An Oral History of the Internet Society’s Founding

This history was assembled from individual interviews conducted from April-June 2013 with the founders and many of the original Board members of the Internet Society. The goal was to recollect the early activities surrounding ISOC’s founding and, along with the document “Announcing the Internet Society” (excerpted throughout), to get a sense of the motivations that drove it.

“… an Internet Society is being formed to foster the voluntary interconnection of computer networks into a global research and development communications and information infrastructure. The Internet Society will not operate the Internet. Internet operation will continue to be a collaborative activity which the Society will seek to facilitate. The Society will provide assistance and support to groups and organizations involved in the use, operation, and evolution of the Internet. It will provide support for forums in which technical and operational questions can be discussed and provide mechanisms through which interested parties can be informed and educated about the Internet, its function, use, operation, and the interests of its constituents.”

“It will function as a professional society to facilitate, support, and promote the evolution and growth of the Internet as a global research communications infrastructure.”

— “Announcing the Internet Society” (1992) by Vint Cerf, Bob Kahn, and Lyman Chapin (adapted from Vint Cerf’s announcement at INET ’91 in Copenhagen)

Discussions about forming an Internet Society began around 1990 at the Corporation for National Research Initiatives (CNRI), which Bob Kahn had founded in 1986 and where, after Kahn, Vint Cerf had been employee number two.

VINT CERF (co-founder; first president): I had obtained a contract from NSF [National Science Foundation] for CNRI to run the IETF [Internet Engineering Task Force] Secretariat. This contract was being fulfilled by a man named Phil Gross who, at the time was the chairman of the IETF…Steve Wolff, who at that time was running the network part of CISE[NSF Directorate for Computer & Information Science & Engineering], said “We are not going to renew the contract because we see that the Internet is becoming of commercial importance”—which was true; three Internet services had started commercial operation in 1989, and they didn’t want to spend research money further on this more-or-less private sector activity. So this triggered in me a need for an alternative fundraising mechanism in order to pay for the Secretariat. So it was my conclusion that we should start a professional society, which we decided to call the Internet Society.

BOB KAHN (co-founder; Charter member representing CNRI): The original motivation for ISOC [Internet Society] was, I think, twofold: Number one, we were aware of the fact that there was an enormous amount of information being amassed about the Internet—whether in the form of RFCs [Request for Comments] or other kinds of documentation, standards, things that really needed to be preserved, we thought, and ISOC could perform kind of a long-term home for that; and, number two, the Internet was now going worldwide—remember, these were discussions taking place in the early 1990s, and most people didn’t know what the Internet was and how to connect to it—and we thought this would be a great means of outreach, to let people know what the Internet was and things that they needed to know about things going on in the standards process. We figured that ISOC would have access to all the documents that were coming out of the IETF. We created the [IETF] Secretariat at CNRI and we were running it at the time and we had no inkling, interest, or intention of doing anything but continuing to run it at that point in time but, [by] making things available to ISOC, ISOC could spread the word around. And once it was created, ISOC had offered to make available some funding—that it could reach out to its constituent membership, or companies that it knew of—but it actually provided the money from its own funds, I believe, for one year. It was just a small amount, a fractional offset of what the costs were. I think ISOC wanted to help and they did, briefly.

“The Internet Society will convene an annual meeting and will organize and facilitate workshops and symposia, jointly with other organizations where appropriate, on specific topics of interest to the Society membership. The annual meeting will address issues of global and regional importance to the evolution and growth of the Internet. In particular, future INET conferences will be incorporated into the Society’s annual meetings.”

—“Announcing the Internet Society” (1992) by Vint Cerf, Bob Kahn, and Lyman Chapin

In 1990, Lawrence Landweber decided to broaden the scope and attendance of the International Academic NetWorkshops (IANW) that he had founded in the 1980s (informally known as the “Landweber Workshops”); with Jun Murai and Frode Greisen (who would, with Landweber, serve on ISOC’s first Board), Landweber put together the first INET Conference, to be held in Copenhagen in June of 1991.

