Dalla conferenza INET91 alla conferenza INET92 di Kobe
From the INET91 to INET92 conference in Kobe
Stefano Trumpy
  • On the occasion of the first International NETworking conference held in Copenhagen in 1991, the CNR-CNUCE in Pisa, which later became one of the Founding Organizational Members of ISOC, organized, with the financial support of IBM, a Workshop for developing countries.
  • The aim was to explain to those invited the terms used to define network services and their problem areas, and to address the topic "How to build a network from scratch".
  • The group invited by CNR-CNUCE to the Workshop also participated at the INET91 conference (17 - 20 June) which included the session "Third world issues". On the final day of the conference, there was a round table to conclude: "Building or improving academic and research networks in developing countries".
  • The idea of organizing this workshop came to my friend Enzo Puliatti and me, as we worked on the United Nations Development Program. Steve Wolff, director for the networking division at the US government National Science Foundation, encouraged us to pursue the idea.
  • At the time the CNR, through CNUCE, was negotiating with UNESCO a project to introduce the first nodes of Internet networks to 15 African countries, partly funded by the Italian government; the project began the next year, with the name RINAF (Regional Informatics Network for Africa).
  • Our Workshop for developing countries in Copenhagen included delegates from Tanzania, Ghana, Zambia, Cameroon, Nigeria, Zimbabwe and from UNESCO, representing Africa, and from Turkey, Santo Domingo, Ecuador, Coast Rica, Bolivia, Argentina, Nicaragua and the United Nations representing other regions.
  • These activities supporting developing countries was one of the substantial contributions made by the CNR, through CNUCE, in the early stages of ISOC. During the conference in Copenhagen (INET91) the formation of the Internet Society was announced. Together with me from CNR-CNUCE there were Laura Abba, Stefano Giordano and Marco Sommani.
  • A few months afterwards, in December 1991, the Internet Society was founded and a charter was drawn up by CNRI (Corporation for National Research Initiatives), EDUCOM for North America and RARE (Réseaux Associées pour la Recherchee Européenne) for Europe. The Internet Society was hosted by CNRI until the end of the following year. On 22 October 1991, Larry Landweber, following the announcement of the constitution of the Internet Society, asked me to look for financiers in Europe for the second edition of INET, which was to be held in Kobe, Japan in June 1992. At that time INET conferences focused mainly on the research and academic environments; the European representatives were EARN, EUnet, Nordunet and RARE.
  • ISOC became operational early in 1992; for the 1992 conference it would need assistance from financiers in the various regions of the world while, from 1993, ISOC would be able to handle expenses directly. A total of 360 delegates participated at the Copenhagen conference and more were expected at Kobe, the overall budget estimated was 250K$.
  • The letter of invitation to INET92 included an attachment, "Internet Society - Membership Information": some key points were:
    • " The Internet Society is a professional membership organization that is being created to promote the evolution and growth of the Internet as a global research and education communications infrastructure.
    • " The society will operate as a non-profit organization for academic, educational charitable and scientific purposes.
    • " By 1991 the Internet has grown to include some 5000 networks in over two dozen countries serving over 500.000 host computer used by 3 million people.
  • Financing for the European contribution to the conference was provided by EARN and RARE, along with other research networks and a number of private sector players, including many Japanese.
  • I was a member of the Organizing Committee, representing developing countries, while representing European interests on the committee was my friend Frode Grisen, Chairman of EARN.
  • The Internet Society was already active at Kobe. Vint Cerf was appointed Chairman and Larry Landweber Vice-chairman, in recognition of the crucial role he played.
  • At the opening session Larry told us how INET was the successor to a series of informal invitation-only meetings begun 10 years earlier in London, focused on research and academic networks. CNR-CNUCE had attended those meetings from the prehistory of the net: Blasco Bonito, Laura Abba and Marco Sommani certainly remember them.
  • Vint Cerf, Chairman of ISOC, remarked that Larry probably would never have imagined, when he began those informal workshops, that they would lead to conferences like INET and the birth of the Internet Society; Vint said he hoped ISOC would extend its horizons beyond the world of research networks.
  • The programme at Kobe was rich and varied and was managed by a high level committee which was able to invite many speakers. Working on the committee was particularly interesting for me, especially because we assessed conference contents and discovered new topics for discussion. The time available was short and the group worked exclusively by email, for a month and a half.
  • It was the first time that an international workgroup communicated intensively by email. As the most active members came from Japan, North America and Europe, work continued practically round the clock; in the morning when I turned on my computer I found replies from Japan with comments on my input in the afternoon already updated by colleagues in North America. I saw for myself the power email had compared to traditional means of communication.
  • The sessions in the programme were:
    • World Regional Networks The first report from the region Africa/Middle East was: RINAF: A Network Interconnection Project of Academic Institution in Africa (Laura Abba, Stefano Giordano, Stefano Trumpy, CNR-CNUCE)
    • Network Policy Including: Network Connection, Privacy, Appropriate use, Network security, Globalization of Networks
    • Network applications Including: The role of national libraries, networks and social change, Entry level - low cost solutions, Network management, Computer supported collaborative work, Computer mediated Communications-based distance education
    • Network Technology Including: ATM from desktop to the wide area networks, Advanced networking technology & applications, network technologies the next generation, Network operation and management, addressing and flow control, multimedia.
    • Workshop for developing countries This workshop was organized under George Sadowski of New York University, who was and would be over the coming years one of the champions within ISOC for support and capacity building for developing countries. The workshop lasted for the entire day of 14 June, the day before the official opening of the conference. ISOC (i.e. George, Enzo Puliatti and I) handled invitations for representatives; Enzo and I drew up the programme.
    • Delegates came from Chile, Argentina, China, Czechoslovakia, Malawi, Peru, Botswana, Lesotho, Poland, Tunisia, Hungary, Algeria, Nigeria, Tanzania, Syria, Vietnam, Egypt, Nicaragua, Peru, Ecuador, Guatemala, Bolivia, Swaziland, Puerto Rico, Zambia, Iran, Kenya, Ethiopia, Senegal, Ghana, Mexico and South Africa.
  • CNR-CNUCE's mission at Kobe was demanding: the group included Laura Abba and Francesco Gennai, and other collaborators such as Stefano Giordano, future professor of Information Science at the faculty of engineering, university of Pisa and a member of the Board of the Italian chapter of the Internet Society. The conference proceedings when I reread them amazed me for the breadth and topicality of subjects discussed.
  • After INET92 the Internet Society began to operate totally autonomously and I was appointed Chair of the "ISOC Committee for Technologically Emerging Countries" to continue the work that was already bearing fruit in different developing countries.
Happy Birthday ISOC