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Michael Stanton: "I am grateful and very happy for the recognition of the Hall of Fame"

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The new member of the Internet Hall of Fame is an "old friend" of RedCLARA. Michael Stanton has been linked to the Latin American network since its creation, and his role in the development of it has been evidenced during the ALICE, ALICE2, ELLA and BELLA projects. His collaborative spirit is recognized by everyone who has been part of the formation, maintenance and growth of the regional network. Husband, father, grandfather, friend, teacher and network expert are some of the words that define him, and his recent addition to the Internet Hall of Fame is, for those who know him, a well-deserved award for his brilliant contribution and trajectory. In this interview, Stanton reviews his career, comments on the projects in which he is currently involved and leaves a message for young people who want to make history on the Internet, just as he has done.

Hello Michael! Congratulations for integrating the Internet Hall of Fame. When and how did you receive the news and how do you feel about the achievement?

Thank you very much! It was on May 29, 2019, when I received an email sent by the Internet Society (ISOC) to inform me about the awards that would be held on September 27 in San José, Costa Rica. I am grateful and very happy for the recognition of the Hall of Fame.

Can you highlight some special moment of your career?

The quote mentions my role in provoking, in 1987, a broad and national discussion about the creation of an academic network in Brazil. This network would be linked to those of other countries, to allow access and exchange of information and collaboration with colleagues in other institutions in Brazil and abroad. In 1989, the National Research Network (RNP) project was created by CNPq, which articulated and launched the first national academic network in the country, integrated with similar networks abroad. From 1990 to 1993 I was coordinator of the research and development (R&D) project and advocate for the adoption of Internet technology (TCP / IP). In 1999, RNP became a non-profit company, and later a Social Organization (SO). In 2002, my university (Fluminense Federal University - UFF) assigned me the responsibility of assuming the innovation council (later R&D) at RNP, a position I held until 2018. The main highlights of this period included the modernization of RNP networks, including the national network and its international connections, including with Latin America, and metropolitan networks. In addition, a cooperation program with teams of Brazilian universities was created to develop innovative improvements in the services provided by RNP.

How is RedCLARA related to this achievement?

Since 2002 I have been representing RNP in the improvement of RedCLARA's infrastructure in relation to the ALICE, ALICE2, ELLA and BELLA projects. In addition, I coordinated RedCLARA's Technical Committee from its creation in 2005 to 2009. The Hall of Fame event also mentioned contributions to Latin America.

How do you analyze the present and the future of the Internet? Has it become exactly what your generation predicted? And what do you see as stronger trends, as well as challenges and opportunities for the future?

From the point of view of the academic community, I believe that it meets the original expectations very well, in terms of allowing remote collaboration, access to remote resources and the transport of high-performance information. At the beginning of academic networks, we only think of our community. What happened next was that this knowledge was transferred to society, through our students and the other groups of society in general that follow what happens in universities: government, communication, companies (especially technology). Two years after the launch of the RNP network in 1992, Brazil was ready to participate, which resulted in the emergence of commercial Internet service providers in 1995. Almost 25 years later, Brazil became one of the most connected countries in the world. Of course, not all major changes like this occur without pain, but at first the benefit is very positive.

What work fronts are you involved in today?

I stopped being an R&D director in 2018 and RNP created the new “Network Scientist” position, without executive responsibilities. I also continue on some other fronts, linked to the insertion of RNP in international networks and the use of subfluvial connections in South America.

What can you tell us about the BELLA program? How do you think it will impact the Internet and those involved in it?

The current connectivity pattern between Brazil (and the rest of Latin America) and the rest of the world, was defined by the construction of three new generation submarine cable systems, around the year 2000, restricting the passage of all traffic to the rest of the world throughout the United States. The BELLA project is part of a broader initiative to boost the construction and operation of a new submarine cable that directly connects Europe and South America through the acquisition of a new international academic connectivity on this route. The grant comes from governments that see a good opportunity to meet the needs of academic users over the next 20 years or so, and they transfer these resources to the academic networks involved. These investments allow EllaLink to be building a new cable between Portugal and Brazil, which should be ready for use by the end of 2020. This cable also has non-academic users, as well as the recent participation of a major European telecommunications company. The benefit for all its users will be easier access to associations in Europe, as well as shorter routes to a large number of countries in Africa and much of Asia.

There are many young men and women who are now beginning their career in Internet development. What message would you leave for them? Any advice to achieve what you have already achieved?

The world of computing and its uses changed irreversibly when it joined communication between computers, which today includes any qualified equipment, starting with "smartphones." Of course, many of them do not require great technical knowledge to use. Now we can make the most of them by knowing how to use common applications in computer environments, and even more, by being able to develop new applications and / or databases, or by putting "intelligence" on "dumb" computers. There is a wide range of training in all these areas, and for whom this type of knowledge is of interest, it is worth learning about alternatives. Knowing more about how it is and how to use the Internet is part of this learning.