KAHN: There had been discussions, and sometime in the middle of 1991 there was an INET meeting in Copenhagen and we managed to get Larry Landweber, who was then running the INET conferences, to agree to fold in with the ISOC activity, so the INET conferences became an activity of ISOC after that—but it didn’t really happen until 1992 sometime…

CERF: We started planning [ISOC] in 1991…in June of 1991 we made the announcement that we would create the Internet Society beginning on January 1, 1992; I approached Larry Landweber, who had been running the [Landweber] workshops for some time prior to 1991 and asked him if he would be willing to make the INET a flagship conference for the Internet Society—again, patterning it after the ACM [Association for Computing Machinery], I believed that we should have at least one annual conference, and that it should have technical substance to it. He agreed readily…and was, I think, very delighted to know that it would have an institutional home (and, as you know, he subsequently became Chairman of the Board of ISOC for a period of time). And that’s why we chose to make the announcement at the INET ’91 meeting in Copenhagen.

FRODE GREISEN (original Board member): So [Larry Landweber and I] set up the INET conference and at the conference Vint Cerf took the microphone at the time and said he wanted to start something called the Internet Society and this was in June ’91. He said that, but as I recall we only got around to establish[ing] the Internet Society six, nine months later…so the conference came first and then came ISOC, and ISOC came with the idea to continue the conference but also do other things…

LAWRENCE LANDWEBER (original Board member): Here we were at this meeting and it was really kind of a fun and exciting time. Vint [Cerf] and Bob [Kahn] had been talking—I believe what they wanted to do was find some sort of corporate home for the IAB. I think they kind of liked what was happening at INET and they approached me at that point about whether I was willing to join up with ISOC and turn INET into the conference of the Internet Society. Of course I was willing, so they made me a vice president [and] put me on the Board. They also recruited a board…a lot of the leadership from around the world was on that…

We agreed to do the next meeting to start a regular conference.

GREISEN: Larry said, “Now we want one in Europe, and then we want one in Asia, and then the US.” It pretty soon came about that the next conference should be in Japan, in Kobe. Because we didn’t want the US to dominate.

“The initial organizers of the Internet Society include the Corporation for National Research Initiatives (CNRI), EDUCOM, and the Internet Activities Board. During the six month period from June to December 1991, the initial organizers will work with interested parties to prepare for beginning operation of the Society by the end of 1991. Computer networking has become a critical infrastructure for the research and development community and has the potential to become the basis for world-wide collaboration and cooperation in every field of human endeavor. The Internet Society will seek to solidify, enhance and encourage further international collaborative networking.”

—“Announcing the Internet Society” (1992) by Vint Cerf, Bob Kahn, and Lyman Chapin

After the announcement at INET ’91, work proceeded to establish the Internet Society, including putting in place a board of trustees. To the initial organizers mentioned in “Announcing the Internet Society,” the Réseaux Associés pour la Recherche Européenne (RARE; now TERENA) was soon added. CNRI, EDUCOM [now EDUCAUSE], and RARE would become Charter Members of the Internet Society, with what were—until 1996—permanent seats on the ISOC Board.

KAHN: When we set up ISOC, it was not formally incorporated until early December of 1992, but it sort of took shape and form as of January 1 of 1992, so for all of 1992 it was…in existence as an activity at CNRI… Once it was incorporated, [CNRI] then entered into documentation with them, since we were doing all of the background work anyway. We had a contract with ISOC at that point to actually provide the Secretariat for them; before that there was no paperwork, it was just an activity of ours.

MIKE ROBERTS (original Board member; Charter member following Ken King at EDUCOM): Vint [Cerf] and Bob [Kahn]…talked to Ken King and me at EDUCOM…and then they also talked to Kees Neggers in the Netherlands and the notion was that there would be a sort of a tripartite stool, in which one leg was in the ARPA academic community and the limited number of major industrial places that were firmly in the ARPA community, like BBN [Bolt, Beranek and Newman]; one leg would be in the general-purpose academic-research community, which was represented by us in the US; and one leg would be in the European research-networking community which had not coalesced to any particular extent (you could say we hadn’t either at that point). Those were conversations that started in, I think, the summer of ’89 and then it took a couple of years to pull everything together.

KAHN: The Internet at that point at time wasn’t a commercial activity in any way, shape, or form, so many of the parties that were involved were educational institutions—there were probably more .EDU sites on the ’net than probably anything else at that point. EDUCOM was sort of the representative organization that dealt with IP things for the educational community, so they seemed like the right group to represent that constituency, and RARE was part of the academic research activities in Europe, which seemed like a good representation. Juergen Harms was head of RARE at the time and he was all supportive of this, and Ken King was running EDUCOM at the time, and he was all supportive. It seemed like a reasonable group to give it some ballast.

