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About Internet Society

Nominations Open! Jonathan B. Postel Service Award 2020

Do you know someone who has made an outstanding contribution to Internet development?

Nominate them for this year’s Jonathan B. Postel Service Award!

Each year, the Internet Society presents the prestigious award to an individual or organization that, like Jon Postel, has made significant contributions to the technological development of the Internet.

The award commemorates Jon Postel’s extraordinary stewardship in the course of his 30-year career in networking.

The chosen candidate will be presented with a USD20,000 honorarium and the signature crystal engraved globe at a global conference with Internet technical leaders later this year.

Previous award winners include Steven Huter for fostering local Internet communities globally, Kimberly Claffy for her contribution to Internet measurement, Kanchana Kanchanasut for accelerating Internet development in Thailand, and Nii Quaynor for driving the spread of the Internet across Africa.

Special emphasis is placed on candidates who have supported and enabled others in addition to their own contributions.

Help us recognize the extraordinary people who have committed themselves to the technological development, growth, and strength of the Internet!

Submit a nomination!

Nomination period ends on 12 June 2020. For questions, email postel@isoc.org.


Image of Community Network Champions ©Atul Loke/Panos Pictures for the Internet Society.

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Technology

Alain Aina: 2019 Jonathan B. Postel Service Award Winner

Alain Aina has been a key player in the Internet in Africa. While the winner of this year’s Jonathan B. Postel Award has had support from organizations and others, his leadership in building technical communities has helped countless people to spread the Internet across Africa and the world.

As the chief technology officer of the West and Central Africa Research and Education Network (WACREN), Aina has been building a Regional Research and Education Network to interconnect National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) in the region and connect them to the global Research and Education Network. He wants the world to see the work of Africa’s premier researchers and carve out its spot in the academic world – in a way that would be impossible without the resources of this new network and community. He also contributes to AfricaConnect2, a project that supports the development of high-capacity networks for research and education across Africa, by building on existing networks in Eastern, Northern, and Southern Africa to connect to West and Central Africa​’s WACREN.

Aina fell into this work after graduating in the early 90s with a degree in electrical engineering and in the maintenance and analysis of computer systems. He was hired to be a technical seller for a company in the Togolese Republic, which had a branch in Benin, where he’s from. The owner of the company had recently returned home from the United States and was anxious about computing and internetworking. He noticed Aina’s talent and added him to the technical team, where he ended up building the first bulletin board systems (BBS) in the area.

“People used the modem to dial in, then people on the same server could talk to each other,” he said. “Then we decided to put in the first email gateway, connecting to someone in Accra and later in Montreal twice a day to drop mail and download mail. But the cost was so high, it was not sustainable. The delegation of the country-code TLD in 1996 changed the paradigm for the email service and we were proud to demonstrate the first local web server and intranet.”

By the mid-90s there wasn’t a lot of support for people working on Internet access and connection, but there was ever-growing interest and demand. This meant that Aina and his colleagues often worked around the clock to set up networks and services in communities, then trained the local population on how to use what they had made.

“The Internet became so popular that the demand was suddenly so high, and it was putting pressure on us,” he said.

It was about this time that Aina started collaborating with the Network Startup Resource Center (NSRC), where he now serves now as a part-time network engineer and trainer. He later launched the first full IP services in the Togolese Republic and then in other countries in West Africa.

“At that time, most of the world did not believe that Africa could have the Internet and play a role. When you’d go to places, you’d have to train people,” Aina said. “Training materials were rare. We were lucky to have some books and some knowledgeable friends far away. The people you trained only knew you, so if something broke they called you to fix it.”

Aina helped build large parts of the Internet ecosystem throughout Africa, setting up networks, contributing to the creation of the regional Internet registry and the network operator group, and building ccTLD registries. He also started a consulting firm and became active in the private sector.

He eventually started attending Internet Society network technology workshops and getting involved with the organization in other ways. From 2011 to 2014, he served as a trustee for the organization. Active in the Internet community, he’s also involved with ICANN, the African Network Information Centre (AFRINIC), the African Network Operators Group (AFNOG), and other organizations. He helped found AFNOG, where he’s been an instructor since 2000, and he is one of the founders of AFRINIC, where he’s served in several roles, including acting chief technology officer, acting chief executive officer, and director of research and innovation. Aina is a key technical resource for the DNS community, including Africa Top Level Domains Organization (AFTLD).

