Jason Livingood: So I’m a mem­ber of the Internet Society board of trustees, and have been involved in obvi­ous­ly help­ing to lead and guide the devel­op­ment of the Internet Society and set the direc­tion for where we’re going in the future. And pro­fes­sion­al­ly I helped start one of the biggest ISPs now in North America, and helped devel­op their cable modem ser­vice for broad­band in the United States. 

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

Livingood: In terms of break­through moments I think the emer­gence of broad­band. So, when I first got involved in the Internet it was most­ly dial-up if you were an end user. If you were a big busi­ness you might have had a one and a half megabit-per-second line called a T1 line. And I was very involved in the break­through and the cre­ation and the deploy­ment across the United States of a cable modem-based broad­band ser­vice. And to take a ser­vice that as a large com­pa­ny, get­ting one and a half megabits per sec­ond and spend­ing thou­sands of dol­lars per month and mak­ing that some­thing that an aver­age per­son could afford at twen­ty, thir­ty, forty dol­lars a month was trans­for­ma­tive. And that real­ly helped launch the Internet as a con­sumer ser­vice in the United States. 

Intertitle: Describe the state of the Internet today with a weath­er anal­o­gy and explain why.

Livingood: Well I think it’s sun­ny. I think that there are cer­tain­ly con­cerns about some aspects of the Internet, whether that’s secu­ri­ty or sur­veil­lance or oth­er types of things. But gen­er­al­ly speak­ing the Internet I think is a phe­nom­e­nal, con­stant­ly grow­ing and evolv­ing, organ­ic kind of thing. And it’s hard to tell, you know, what’ll come next and what’ll be the next cool thing. But it’s done a fan­tas­tic job of con­nect­ing peo­ple around the world and build­ing com­mu­ni­ties, and I see a great future for that. But I still think it’s quite good now as well. 

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

Livingood: The biggest fears are that the Internet will frac­ture in some way or become balka­nized, so to speak, where it breaks up into sort of region­al net­works and there’s no one glob­al net­work any­more. So that’s cer­tain­ly one fear. 

And you know, per­haps a relat­ed fear is that secu­ri­ty of the Internet or the sta­bil­i­ty of it becomes a prob­lem and that hin­ders its future growth or its con­tin­ued growth. But you know, from a pos­i­tive stand­point, I think that there’s just a huge oppor­tu­ni­ty to enable peo­ple to have access to edu­ca­tion­al ser­vices that they nev­er did before, to have access to the world and to infor­ma­tion and to com­mu­ni­cate with oth­er peo­ple in a real­ly rich way. I think we have very few peo­ple, rel­a­tive­ly speak­ing, that are con­nect­ed to the Internet today. So if you can imag­ine anoth­er four or five or six bil­lion peo­ple con­nect­ed to the Internet, what kind of ideas and new things do they bring? You know, it’s hard to say but I think it’ll be excit­ing to see what happens. 

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

Livingood: Well I think con­tin­u­ing to keep it open. So using open stan­dards. That helps any­body con­nect to the Internet, it helps dri­ve the cost down of con­nect­ing to the Internet and so on. And of devel­op­ing busi­ness­es around it. So I think open stan­dards are impor­tant. That has to con­tin­ue. And the cur­rent mod­el of Internet gov­er­nance, which is an open one, with mul­ti­stake­hold­er, consensus-based, not vot­ing based on coun­tries. Those things are impor­tant, very impor­tant, espe­cial­ly right now.