physics Network. It’s a net­work based on DECnet, an old pro­pri­etary protocol. 

Then in 89 we got .br del­e­gat­ed to the Brazilian ini­tia­tive, and we con­nect­ed to the Internet in 91, when our con­nec­tion point in the US, the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory went to the Internet, join­ing the ESnet—Energy Sciences Network at that time. Then from 91 so now we of course saw the Internet grow­ing more and more and oth­er net­works appear­ing. And what we have now is that the Internet is a very pow­er­ful net. 

Intertitle: Describe one of the break­through moments of the Internet in which you have been a key participant?

Getschko: Well I guess in the late 80s, for exam­ple, in most parts of the world there was a com­mit­ment from the gov­ern­ments and the tele­com agen­cies to stick to the OSI pro­to­cols, the ISO OSI pro­to­cols from at that time CCITT. Then changed it to I2. Then it was real­ly a dif­fi­cult time or a strug­gle to make TCP/IP pre­vail because there was a com­mit­ment from the gov­ern­ments to go ahead with the ISO stack. But any­way, we all in some way proved that TCP/IP was the real solu­tion, a bet­ter solu­tion at that time, and we got the providers and the oper­a­tors to begin to offer this kind of ser­vice. And this was a real­ly impor­tant change to the Internet, because oth­er­wise we would have some kind relat­ed to the tel­co reg­u­la­tors and so on. 

Intertitle: Discuss your expec­ta­tions for the future of the Internet.

Getschko: Okay, I’m a very bad prophet. I nev­er know where things are going. But I keep being sur­prised with the ener­gy and the sta­bil­i­ty and the pos­si­bil­i­ty to grow that the Internet showed all this time. In the begin­ning we had a net­work based in text, basi­cal­ly. And then in 92 or 93 in Brazil the Web became a real­i­ty. The Web brings a lot of new users to the net­work, with all the fam­i­ly pho­tos and the pho­tos of the dogs and oth­er things. It was a total­ly dif­fer­ent thing. 

But in some ways, the ini­tial con­cepts sur­vived and the Internet could evan­ge­lize the new com­merce to their own prin­ci­ples. It was very good. Then in some way the net­work defends itself against ideas that are not com­pat­i­ble with their concept. 

And now we’re see­ing more and more videos and oth­er media. I sup­pose more than half of the traf­fic is not relat­ed any­more to email or to text, but to video and enter­tain­ment. It’s also in Brazil that enter­tain­ment is a good part of the traf­fic on the Internet. And we expect this to keep grow­ing, because the band­width is more or less cheap now with fiber optic fibers. They pro­vid­ed a very good com­pro­mise between price and band­width and ser­vice, and you have the com­put­er pow­er grow­ing each year. And then you can have both of the best faces of the coin. You have the growth in band­width and grow­ing com­put­er pow­er. And I think we’ll see the Internet grow­ing more and more and giv­ing pow­er to the com­mon cit­i­zen, to the people. 

Intertitle: What are your great­est hopes and fears for the future of the Internet?

Getschko: The Internet in some ways kind of rup­tured, if you look at all the struc­tures and all the eco­nom­i­cal mod­els and so on. In this way, the Internet rep­re­sents also a threat to the sta­tus quo in many busi­ness oper­a­tions and so on. Then of course the well-established sta­tus quo in some ways fears the Internet. And there are some threats that the Internet has faced in these years. We expect of course that the Internet will sur­vive through these threats, keep­ing the orig­i­nal con­cepts of inclu­sive­ness, of open­ness, of being a col­lab­o­ra­tive effort with vol­un­tary inclu­sion of every­one that wants to be there. But of course you have to take care about the threats and the risks we are run­ning right now, and we are all strug­gling to get the Internet as it was and it is now. 

Intertitle: What action should be tak­en to ensure the best pos­si­ble future?

Getschko: I think that what we have to do now is to make the aware­ness of that big­ger and big­ger to the oth­er peo­ple. We have a lot of events that are relat­ed to Internet gov­er­nance. We will have in this month in Brazil the Net Mundial, an event that will dis­cuss prin­ci­ples to in some way pro­tect the Internet and also a road map for the ecosys­tem. And we respect to have good results from that meet­ing. I sup­pose the best way to pro­tect the Internet is to explain the Internet to oth­er peo­ple, and show— But it’s easy for them to under­stand the qual­i­ties and the pos­si­bil­i­ties the Internet brings, but in some cas­es they can­not under­stand the gov­er­nance thing. How some­thing like the Internet that is mul­ti­stake­hold­er, is not depen­dent on gov­ern­ments or reg­u­la­tors, can grow in such a good way. Then I sup­pose our mis­sion is to keep this on the right track.