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

Michael Stanton: I was work­ing in Brazil since 1971. But it was­n’t for anoth­er six­teen years before I got involved in some­thing relat­ed to this mat­ter of Internet. And in 1987, I man­aged to pro­voke an open nation­al dis­cus­sion about the need for some­thing like the NSFNET, which had just start­ed oper­at­ing in the United States. And so that was where I start­ed, I suppose. 

The oth­er things I think that are wor­thy of con­tri­bu­tion are build­ing the first state-wide net­work with­in the state I live in, Rio de Janeiro. That was in 1989, 91. And in 1990, build­ing the first long-distance TCP/IP net­work, which was adopt­ed, this tech­nol­o­gy was adopt­ed, for the nation­al net­work project which was under­way by then and imple­ment­ed in 1992

At RNP, which is the name of the orga­ni­za­tion which… It was first­ly the name of the project which built the first Internet. It’s not the name of the orga­ni­za­tion which runs it today. And since 2002 I’ve been work­ing there. I was orig­i­nal­ly sec­ond­ed from my uni­ver­si­ty. And I helped to extend the per­for­mance enve­lope of our net­works dur­ing the next few years. I’ve been there for what, 17 years now. And the tech­nol­o­gy has changed, and we’ve all been help­ing in our dif­fer­ent ways to adopt the new­er tech­nolo­gies to meet the needs of the com­mu­ni­ty we serve, which is the research and edu­ca­tion com­mu­ni­ty in Brazil. 

I’ve also worked with col­lab­o­ra­tive projects with uni­ver­si­ty research groups. Since I’m from basi­cal­ly a uni­ver­si­ty back­ground that’s been very easy. I’m well-accepted by my for­mer peers with­in this region, and we’ve been devel­op­ing for many years advanced ser­vices for our users on this network. 

I’ve also been involved in net­work devel­op­ment, par­tic­u­lar­ly long-distance opti­cal net­works. The par­tic­i­pa­tion in the RedCLARA net­work. RedCLARA was cre­at­ed to inter­con­nect Latin American coun­tries. I tar­get­ed six­teen coun­tries and about twelve or thir­teen of these take part. One of these was…well: José Soriano from Peru was involved in some of the first net­works there. But this phase came lat­er. He missed out on that. 

And I think the inter­na­tion­al col­lab­o­ra­tions are worth men­tion­ing. Because for the last fif­teen years or so, I’ve been much involved in col­lab­o­ra­tion with oth­er net­work­ing orga­ni­za­tions in oth­er coun­tries. There’s the CLARA net­work, there’s the US net­works, and the European net­works, and we have had a lot of inter­ac­tion con­cern­ing how best to pro­vide the con­nec­tions we need in order to make a glob­al Internet. 

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?

Stanton: It took some time after I dis­cov­ered about the exis­tence of NSFNET in 1985, 86. There was a time when sud­den­ly things crys­tal­lized in my head. You could call it a eure­ka moment or an epiphany or some­thing like that when I decid­ed that this is some­thing that real­ly I need­ed to be involved in. And from that time on, the Internet has been an impor­tant part of my pro­fes­sion­al life. And more recent­ly of course, of every­thing else which we do. 

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

Stanton: Well since I’m from a uni­ver­si­ty back­ground, then it has been most impor­tant that I have had the sup­port and encour­age­ment of col­leagues in this com­mu­ni­ty. And this has hap­pened both from the uni­ver­si­ties I’ve worked at—I’ve worked at three whilst I’ve been in Brazil—and also the sci­en­tif­ic soci­eties which I’ve also had con­tact with. And these togeth­er have been impor­tant in many ways for defin­ing things to do and for being able to accom­plish them. 

The peo­ple in the uni­ver­si­ty com­mu­ni­ty work a lot in col­lab­o­ra­tions, and the Internet is good because it to not only allows you a space for col­lab­o­rat­ing in order to build it, and extend it, and make it more func­tion­al, but also it pro­vides the ser­vices which are impor­tant for that. So these are sort of…they work togeth­er and that is great. 

There are, because of this startoff, some par­tic­u­lar peo­ple to have been impor­tant in this tra­jec­to­ry of mine. There are sev­er­al present mem­bers of the Internet Hall of Fame who I’ve had con­tact with as a result of this ini­tial inter­est in the Internet. The first of those was Glenn Ricart. Glenn is one of the pio­neers. He came to Brazil…actually 1985, the year of the NSFNET. And he came to try to encour­age peo­ple in the state of Rio to per­form a twin­ning oper­a­tion with the state of Maryland. Apparently there is some kind of for­mal link between the two states. And he came to see me at the uni­ver­si­ty where I was work­ing. And it was news to me. That’s why I did­n’t real­ly react very well. But he also talked to the sci­en­tif­ic com­put­ing cen­ter in Rio de Janeiro, LNCC.

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

Michael Stanton: The tech­nol­o­gy which enables net­works is advanc­ing strong­ly at the moment. You see this most­ly in the devel­op­ment of opti­cal net­works and also of radio net­works with 5G progress which is going on at the moment. And so these are going to make it pos­si­ble to make net­work­ing cheap­er by pro­vid­ing more capac­i­ty or for enabling use by more peo­ple for doing more com­plex things. These are good things. 

The R&D net­works, the research and edu­ca­tion net­works, have to accom­pa­ny this. I mean, if the research and edu­ca­tion net­work is not capa­ble of offer­ing ser­vices which are more advanced than the com­mer­cial net­works, then the rea­son for hav­ing them tends to go away. 

And this is some­thing which we believe has to be stressed, that there are users which can­not be served by the com­mer­cial net­works at the moment at a decent price. Everything even­tu­al­ly comes down to price and the idea of being able to have aggre­gat­ed net­works which can be used by high-performance users as well as the less-aggressive peo­ple, if you like, can be built and oper­at­ed eco­nom­i­cal­ly if you have the right conditions.

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

Stanton: One of the activ­i­ties we are involved in at RNP is to try to encourage—or to encour­age, actually—the devel­op­ment of new ser­vices and appli­ca­tions. And we in fact finance projects with uni­ver­si­ty groups to be able to do this. Initially this was to pro­vide ser­vices for our own net­work, to offer to our users. But there are more gen­er­al appli­ca­tions than just our net­works. They’re also for oth­er peo­ple’s net­works. And so one of the big things is to show that there are a means of mak­ing mon­ey and a liv­ing out of devel­op­ing these services. 

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

Stanton: When the Internet began, you had to have a wired con­nec­tion to some place which was on the net­work. So every­thing had to have wires, cop­per wires, going to the—or a radio link per­haps, a fixed radio link. These are the two alter­na­tives. And it was not imag­in­able at that time that it would be so easy to make— I don’t know it’s easy, but it has been done for a num­ber of years now, I’ve been using a mobile tele­phone and its Internet access for sev­er­al years now. 

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

Stanton: I don’t know whether it’s pie in the sky, but it would be nice to have some kind of stan­dards of truth­ful­ness and fair­ness in the use of the Internet, and to increase its cov­er­age around the world.

Further Reference

Internet Hall of Fame pro­file