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.
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People are amazed at the growth of the Web, but the growth of the Internet, that was actually what happened from zero. So the things that you guys have done from this have been the way that we have learned.
Bob couldn’t make it today. And if he could teleport here—I mean that’s technology for the future—he would have been here this evening, but he continues to pursue his vision of improving connectivity among people, and communications environments that enable that.
I feel so undeserving, and as they say, them more you reward the undeserving the harder they will work in the future. So I have a lot of work cut out for me going ahead in the future.
When many of the people in this room were beginning to lay the groundwork for the network in the 60s, I was working as a political scientist and worrying about communications patterns and how those worked.
When I first started on the Internet in 1972, I joined Doug Engelbart’s group, Augmentation Research Center, and I didn’t know exactly what a network information center was but I thought we were going to be handling information in a very different way, and it was very addictive.
About 1988, I was running a regional development information system at the United Nations economic commission for Africa in Addis Ababa. It was based on exchange of information with nodes in virtually every African country, and it was to be based on satellites for the exchange of that information. Unfortunately the satellites weren’t there.
We mean well, but we also do good and we also do damage. Well-meaning Americans did something called the Leland Initiative, which broke networking in the indigenous networks in ten African countries and empowered the PTT monopolies.
In 1992…I had a plan. And that plan was to set up the first regional Internet registry, and in April 1993 to be done with the Internet and move on to the next interesting thing.