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.