This is incred­i­bly hum­bling, to be in this con­text here among so many of the peo­ple that not only are so instru­men­tal to the con­struc­tion of a sys­tem that, you know— I’m of a gen­er­a­tion that now me and my peers are build­ing Internet appli­ca­tions in Silicon Valley in the sort of frothy Internet econ­o­my that exists there now. And it’s just amaz­ing to imag­ine that this group here is sort of upstream in his­to­ry from all of that. Including my cousin Jon, who for a long time I think we real­ly thought of him as sort of the Gandalf in the fam­i­ly. We had real­ly very lit­tle idea what he actu­al­ly did, but he was radi­at­ing kind of a qui­et, will­ful integri­ty which I think real­ly was the foun­da­tion of much of what hap­pened in his kind of shep­herd­ing of many of these process­es.

And I feel like there might be at least one anec­dote to share, which is that well, he was…always real­ly very kind of casu­al in his approach to how he sort of explained what was hap­pen­ing to the fam­i­ly. And he would always give me these dot-matrix print­ed gift cer­tifi­cates to come and play Colossal Cave. When I was a kid, I would go down to ISI, log into the com­put­er and play adven­ture games. And one year, he asked me if it felt any dif­fer­ent to be play­ing the game, and I said no. And he said, Well you know, you’re sit­ting here in Marina del Rey with me, but you’re play­ing the game at Stanford.” And so that was to me sort of a moment where I began to under­stand what this was all about. You know, from a kid’s per­spec­tive.

But then a sec­ond anec­dote was sit­ting around I think a table at Christmas time, when Jon had to leave the room to take a phone call, and he came back and said that it was the telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions min­is­ter of the Ukraine who was call­ing to say that he would like a top-level domain because the Soviet Union was dis­solv­ing. And you know, this is just kind of out of the blue for peo­ple that don’t real­ly under­stand what Jon is doing down at ISI all the time, to real­ize that he’s in com­mu­ni­ca­tion with these peo­ple that sort of— You know, it’s what the Internet, was becom­ing was this heart­beat of inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ca­tions that real­ly was begin­ning to help struc­ture these types of trans­for­ma­tions like the Soviet Union’s dis­so­lu­tion. So there was a real pow­er­ful sense that that was sort of under­ly­ing all that he was work­ing on, was a real aware­ness of what the effects of these tools were on peo­ple.

I think that was anoth­er real important—why he would be so inter­est­ed in the RFCs, and why he’d be so inter­est­ed in mak­ing sure that peo­ple under­stood what it was about. The idea of con­sen­sus and community-building, which is now— You know, I was part of the design team on Flickr. And Flickr is a community-based ser­vice for pho­tos, but real­ly what we had dis­cov­ered, the whole idea of Web 2.0” is that it’s the social fab­ric that under­lies the tools that real­ly make the tools viable. And I think that Jon real­ly was the shep­herd of the com­mu­ni­ty.

You know, we talk about community-building” online as a set of users now, but the com­mu­ni­ty that Jon built was the actu­al com­mu­ni­ty that cre­at­ed the Internet in the first place, which is a very pow­er­ful— I mean, the idea that one could sort of be able to nego­ti­ate the roil­ing sort of waters of the pol­i­tics and the tech­nolo­gies and things like that to cook down all of these ini­tia­tives into things that peo­ple could all kind of con­sume and under­stand and share with each oth­er, is a pro­found thing. So it was not until lat­er in life that I sort of began to under­stand what Jon real­ly rep­re­sent­ed, and it’s just such an amaz­ing hon­or to have him in my fam­i­ly. And it’s an amaz­ing hon­or to rep­re­sent him here with all of you. Thank you very much.

Help Support Open Transcripts

If you found this useful or interesting, please consider supporting the project monthly at Patreon or once via Cash App, or even just sharing the link. Thanks.