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.
Internet Hall of Fame profile