A Chat with Steve Crocker
Steve Crocker is an Internet Pioneer. Steve organized the Network Working Group (the predecessor of the IETF) and is responsible for the Request for Comments (RFC) series (he is the author of RFC 1). He was the first IETF security area director, the first ICANN SSAC (Security and Stability Advisory Committee) Chair, a board member of the Internet Society, and much, much more. He is currently the CEO and co-founder of Shinkuro and Chair of the ICANN Board. Despite the recent transition in management at ICANN, which has certainly swallowed much of his time, I got a chance to ask Steve some questions and can now share his responses here with you:
dp: How do you describe the Internet to someone who has never experienced it?
SC: You mean there are people who haven’t experienced the Internet? Surely not!
dp: What was your first experience with a computer?
SC: IBM 650, the first commercially produced computer. It was on the campus of Northwestern University in early 1960 when I was 15.
dp: What was your first experience with the Internet?
SC: Concept: Summer 1968. Discussions about what the protocols should look like. (Some would argue this was only the Arpanet. From my point of view, the issues we dealt with were common across the Arpanet and Internet.)
Operationally: Fall 1969 as the first nodes were put in place.
dp: What was the first involvement you had with Internet policy development?
SC: Policy was implicitly interwoven in the technical work. I created the RFCs in 1969 and set forth their rules. See RFC 3. That turned out to have major policy implications.
dp: Can you describe how the IETF came to be?
SC: Today’s IETF is essentially a continuation and expansion of the early Network Working Group that was created in the 1968-69 time frame to provide an open forum to develop the protocols for the Arpanet.
dp: What has been, in your opinion, your most significant contribution to the Internet so far?
SC: I’m pleased the instincts we had toward openness — open architecture, open participation and open publication of RFCs — have paid off so well.
dp: What is your biggest regret (so far), wrt your involvement with the development of the Internet?
SC: Hmm… Well, we anticipated some of the security problems, including spam, but we didn’t have the tools or the focus to deal with them.
dp: You were recently inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame, can you describe that experience?
SC: A number of old friends I hadn’t seen for a while were there. It’s now more than forty years since we started the network, and we may not have a chance to get together like that again.
dp: How do you use the Internet today (favorite sites, applications, etc.)?
SC: The Internet is fully part of our daily life. No site is particularly special; the entire system is like air — it exists everywhere and it’s vital to our existence.
dp: Where do you see the Internet taking us in 10 years?
SC: Wherever we’ll be. (That’s not intended to be snippy. I don’t know where we’ll be, but I am sure the Internet will be intimately involved in getting us there.)
dp: What are you working on today?
SC: Deployment of DNSSEC throughout the Internet, and development of some tools to facilitate small group collaboration.
dp: What should folks just getting into Internet technology be focusing on?
SC: There are way too many options for me to choose from. Choose whatever looks interesting and you have an aptitude for.
dp: What should folks just getting into Internet policy be focusing on?
SC: Same answer. There are LOTS of Internet-related policy issues.
dp: Is there something out there that will dwarf the Internet with regard to its impact on society?
SC: Medical advances, particularly cure for cancer and combating viruses.
dp: Thanks Steve!