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Jon Postel – INTERNET HALL of FAME PIONEER, Posthumous Recipient

Jon Postel – INTERNET HALL of FAME PIONEER, Posthumous Recipient


Jon Postel, who helped institutionalise the underpinnings of today’s Internet standards, processes and functions. And we are pleased that Jon’s nephew Ben Ceverny has joined us to accept the award on behalf of the Postel family. So please welcome Ben Ceverny. [APPLAUSE] Hello, thank you, this is incredibly humbling to be in this context here among so many of the people that not only are so instrumental to the construction of a system that, you know, I’m of generation now me and my peers are building Internet applications in Silicon Valley in the frothy Internet economy that exists there now and it’s just amazing to imagine that this group here is upstream in history from all of that, including my cousin Jon who for a long time I think we really thought of him as Gandalf in the family, we had very little idea what he actually did, but he was radiating this kind of a quiet, willful integrity, which I think really was the foundation of much of what happened in his sort of shepherding of many of these processes, and I feel like there might be at least one anecdote to share which is… he was always really very kind of casual in his approach to the family, he sort of explained what was happening to the family and he would always give me these dot matrix printed gift certificates to come and play Colossal Cave when I was a kid, I would go down to ISI, log in to the computer and play adventure games, and one year he asked me if it felt any different to be playing the game, and I said “No”, and he said well you’re sitting here in Marina Del Rey with me, but you’re playing the game at Stanford. To me that was a moment when I began to understand what this was all about, but from a kid’s perspective. The second anecdote was sitting around a table I think at Christmas time, when Jon had to leave the room to take a phone call, and came back and said it was the telecommunications minister of the Ukraine, who was calling to say that he would like a top level domain because the Soviet Union was dissolving…
[LAUGHTER] This was just kind of out of the blue for people who don’t really understand what Jon is doing down at ISI all the time, to realise that he’s in communication with these people, it’s what the Internet was becoming was this heartbeat of international communications that really was beginning to help structure these types of transformations like the Soviet Union’s dissolution, so there was a real powerful sense that that was underlying all that he was working on was a real awareness of what the effects of these tools were on people that was another real important… why he would be so interested in the RFCs, and why he’d be so interested in making sure that people understood what it was about, the idea of consensus and community building, which was now, you know I was part of the design team on Flickr, and Flickr is a community-based service for photos, but really what we had discovered, the whole idea of Web 2.0, is that it’s the social fabric that underlies the tools, that really make the tools viable, and I think that Jon really was the shepherd of the community, we talk about community building online as a set of users now, but the community that Jon built was the actual community that created the Internet in the first place, which was a very powerful… the idea that one would be able to negotiate the roiling waters of the politics and the technologies and things like that, to cook down all of these initiatives into things that people could all consume and understand and share with each other is a profound thing, so I’m… it was not until later in life that I was able to understand what Jon really represented and it’s such an amazing honour to have him in my family and it’s an amazing honour to represent him here with all of you. Thank you very much.

2 comments on “Jon Postel – INTERNET HALL of FAME PIONEER, Posthumous Recipient

  1. So proud to have represented Jon at his induction into the Hall of Fame. One correction, though: Although I thought of him and his siblings as aunts and uncles, Jon is my cousin, the son of my great aunt Lois Postel.

  2. this nerd is the USA's George Washington of Internet. my utmost respect for him.
    without VinCerf/Kahn there might be no internet as we know today, but without Postel there will never, ever be any internet.

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