Steve Huter: Thank you to the Internet Society and to the Hong Kong ISOC chap­ter for host­ing this event. And to those who nom­i­nat­ed me for this hon­or today. I grate­ful­ly accept it as direc­tor and leader of the Network Startup Resource Center, though I think this nom­i­na­tion should right­ful­ly go to the body as a group, NSRC, rec­og­niz­ing many oth­ers that have con­tributed to this work.

I came along in the ear­ly 1990s to join the Internet devel­op­ment com­mu­ni­ty, at a time when this work was cul­ti­vat­ed by a mix of acad­e­mia, gov­ern­ment, and indus­try. And it was real­ly start­ing to flour­ish, and the growth of the Net was start­ing to explode at that point with two to three new coun­tries join­ing you know, every every month or two with their full TCP/IP con­nec­tions.

I met Randy Bush in Portland, Oregon in 1993, where he was con­nect­ing a num­ber of coun­tries around the world using FidoNet, UUCPs, inter­mit­tent dialup IP links, satel­lite IP links. All kinds of stepping-stone arrange­ments that con­nect­ed Peru, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Belize, Lebanon, Guinea, Saudi Arabia, all were con­nect­ing through Oregon, through this work Randy had been doing. And oth­ers, that were real­ly designed to help com­put­er sci­en­tists and net­work engi­neers in those coun­tries pro­vide Internet access and ser­vices to their com­mu­ni­ties.

So I was real­ly intrigued by the work of the NSRC, and one of my first assign­ments was to do a glob­al sur­vey of the var­i­ous con­nec­tions and the types that exist­ed in Asia, Pacific, Latin America/Caribbean, Africa and the Middle East, to try and inform the United States National Science Foundation where new links were emerg­ing, and pos­si­bly could be use­ful for inter­na­tion­al sci­ence and edu­ca­tion­al col­lab­o­ra­tions.

And there were also lots of NGOs around at this time that were among the first user com­mu­ni­ties, tak­ing advan­tage of Internet com­mu­ni­ca­tions to enhance their work on health, edu­ca­tion, eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment, human rights advo­ca­cy. And we always try to team up with these groups, these orgs, so they could use the Internet to enhance their work more effec­tive­ly.

What inspires me the most, you know, I think about the work that I do, and what I enjoy most about the work that I do is the peo­ple. I’ve been so for­tu­nate to work with lit­er­al­ly thou­sands of amaz­ing peo­ple in more than a hun­dred coun­tries from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. And I think the social engi­neer­ing that’s required for start­ing new net­works is a real­ly impor­tant aspect of the Internet devel­op­ment and it’s often how these things get start­ed. And then ulti­mate­ly, to build sus­tain­able net­works you’ve got to have local hands cul­ti­vat­ing local exper­tise. Hence our effort on so much train­ing and capacity-building with many of the peo­ple in this room in var­i­ous places around the world.

I think I’m always hap­pi­est you know, when we’ve com­plet­ed some chal­leng­ing work in the field. The net­works are hap­pi­ly mov­ing more IP pack­ets to more peo­ple. And then my friends in the coun­try invite me and the NSRC team to their homes for din­ner. And we meet their fam­i­lies and enjoy some fun times togeth­er. And those are the real­ly mean­ing­ful mem­o­ries that I cher­ish in this work.

Open archi­tec­ture net­work­ing is real­ly what makes the Internet the Internet. And every new node on the net has the poten­tial to be a peer. And I mean that in the phys­i­cal sense of peer­ing and exchang­ing data and con­tent, but more impor­tant­ly in the human sense of being your peer, your col­lab­o­ra­tor, your friend. And it’s impor­tant that we respect all nodes and all peo­ple who are part of the Internet com­mu­ni­ty sys­tem. Who knows where the next big thing on the net will come from?

Thanks to my fam­i­ly, to my col­leagues at University of Oregon, and to all who sup­port me and the NSRC in our Internet devel­op­ment ven­tures to light up more places and con­nect more places around the world. Thank you.


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