GEOFF HUSTON (original Board member): [It] was certainly my impression that this was not just the folk who used TCP/IP [Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol—the Internet Protocol Suite] but it was really the folk who were involved in the international research networking community. I cite folk like [original Board member] Ira Fuchs who, at the time, was deeply involved with IBM sponsorship of BITNET, which was also an emerging global network; and also pulling in the folk who had done a lot of work with HECnet, which was an earlier DECnet network—so it wasn’t just one set of folk with a particular bent that was totally about IP, it really was trying to take that model of a diversity of efforts and putting them under a more general umbrella. So I always thought, at the time, of that first Board—which was, in my understanding, Vint looking for people who could assist him in this effort—really as a collection of folk from a much broader set of churches than just folk who had done exclusively work on IP.

JUERGEN HARMS (Charter member representing RARE): At this time the Internet was in its starting blocks and I had been very active with other colleagues in RARE, not so much to organize RARE but to get the academic Internet providers started in Europe, and at that time it was very evident that this should be a common effort all over the world—but also we had a hidden agenda in Europe, and that was what very often is termed “the protocol war”, so getting something like the Internet Society [seemed like a good idea to me]…academic, community-based network providers needed, at least at the start, money that came very willingly from the European Commission but the European Commission decided to mix a service provision and the choice of European technology into the same basket. So they insisted very much on using the [ISO; International Organization for Standardization] standards promoted by the European consular authorities, rather than the Internet…the committee I was in of RARE at that time decided that the creation of the Internet Society would be a tremendous agent to foster this common effort and I was more or less suggested to take over this activity. Service provisions pushed the motivation I had.

KEES NEGGERS (original Board member; Charter member following Juergen Harms at RARE): I was the one representing Europe in the ISOC Board of Trustees at the start. When the ISOC started, it started with three so-called charter members…EDUCOM, CNRI, and RARE. And from RARE, I was the Board of Trustees representative and we then appointed a first board.

HUSTON: In Australia, a researcher by the name of Torben Nielsen at the University of Hawaii put forth a proposal, which was picked up predominantly by NASA, to coordinate a number of Internet links across the Pacific, and I got involved in that through my work in Australia in setting up the Internet there. So I started attending some of these [Coordinating Committee for Intercontinental Research Networking; CCIRN] meetings; I think the first one I attended was in 1990, as I recall. At that time I met Vint Cerf, who was also at that point trying to set up the Internet Society. As I understand it, some of the major motivations were to create an organization that had a lot of similarities to the Association for Computing Machinery…So Vint was wandering around, attending a lot of these meetings, looking for folks from Europe and from Asia-Pacific who could assist him in setting up this society. And as I recall, the first Board…assembled itself in the INET meeting in Kobe in ’92.

KAHN: January 1 to [the] end of 1992, I was very involved in just about everything because we were trying to make it happen. I handled all of the legal stuff, the paperwork stuff—that was all my involvement. I had a very active involvement but at that point it was more at the managerial level—we had people on staff here at CNRI who were very involved with the IETF meetings and running that and that was completely independent of ISOC at that time. In fact, the reason that ISOC moved out of here was because of the government’s desire that the IETF be completely separate from ISOC, going forward.

ROBERTS: I was the startup executive director—I was essentially half-time at ISOC and half time at EDUCOM for about a year. I did things like budgets, financial planning, getting the board agendas pulled together, seeing that logistics for meetings were taken care of…Liz Barnhardt, who worked for me at EDUCOM [also] did a lot of work on that sort of thing.

“The Internet Society will publish an Internet Newsletter providing members with information about the international activities of Internet constituents.”

—“Announcing the Internet Society” (1992) by Vint Cerf, Bob Kahn, and Lyman Chapin

CERF: We patterned the Internet Society more or less around the ACM—we anticipated there would be chapters, and we allowed those to be set up; we expected to do publications, and our first one was a newsletter that [original Board member] Tony Rutkowski edited…we all hoped (I hoped, anyway) that we would actually have a professional publication, a journal, in addition to the more popular Internet Society publication; it didn’t materialize, although it would have been consistent with the ACM model of operation. Those were the things I hoped for and I would say that if I look at the Internet Society today it has more than fulfilled some of that and this is due not only to [ISOC President and CEO] Lynn St. Amour but also to the fact that a revenue stream supports the organization better than it did when I was running around with a tin cup.

