Klaas Wierenga: Buenas noches. Good evening. I should start with an apology to my tennis team. In a few hours they’re going to play a competition match and I’m standing them up. I trust they understand why.
When I received the email that I was nominated, first of course I thought somebody was playing a nasty trick on me. But when I started to believe it was real, I went to the web site of the Hall of Fame and looked at previous inductees. I know a number of them. I know of a lot of them. But what struck me most was that there were so many people that I’ve worked with through the years and that are incredibly talented and that have done so much to advance the Internet that are not in that list. And I guess I’m very lucky that the people that nominated me and the advisory committee decided that I was worthy of this honor.
I think I’ve been lucky throughout my career, starting with Robert Janz at Groningen University. Later Hall of Famer Kees Neggers at SURFNet. Jane Butler at Cisco. And another Hall of Famer Erik Huizer first at SURFNet and now already for a few years at GÉANT. And I’m very grateful to have had the luck to work with them, being stimulated to look at new things, to always look for ways to improve the Internet.
I’m also standing here a little bit with mixed feelings, I have to say. I’m very proud of having had the idea of Eduroam. At the same time, I don’t consider myself as the one that contributed most to the advancement of Eduroam. There are many out there. And I’m going to mention a few names.
To start with, Paul Dekkers, who came as a student to me and asked if I had an idea for a graduation assignment. And he then built the first proof of concept and is still around, almost twenty years later and very much involved and actually the current chair of the global Eduroam conference committee.
There is Licia Florio, who was at the time TERENA, now GÉANT, and who did a lot to bring Eduroam outside the Netherlands and to the rest of Europe. Later on she took one for the team and agreed to marry me, and she’s the mother of our our daughter Lara.
Miroslav Milinović, who turned Eduroam from a plaything for nerds into a true service that can really be used by students all over the world.
And last but not least, Stefan Winter who is the technical man behind all the Eduroam development in the past ten years or so and who has contributed tremendously to making sure that Eduroam was fit for purpose.
But as I said, it is the work of many many, by now thousands of people. And I think that is for me the most important thing and that’s what I’m most proud of. That is that there is no central authority. There’s no central institution that made this happen across the world. This is really, truly a grassroots thing where people all over the world decided to make their own resource, their own network, available and throw it in the big pool for the greater good of all. And I think that is something that I’m very proud of. I think it is something that the R&E community is still very good at. Not so much competition but more collaboration. And I think the Internet needs a lot more of that, especially in these times where governments make it a habit to spy on foreigners and their own people.
If I can make one wish for the future, then I think it is to those of you out there that have ideas to make the Internet just a little bit better, just a little bit safer, just a little bit more user-friendly, to go after it and do it. Don’t think about how big something may become. That’s usually not how it works—it was definitely not the way it worked for me. I was just trying to solve my own problem, and that I helped others with it was just very nice.
And if you are in the position to support somebody that comes to you with one of those at first glance small ideas, then please support them. Don’t ask immediately where the billion-dollar market is. Don’t immediately ask how that’s going to make you a lot of money or lots of patents or whatever. But try to help them, encourage them in trying things out, and make the Internet a better place. Thank you.
Internet Hall of Fame profile