A big part of his life has been Internet related, but he feels there is still so much more to do for Africa.

Aina says he was both surprised and humbled to receive the Postel Award. “I feel happy, but perplexed. I asked myself, ‘what have I done that is so special to deserve this?’ But when you look back, you can see it. You can see all the hard work in a virgin and difficult context.”

“I hope this award will motivate those who see me as a model and are contributing to the long walk to the technological liberation.”


Image credit: Minzayar Oo courtesy IETF LLC

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About Internet Society

Nominations Open! Jonathan B. Postel Service Award 2019

We are pleased to announce that nominations for the 2019 Jonathan B. Postel Service Award are now open. Do you know someone who should be a recipient?

This annual award is presented to an individual or organization that has made outstanding contributions in service to the data communications community and places particular emphasis on those who have supported and enabled others.

Nominations are encouraged for individuals or teams of individuals from across the data communications industry around the world who are dedicated to the efforts of advancing the Internet for the benefit of everybody.

Past Postel award winners include Steven G. Huter for “his leadership and personal contributions at the Network Startup Resource Center that enabled countless others to develop the Internet in more than 120 countries,” kc claffy for her pioneering work on Internet measurement, Mahabir Pun for his key role in bringing the Internet to rural Nepal with the founding of the Nepal Wireless Networking Project, and Bob Braden and Joyce K. Reynolds for their stewardship of the RFC (Request for Comments) series.

The signature crystal globe and a USD 20,000 prize will be presented at the IETF 105 in Montreal, Canada (20-26 July 2019) to the chosen candidate.

Nominations can be made either by self nomination or by third party.

Please share this information with your networks. The deadline for nominations is 15 May 2019.

Learn more about Jonathan Postel, the award, past recipients, nomination procedures, and find the online submission forms!

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Technology

Steven G. Huter – The 2018 Jonathan B. Postel Service Award Winner

With so many moving parts to advancing Internet access and enabling communities to reach the rest of the world, the biggest key to success, according to this year’s Jonathan B. Postel Award winner, is listening.

Steven Huter listens. He says it’s his most important job. The Director for the Network Startup Resource Center (NSRC) and a Research Associate at the University of Oregon says before configuring community networks and setting Internet development goals, his organization has to make sure they are solving the right problems.

“Listening first to what local Internet developers request and desire in terms of assistance, based on their respective conditions and challenges, is vital for a successful outcome,” Huter says.

Only half the people in the world have Internet access, and the NSRC works on creating “a sustainable community of Internet-savvy engineers and local operators that can enable continuous progress in their countries to bring more affordable Internet access and better network performance for their respective communities.”

Essentially, they go to areas in need, help set up the hardware and digital necessities for Internet access, and train local operators and system workers to handle that network independently. And Huter has been an integral part of this process, not only through his technical prowess, but through his communication skills and devotion to others.

“Steve has grown this program dramatically over the period of his stewardship,” said Vint Cerf, former classmate of Jon Postel, and associate of Huter’s. “He’s made connections friends and admirers literally all over the world. And the people he’s trained have often ended up in very high up positions in communications and networks.”

The NSRC provides technical information, engineering assistance, training, donations of networking books, equipment, and other resources to indigenous scientists, engineers, and educators. They work with universities first and the advances slowly work their way into the private sector. It’s takes more than know-how; it takes charisma.

Cerf is known as one of the fathers of the Internet, and he says Huter brings personality to the industry in a way many can’t.

“Steve’s personal commitment to this role and his perspective—which is that the people he comes to help—are the most important part of the equation,” Cerf said. “He comes with a very humble attitude which gives enormous respect to the people he is helping.”

To date, the NSRC has facilitated more than 650 tons of network equipment and technical reference books to engineering and computer science departments, university libraries, non-governmental organizations, and networking training facilities in more than 120 countries in the world.

“The main objective is to build a community of network operators who help each other with exchanges of knowledge, technical skills, and local hands cultivating local expertise,” Huter says.

“I help glue together a core NSRC team at the University of Oregon with dozens of international contractors and volunteers based in many different countries to scale the work globally and enable continuous progress in all regions of the world.”

Adept in numerous languages, gracious, kind, and giving of his time and resources, his associate and ICANN chair Steve Crocker says that the award is truly deserved.