“The Internet Activities Board (IAB) has been concerned with the development and evolution of architectures supporting the use of multiple protocols in a networked environment. The Internet Society will incorporate the IAB and its functions into the operation of the Internet Society. The Internet Society will work with other interested organizations to support and assist efforts to evolve the multiprotocol Internet. The Society will use the Internet Engineering and Research Task Forces to stimulate networking research and facilitate the evolution of the TCP/IP protocol suite and the integration of new protocol suites (e.g., OSI) into the Internet architecture. The Internet Society will work with parties and organizations interested in fostering improvement in the utility of the Internet for its constituent users.”

—“Announcing the Internet Society” (1992) by Vint Cerf, Bob Kahn, and Lyman Chapin

LYMAN CHAPIN (IAB Chair, July 1991-March 1993; ISOC founding Board member): As part of the founding of ISOC one of the initial-state conditions, if you will, was that the IAB [then, the Internet Activities Board] would become essentially part of the Internet Society–not subordinate to it in the sense of an organizational chart, but the IAB would become (and I think even then we were using the term) “an organized activity of the Internet Society”…so what we were writing in the days when we were putting all of this together, we were writing not only a charter for the Internet Society but also a new charter for what we were now going to call the Internet Architecture Board—so we were going to re-charter the IAB.

KAHN: [We had] discussions with members of the IAB and others as to what this would be and how it would relate to them and so forth.

HUSTON: At the time, the ARPA contracts were expiring and were not going to be renewed, and there was a certain amount of momentum, I think, to try and put the Internet and that program onto a more sustaining footing than constantly relying on US federal research budgets to maintain its infrastructure. And one of the motivations was to try and sort of create a self-sustaining framework that might have had ISOC at its center, and that would be the focal point for funding the IETF, funding a number of infrastructure activities, and so on. That was not the plan but certainly a part of the motivation.

CERF: The IAB was well aware of this and was very much in support of it; all of the IAB members became early members of the Internet Society, [with] Jon Postel in fact being the first to win the race to write a check. At that time the IETF was subordinate to the IAB and it was our assumption that everything would come along with the IAB into the Internet Society and that we would rename the Internet Activities Board the Internet Architecture Board—that was the plan.

CHAPIN: At the time, it was still considered that there was a sort of a hierarchical relationship: there was the IAB and then there was the IETF, and the IAB was supposed to sort of set the architectural framework for the things that the IETF would then pursue as various protocol-development or parameter-definition activities. I would say within a year after the initial founding of the Internet Society, that relationship evolved very quickly because It became obvious that once people began to look at the potential for there to be a top-down hierarchy—with the Internet Society at the top—the natural reaction of the folks who had been in engineering roles for a long time was to say, “Wait a minute, that just doesn’t look like the model we’ve had in mind all along; we’ve always had a bottom-up model in mind.” So it really changed from the IAB being the principle component, if you will, of the Internet Society that had to do with Internet standardization and became, instead, that the IETF was the organized activity of the Internet Society responsible for Internet standardization, and the IAB and the IESG [Internet Engineering Steering Group] were essentially bodies that existed at the pleasure of the IETF to provide a variety of useful functions…but the focus was shifted from the IAB, which was essentially a top-down thing that emerged from the program offices at DARPA (and then ARPA) [Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency; Advanced Research Projects Agency] and shifted away from that top-down model toward what you might call a more plebian model, in which the IETF and the engineers who actually worked on the protocols and so forth were in the position of deciding for themselves what the IAB and the IESG and all these other groups would and wouldn’t do on their behalf—it’s an inversion from top-down to bottom-up.

ROBERTS: It rapidly became the case that the core engineering focus was in the IETF. And the IETF—I don’t know that it was actively hostile to ISOC, but it was very aloof. The leadership of the IETF essentially had a guerrilla mentality because a lot of them came out of telecom environments, where what they wanted to do was not what their bosses wanted to do at all… So here’s ISOC, sort of intended originally to be in the Internet engineering mainstream but not there, and the Board was not an IETF-dominated board by any means, if you look at the membership of the early Board. Sure, there were senior IETF people on the Board but out of a dozen or so they’d maybe be one or two or three.

