Michael Roberts: Thank you. Like oth­ers I’m very hon­ored to be here. It’s a dis­tin­guished group. I had no expec­ta­tion of join­ing you. So it’s a great plea­sure to be here and I thank the Internet Society and I think my nom­i­na­tors, and express my appre­ci­a­tion for that.

My love affair with com­put­ing, which became after awhile a love affair with net­work­ing, began in the mid­dle 60s when I was a grad­u­ate stu­dent in busi­ness at Stanford. And some­one said, You know, there’s some­thing going on on the west side of cam­pus hav­ing to do with com­put­ers.”

And so I wan­dered over there and sort of poked around and there was an IBM 7090 and a Burroughs B5500 and some­body said, You know, you ought to take a pro­gram­ming course. It might be use­ful.”

Well it was cer­tain­ly inter­est­ing, I’m not sure how use­ful it was. But those were heady days. Fortran, John Bacchus was at the Almaden lab which was just down the road. And so there was sort of some­thing in the air about it that togeth­er— When I became sub­se­quent­ly involved with com­put­ing at Stanford, it just has car­ried for­ward and Stanford’s lead­ing posi­tion in com­put­ing con­tin­ues to this day and is based on an awful lot of tal­ent, and awful lot of ener­gy still. I cer­tain­ly owe a lot to the many peo­ple I worked with at Stanford.

One of the skill sets that I have brought to my career is an appre­ci­a­tion for team‐building, which is also in the aca­d­e­m­ic envi­ron­ment called col­lab­o­ra­tion. And inter­est­ing­ly enough, and I don’t say this in any neg­a­tive fash­ion. But if you ana­lyze a lit­tle bit about where did this mul­ti­stake­hold­er” term came from, you won’t find any of it in the ear­ly days of ICANN. When the ini­tial board and I put ICANN togeth­er and we had a set of bylaws and we set off to chase our tech­ni­cal coor­di­na­tion mis­sion, nobody talked about mul­ti­stake­hold­ers. In fact we talked about sup­port orga­ni­za­tions and oth­er sor­ta code words for try­ing to get peo­ple to pull togeth­er, was basi­cal­ly what it was all about.

So, real­ly if you parse mul­ti­stake­holderism you can find a trail back to aca­d­e­m­ic col­lab­o­ra­tion and many [indis­tinct]. I need to be brief because every­body has to have a chance to talk tonight. And many of you have already touched on impor­tant themes in your careers that are also impor­tant in my career.

One of the things I’d like to close with is to point out that many of us who go back awhile in the Internet have viewed our role as a nur­tur­ing role. There are quite a num­ber of peo­ple in this room that have played very promi­nent roles in nur­tur­ing the evo­lu­tion, growth, and devel­op­ment of the Internet. What’s going on right now I think is that we need to rec­og­nize that we’re mov­ing out of an era of nur­tur­ing. And I don’t want to be dis­mis­sive at all of the enor­mous val­ue of the efforts, the grass­roots efforts, that are being made around the world that are still in a nur­tur­ing stage.

But for those of us who are still work­ing in and deal­ing with the real­ly major chal­lenges about the future of of the Internet, we have to rec­og­nize that we’re mov­ing into an era of sus­tain­ing. Sustaining the Internet. And that requires that we look a lit­tle bit down inside our­selves and ask a ques­tion about well how did we get here? And that of course I could talk all evening and many of you could as well. But let me sug­gest to you that the val­ues that are ram­pant in this room, the val­ues that got us where we are, still have a util­i­ty to serve us in the future as we hand off the stew­ard­ship roles that we have had to our suc­ces­sors in lead­er­ship.

And some of these things you’ll rec­og­nize as com­ing out of an aca­d­e­m­ic envi­ron­ment and poten­tial­ly a non­prof­it envi­ron­ment. Many peo­ple are con­cerned that the prof­it motive is ruin­ing the Internet. I think we have to real­ly look at that as it’s dif­fer­ent strokes for dif­fer­ent folks. We absolute­ly could not have the Internet we have today with­out pri­vate invest­ment and pri­vate enter­prise. We couldn’t have the Internet we have today with­out the open and free Internet that we incu­bat­ed on uni­ver­si­ty cam­pus­es. We have to have both.

But to go back very briefly to the notion of val­ues. I’ve always thought as I get into the end­ing par­don and rather than the begin­ning part of my career that I’ve been aid­ed by the notion of a respect for learn­ing, and research, and schol­ar­ship. Parallel and relat­ed to that is the notion of an expec­ta­tion of intel­lec­tu­al rig­or and com­pe­tence in what we do. The world today has too many peo­ple who are tak­ing a free ride on the work of oth­ers and some­how or oth­er are get­ting away with not being very good at what they do. We can’t afford to have any of that in the Internet and in Internet lead­er­ship.

Thirdly, we real­ly need the same bias for action that got us where we are. We have Eric telling us he got cap­tured as a grad­u­ate stu­dent to do send­mail. There are par­al­lel sto­ries in the whole room. So we need to say to our­selves you know, after you’ve cov­ered the learn­ing part and the com­pe­tence part, go out and use it.

And final­ly, we have to con­tin­ue to love what we do, and have fun. Thank you.


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