“I think it’s fantastic that he won this award. I’ve known him for quite some time, and I’ve been impressed with his unique combination of being technically very competent, having a multicultural background, and easily bridging gaps between several cultures,” Crocker said. “He’s just a decent human being. He enjoys the process and does it around the globe.”

And as more of the structural components are laid down, Huter is moving toward helping on other levels, too.

“I am interested in thinking beyond building core networks to how we can collectively make good use of new technologies,” Huter said. “By engaging the Internet’s technical wizards to help government agencies understand that they are positioned to improve the lives of their citizenry if they embrace the future and reshape government policies rather than put up obstacles, there is a lot good work we can do in the coming years.”

This award is given not just for prowess, but for selflessness, for putting others above yourself.

“A lot of people get awards for doing great things, but often the truly good guys get left in the shadows,” Crocker said. “This award is focused on bringing those people out of the shadows, so people who know Steve and the work he’s been doing will say that’s a great choice.”

Huter was acquainted with Postel, making the award mean even more.

“Jon Postel inspired me and many others by his dedication, persistence, awesome work ethic, and thoughtful style of leadership. I particularly enjoyed conversations with Jon about hiking in the mountains and enjoying the wonders of nature, so will gratefully accept this opportunity as a reminder to get out and enjoy more time with family and friends in his honor.”

Learn more about the Jonathan B. Postel Service Award and past winners.

Photo ©Stonehouse Photographic / Internet Society

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About Internet Society Events Technology

Nominations Open! Jonathan B. Postel Service Award 2018

We are pleased to announce that nominations for the 2018 Jonathan B. Postel Service Award are now open. Do you know someone who should be a recipient?

This annual award is presented to an individual or organization that has made outstanding contributions in service to the data communications community and places particular emphasis on those who have supported and enabled others.

Nominations are encouraged for individuals or teams of individuals from across the data communications industry around the world who are dedicated to the efforts of advancing the Internet for the benefit of everybody.

Past Postel award winners include kc claffy for her pioneering work on Internet measurement, Mahabir Pun for his key role in bringing the Internet to rural Nepal with the founding of the Nepal Wireless Networking Project, and Bob Braden and Joyce K. Reynolds for their stewardship of the RFC (Request for Comments) series.

The signature crystal globe and a USD 20,000 prize will be presented at the IETF 102 in Montreal, Canada (14 -20 July 2018) to the chosen candidate.

Nominations can be made either by self nomination or by third party: https://apps.internetsociety.org/form/postel-nominations

Please share this information with your networks. The deadline for nominations is 2 May 2018.

Learn more about Jonathan Postel, the award, past recipients, nomination procedures, and find the online submission forms!

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Technology

The story of kc claffy and measuring the Internet – 2017 Jonathan B. Postel Service Award winner

Appreciated by some, taken for granted by many, the Internet is understood by few who use it. Underneath the ability to communicate instantaneously with people across the globe, conduct major business transactions with a click of a button and have the latest news and entertainment at our fingertips lies a vast landscape of data, unfettered by regulation, and spurred by competitive growth.

kc claffy, this year’s Jonathan B. Postel Service Award winner, has been with the Internet from nearly its very beginnings. She’s watched its evolution from military project to government-funded point-to-point communication to its current iteration as a private sector behemoth.

claffy is one of the few brave scientists who measure the Internet. She’s leading the way to the future by opening our eyes to the layers of data beneath the surface along with the Center for Applied Internet Data Analysis (CAIDA), a group she founded in 1996.

“The work that we do isn’t easy to get funded because the Internet itself isn’t yet its own subject,” claffy said. “It’s even a struggle for the agencies to get funding, since infrastructure isn’t very sexy.”

Sexy or not, claffy has been measuring the Internet since the early 90s. The year she finished graduate school was the year the government decided to officially pull out of the Internet, which until that point had been a government funded project. It was 1994.

“That was the end of the data, so I started a corporation to try to have a place for Internet data sharing and data analysis, thinking maybe some people would want to share their numbers,” she said. “I was really interested in a field of science for the Internet when all the doors were closing. I wanted a clearinghouse for data.”

Two years later she wrote the CAIDA proposal, and now, more than 20 years after that, they’re still at it.