CHAPIN: One of the things we hoped to do with the Internet Society was to provide a home for that [IETF] activity, which was an unincorporated, informal group of engineers who all sort of got together in the same place at the same time and called themselves the IETF, starting in 1986…but they weren’t a company, they weren’t a standards body, they weren’t anything like that, so we wanted to bring those activities under some kind of umbrella that would at least give them some structure—more from a perception that nature abhors a vacuum and public policy and governance structures abhor a vacuum even more than nature does, so if we didn’t have some sort of a structure for it we were fairly certain that other folks would quickly find one, and we thought we’d rather be in a position to define it ourselves than have it defined for us…

The idea was very much not to add any more formalism than was necessary to prevent it from being overtaken by someone else’s idea of how it should be organized. So there was a very deliberate sense in which we used terms like “a home for it” as opposed to saying “a corporate structure for” or “an organizational structure for”… At the time it was considered to be a very sensitive issue because the engineers who were responsible for actually building the physical and protocol infrastructure of the Internet as it was growing felt very, very strongly that what they were doing was fundamentally different from the way in which traditional telecommunications standard development had been done in places like the CCITT [Comité Consultatif International Téléphonique et Télégraphique; now ITU-T, for Telecommunication Standardization Sector of the International Telecommunications Union]; they saw what they were doing as bottom-up, ground-up, of the people, for the people. It was very much an engineer-driven and meritocratic exercise. The CCITT model—which was government-driven, corporate-interest driven, profit-driven, monopoly driven—was the antithesis of what these folks were trying to do. It was very important to craft an envelope, if you will, for the activity [that] would shield it and would provide some of the unavoidable trappings of legitimacy but do so in a way that was compatible with the cultural preferences of the (primarily) engineering population of Internet activists at the time.

ROBERTS: For whatever reason…the IETF leadership was very loathe to become self-funding and self-organizing and become a corporation…there was certainly a sub-group within IETF that was actively engaged in fighting off all attempts at organization, and they had a little bit of rationale on their side when they said “As long as we’re not incorporated, there’s nothing to sue.”


The Society will be a non-profit organization and will be operated for international educational, charitable, and scientific purposes, among which are: To facilitate and support the technical evolution of the Internet as a research and education infrastructure and to stimulate involvement of the academic, scientific, and engineering communities (among others) in the evolution of the Internet. To educate the academic and scientific communities and the public concerning the technology, use, and application of the Internet. To promote scientific and educational applications of Internet technology for the benefit of educational institutions at all grade levels, industry, and the public at large. To provide a forum for exploration of new Internet applications and to foster collaboration among organizations in their operation and use of the Internet.

—“Announcing the Internet Society” (1992) by Vint Cerf, Bob Kahn, and Lyman Chapin

CERF: As I was trying to formulate “What is this Internet Society?”, keep in mind my principle purpose was to arrange for a vehicle for funding of the IETF Secretariat because I believed that continued development of the Internet and standardization was essential—so that was my first motivation. But I also believed that a society would emerge out of the Internet, and that there are two interpretations of what an “Internet Society” means: one of them is the entity that has members and chapters and dues and so on, and the other interpretation is the vast society that emerges out of the Internet. And we’ve seen that vast society now, emerging with all of its good and bad aspects. When the World Summit on the Information Society got started in 2003, the very first thing they said to themselves was, “What’s an information society?” and everyone pointed to the Internet. So I believed that both of those interpretations would be relevant, which led me to believe that the Internet Society should be helping not only with the technical evolution of the Internet through the IAB and the IETF, but also to the societal understanding of the Internet and somehow coping with the issues that were bound to arise as this penetrated more deeply into all of the world’s population. So I was motivated to have a technical component and a support component and a professional component.

CHAPIN: In 1991 it was still the case that when Vint [Cerf] or I or any of the folks interested in the Internet—what we were only just really starting to call the Internet at that point—when we would go around and talk to people we would typically be proselytizing. We would be talking about how great this new thing was—you know, the opportunities for building all sorts of interesting applications that would run on it—because at that point it was still a brand new thing, and it’s hard to imagine when you look at its ubiquity today, but of course not a lot of people were all that familiar with it. And so one of the reasons that we started talking about an Internet Society was to broaden the base of awareness and interest and participation beyond the academics and technology folks that were the core original people who were involved in this. It was seen as a way to extend the franchise of interest and involvement in the evolution of the Internet outside of this core group—very much a like-minded core group—to a much broader audience of people who were beginning to feel some of the effects of the proliferation of Internet access but who hadn’t really heard much about it yet at that point. It was still a very brand-new thing. When I look at some of the slides I used to use it’s amazing—you know, you just think about how much time has passed because now if you walked into a room and said, “I’d like to tell you about this great thing called the Internet” people would look at you like you were Rip Van Winkle.

