- 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
- 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.
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.
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:
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)
Policy Including: Network Connection, Privacy, Appropriate use, Network
security, Globalization of Networks
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
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,
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
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.
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.
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.