Intertitle: Briefly describe your most vital con­tri­bu­tions; what led you to become an Internet Hall of Fame member?

José Soriano: What we did in that time was not make the choice we did in that time: aca­d­e­m­ic net­works or civ­il soci­ety net­works. We made a nation­al net­work. And we believed what the peo­ple told us about the Internet in that time. That became an equal net­work that allowed usto devel­op the coun­try in an equal way and a demo­c­ra­t­ic way. It was in that time some kind of dictatorship. 

Then we took these ideas and we devel­oped our own vision. This vision to solve the prob­lems of peo­ple with tech­nol­o­gy, not impose tech­nol­o­gy on the peo­ple. And we decid­ed that lan­guage was very impor­tant. Then we trans­lat­ed very elder­ly Eudora, which was email soft­ware. We trans­lat­ed it into Spanish, and also the first web [brows­er], it was called Mosaic. We trans­lat­ed it into the Spanish language. 

But we real­ized one mil­lion speak Quechua Then we intro­duced the Indian lan­guage into the Internet, very ear­ly. I’m talk­ing of 94, some­thing like that. And we began to give cours­es in Quechua, but we began to put con­tent of inter­est for the Indians of our coun­try, which were 8 mil­lion peo­ple then, on the Internet. That was the contribution. 

Intertitle: What are the biggest chal­lenges you had to over­come to achieve suc­cess; how did you over­come them? Was there an aha” moment, a peri­od of impact or a break­through real­iza­tion or a steady flow?

Soriano: We dreamed a lot, then we real­ized our dreams. Peruvians, we said in that time, we are not very good in many things but we are sur­vivors. Then we real­ized how to use this tech­nol­o­gy to sell things from the ori­gin. That means so from Cusco to New York. Some Indian sell­ing pota­toes. Or an arti­san who sold bijoux á Paris. That then allowed us to make anoth­er kind of net­work, than what you you were doing at that time.

I’m not an engi­neer. But I have a lot of stu­dent engi­neers. Then what we did was say the igno­rants are very coura­geous. Then the peo­ple say, You can­not do that.” Ah. You say. We did it. That time they said we can­not do Internet using satel­lites, we did Internet using satel­lites. They said we can­not do, for the Indians, Internet through radio. We did Internet through radio. They said we can­not do it on cell phones. We did it in cell phones. 

Then the chal­lenge makes a very inter­est­ing time for us, because it was very busy, very emo­tion­al, also. We had a lot of inter­est in the peo­ple. And the prob­lems we had were the usu­al prob­lems. We had all the net­works in Latin America. It was the com­mer­cial telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion net­works. They did­n’t want to give us a con­nec­tion. They did­n’t want to allow us to make our own con­nec­tions with United States at that time using satel­lites. But it was in the rules of the game, if you will. And we arrived to solve that problem. 

Intertitle: Which peo­ple, expe­ri­ences or devel­op­ments were most cru­cial in your pro­fes­sion­al suc­cess and its impact?

Soriano: For me it it’s not a project for me. It’s project for all Peruvians. Because the net­work was not made by me, by the engi­neers, by oth­er peo­ple. We did it, thou­sands of Peruvians, with its own inter­ests, with its own con­tent, with its own… We did­n’t talk about Internet as infra­struc­ture at that time. We talked about the Internet as con­tent. As a line that con­duct­ed infor­ma­tion. And we said our infor­ma­tion has almost the same impor­tance as the infor­ma­tion you have in the north­ern coun­tries. Then that has a val­ue. We must have a dif­fer­ence, eco­nom­i­cal­ly, because we have very valu­able infor­ma­tion. Then we worked in the indus­try of infor­ma­tion with the peo­ple of Peru. 

Intertitle: What are your hopes for the future Internet? Your fears? What action should be tak­en now for the best future?

José Soriano: My fears today are the com­pa­nies, the twenty-six per­sons who have 48% of the cap­i­tal of the world. And as the Internet reflects the world, we have the same in the Internet. We have many…very very tiny…three, four, five com­pa­nies, who have the prop­er­ty of all the Internet. And that is the issue in this moment. And that’s some­thing the peo­ple don’t see in this moment. The young peo­ple don’t care about inti­ma­cy. But it’s a very very dif­fi­cult prob­lem because now every­thing is open, and every­body is look­ing around. Then, we must be con­scious of these kind of prob­lems. Which is not new. It’s the same prob­lem we had when we began. But as we did­n’t care for that prob­lem, these prob­lems became very big now. Then we must make some­thing. I don’t know what, because I have no solu­tions. But we need to make reflec­tions about all the guys who make this Internet. We need to reflect on that and fight a lit­tle bit for that kind of goal. 

Intertitle: What advice do you have for the next gen­er­a­tion work­ing in your field?

Soriano: I only hope the youth always have new ideas, inno­va­tions. But now it’s a lit­tle sleepy because they are learn­ing the new tech­nolo­gies. But we have tech­nolo­gies that are very very dan­ger­ous. 5G is going to give con­trol of the Internet to all the telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion com­pa­nies. And that is a prob­lem for the young peo­ple. They must solve it, I don’t know how, but I’m con­fi­dent they’re going to solve it. 

Intertitle: What has sur­prised you most about the Internet as it has developed?

Soriano: Say in that time, if some­body dis­cov­ers some­thing, you must find how you can use it in a way we don’t know we can use it. And that’s all the time. The Internet evolves all the time. Then they are evolv­ing now, again. We don’t know where they go. But we must pay a lot of atten­tion to what is hap­pen­ing in the Internet. Because it’s become, now, almost all our life. We have Internet every­where. The Internet of things. Bitcoin, the econ­o­my. How we con­trol mass­es using the Internet, like analytics…that com­pa­ny in England who make the Brexit, or in Argentina with the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign. Then we must be very very, very clever to try to see far; strate­gi­cal­ly. It’s a thing of an old guy. Who can say? 

Intertitle: What are the most pos­i­tive Internet trends emerg­ing today? What are the most wor­ri­some chal­lenges today?

Soriano: Everything is evolv­ing so fast, so fast. We don’t have time to learn one tech­nol­o­gy, then they are doing anoth­er one. Even if the Internet does­n’t change, the tech­nol­o­gy’s chang­ing very fast. Then we need to appro­pri­ate these kinds of tech­nolo­gies. If do not appro­pri­ate, that means— What does appro­pri­ate mean? Know how it works. To do thing about, with that kind of tech­nol­o­gy. If we don’t know it, they’re going to use it to make things we don’t know what.

Further Reference

Internet Hall of Fame pro­file