KAHN: The most important thing that we thought ISOC could do was to play the outreach role and make it clear to people around the world what the Internet was, in terms of educational material, seminars, workshops—things that would illuminate things. And none of that was really happening [before ISOC].

ROBERTS: [ISOC’s role] was being a missionary for connectionless, design-oriented networks, as a religion.

LANDWEBER: We always wanted ISOC to be a focal point for issues involving the Internet whether they be policy or standards—there was nothing else [out there yet], and we were trying to position it that way…We were trying to position it as being in the center of things. Unfortunately we didn’t have the resources to really be out there—so we could assert but we could not act.

HUSTON: I remember that at the time we had a number of extended Board meetings and we were grappling with a lot of these ideas as to what exactly was our role. I remember the analogies with the health environment: Were we the association of doctors? Were we the association of health workers? Were we the patients’ association? You know—what was our relationship with the emerging facets of this? And certainly our corporate funding had a lot to do with the emerging ISP [Internet Service Provider] market and, of course, the vendors and suppliers to that market, and corporate funding was deeply embedded with suppliers to the market, but at the same time we spent a lot of time promoting individual membership, which was really a relationship with end users—again, it sort of led to these deep questions about “What should we be doing and how should we be doing it?” And yes, the IETF was critical in that role but at the same time the IETF was flexing its own, internal talent and muscles, self-selecting its own leadership…which really left ISOC sort of wondering at the time what it was doing and why.

NEGGERS: [I saw ISOC’s mission as] one, to secure a healthy evolution [of the Internet]—that is, of course, the most important and most general statement. There are two dimensions of course—first a technical one, to create sound standards for the Internet, and secondly to make it global. These were the two major things.

HARMS: I understood the motivations [of the Internet Society, at its founding] as being very mixed—slightly emotional, slightly enthusiast. One was very evidently to have an activity as a learned society, organizing congresses and getting people together. Another one very clearly was addressing the issue of where to enter the formal activities in the legal sense, which means very many people—and that’s where I disagreed—wanted to push the creation of an Internet space of law where the Internet would self-regulate. I was convinced that that would be nice but we would never get this through. Another issue was there were very many common standardizing activities and the Internet Society very clearly had a place in making a framework for these activities, which then turned out to be run by very strong people who did not want to be put into a framework.

HUSTON: For me, as an Australian, this was a very, very different world. We live in a small, tucked-away corner of the world and we’re not normally participants in the current affair, we’re normally consumers of the results of the current affair, whatever that may be. We weren’t the inventors in any part of telephony—we just took the technologies and deployed them. Having the opportunity to participate in cutting the technology and, surprisingly, being invited by a very open American research community to have ourselves—and myself individually—go to these meetings and play a role was incredibly exciting. This was entirely different to, I think, our conventional expectations that other people did that work and we merely consumed the result. So in that respect it was deeply different and very exciting. My own expectations for ISOC were a little bit harder to define. I never really understood, I think, the subtleties of agency funding, the roles of DARPA, CNRI, the NSF and exactly what was going on there in terms of the vision and view of those agencies going into the future. I’m not even sure the agencies knew. And part of the role with ISOC was to some extent evangelizing and promoting and talking through this issue that the Internet wasn’t really an experiment—it really was there. I don’t think I had any particular answers and I think I, like many of the Trustees at the time on the Board, [we] were constantly soul searching as to what our role was…it was a difficult question at that point.

CHAPIN: I very much wanted to see it represent the interests of people whose lives were going to be affected by the Internet. We already had good ways to organize the efforts and interests of people who were primarily engineers and academics—people for whom all of this technology and so forth was interesting for its own sake. And what we didn’t have was a way to formalize…the impact that all of this was going to have on a huge population of people who were not academics or engineers and who couldn’t really care less about the protocols but who would benefit from a concept that has been, in my mind, central to this entire enterprise right from Day One, which is that access to information is the surest defense against tyranny. And that concept, the idea that you can give people access to information—it’s probably the most important thing you can do to prevent tyrannical regimes from manipulating populations. And in order to achieve anything like that, we had to go outside the orbit of engineers and so forth, and insiders, and come up with something that could represent the interests of a much broader population of people who were going to, ideally, benefit from this new way of borderless information sharing.

Read ‘Announcing The Internet Society’