“Frankly, I did not think I would still be here,” claffy said. “We just cobble this together from grants. It’s so hard to keep the money going, even for one body let alone 15 bodies.”

Of course, as the Internet has grown and changed, so have CAIDA’s measurements and responsibilities.

“The first question is what do we have? What have we built?” claffy said. “We can’t answer that because the private sector took over, and they don’t want to give up that data due to the competitive landscape. Of course, with the Internet’s usage today, it’s really like providing water competitively, but back in the 90s, letting it go private was a reasonable decision.”

As the Internet grew and shifted its shape, the ways to measure, organize and regulate it have changed. In fact, there’s been very little of any of that. The Internet has been allowed to grow unmeasured and organically since the government relinquished control. Up to this point, this has been good for innovation and progress.

“The Internet is so good today because of the competition in the market,” claffy said. “This is really just a lab experiment that escaped a little early, and we knew there were going to be problems but thought we handle them when we get there. Now we’re there.”

Through it all, claffy is working toward mapping and measuring the data, most of which is currently splintered between companies and countries throughout the world. The past few decades of Internet development are miniscule when compared to where we are going, claffy said. With the Internet of Things, the proliferation of fake news and media messaging, national security threats, and privacy violations, these measurements will be of vital importance in the near future.

“I want to make the world safe for Internet science,” claffy said. “The American people need better data—to understand what the Internet is, how it’s connected, and how the data is being used.”

Jonathan B. Postel was one of claffy’s heroes throughout her life, and, as such, she says this award is one of the highlights of her career.

“He was kind of the social conscience of the place. He was all about integrity and honesty, so winning this award is a huge honor.”

As for what claffy wants to be best known for?

“I hope what I’m remembered for, I haven’t done yet.”

Find out more about Jonathan B. Postel Service Award and who are past winners


Image credit: Stonehouse Photographic / Internet Society

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Growing the Internet Open Internet Standards Technology

Deadline 3 May: Recognize an outstanding technologist

Do you know someone who has made an outstanding contribution to the development of the Internet?

We are pleased to announce that candidate nominations for the 2017 Jonathan B. Postel Service Award are open.

This annual award is presented to an individual or organization that has made outstanding contributions in service to data communications and places particular emphasis on those who have supported and enabled others.

Nominations are encouraged for individuals or teams of individuals from across the data communications industry around the world who are dedicated to the efforts of advancing the Internet for the benefit of everybody.

The award includes recognition at a global conference of the Internet’s technical leaders, as well as a signature crystal globe and a USD 20,000 prize.

Previous awardees include those who have wholeheartedly committed themselves to the technological development, growth and vitality of the Internet.

Nominations can be made either by self-nomination or by third party.

For more about Jonathan Postel, the award, nomination procedures, and online submission forms view our page about the award.

You can recognize someone you know who has made a special contribution by nominating them for this year’s Postel Award.

The deadline for nominations is 3 May 2017 so be sure to get yours in on time!


For more information about Jon Postel and this award, please view this video narrated by Vint Cerf:

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Technology

Deadline May 18 – Recognize someone who has made the Internet a better place

Do you know someone who has made an outstanding contribution to the global Internet? Perhaps they helped connect remote Nepalese villages with the global Internet, opening new possibilities for education and communications. Or perhaps they galvanized technologists to improve Internet access and capabilities throughout Africa. Or maybe they made extensive contributions to the development and administration of the Internet in its early days.

It is people like this who has who have made today’s Internet so remarkable.

Each year, the Internet Society’s Jonathan B. Postel Award recognizes individuals or organizations that have made sustained contributions to the Internet we all use. It is awarded every year (read about past winners), and includes recognition at a global conference of the Internet’s technical leaders, as well as an award of US$20,000 and a unique crystal presentation.

The award is named for Dr. Jonathan B. Postel, who provided extraordinary stewardship over the course of a 30 year career in networking. He served as the editor of the RFC series from its inception in 1969 until 1998. He served as the ARPANET “numbers Czar” and Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) over the same period of time. He was a founding member of the Internet Architecture Board and was the first individual member of the Internet Society, where he also served as a Trustee.

You can recognize someone you know who has made a special contribution by nominating them for this year’s Postel Award.

The deadline for nominations is 18 May 2016. More information and the online nominations form are available at the Postel Award website.


For more information about Jon Postel and this award, please view this video narrated by Vint Cerf: