CAUCE Executive Director Neil Schwartzman won the prestigious Mary Litynski award on June 08, 2011 for his contributions to Internet anti-abuse efforts, including the passage of Canada's Anti-Spam Law. Here is his acceptance speech.
This is not the first award I've received from the MAAWG community. A few years ago, at a meeting in Washington, D.C., I received an honorary doctorate when recognized me as Dr. Evil. At the past meeting, at Disney, you honored me with a t-shirt branding me as Grumpy, from the Seven Dwarves.
As much as I treasure those memories, this award is very special to me.
Mary Lytinski was a warm, helpful, friendly person. It is nice to see that MAAWG is applying these criteria when deciding a suitable winner of the award in her name.
Seeing Mary at the registration desk was our opening ritual three times a year, and her greeting — no matter how busy — told every attendee that this was going to be a good meeting. Mary's contribution to our community and our cause cannot be measured.
I can’t begin to express my gratitude for this award, named in honor of our old friend; I am profoundly humbled, particularly when we consider the roster of others in our community undeniably as deserving of recognition.
My contributions to the Internet community, like that of so many others, began as a volunteer. To some, that might be a puzzling thing, to do something without financial recompense. To others, most in this room, it is the most natural thing of all.
There are a number of reasons why I try to embody a spirit of volunteerism. For one, my mother volunteered her time throughout her life. She undoubtedly passed this aspect on to me.
When I got online in 1992, the net was largely non-commercial. There was no world wide web. It was all about text, and community spirit, and volunteered contributions. Even when employees of a commercial entity worked on standards or software, it was with humility and a sense of collaboration, of building the Internet together.
The commercialization of the net has brought with it some astounding, wonderful new technologies and contributions to our global society. I am able to write to my friend, one of the happiest people I’ve ever met, a peasant girl named Shandy, who lives in rural China, because she has a Hotmail account. A far-flung community was able to express our love and support for our friend and colleague J.D. Falk, by way of Facebook, and email, and AOL Instant Messaging. Perhaps most profoundly, an offshoot of Google, 23andme, allowed me to reconcile with my biological mother, sister and brother, this past weekend after 50 years.
These are the things that motivate me to voluntarily advocate for the anti-abuse community. Because along with all these commercial offerings, there is still a fundamental, precious human element, a drawing together of the global village that criminals, if we let them, would rend asunder. There is still real, honest human communication — that abusers sully. This human element is the magic intrinsic to the Internet, and something that must be protected. It isn’t just about email systems being spammed, and websites under ddos. It is what they represent — the people, the data, and the ability to communicate — that we strive to protect.
The DNA of the Internet, the vast majority of underlying technologies and protocols, were dreamt up and realized by volunteers. Grassroots, volunteer anti-abuse efforts such as my organization, CAUCE, many of the DNSBLs, discussion groups — all manner of efforts to stave off the wolves at the door, nearly all done on a voluntary basis or as a contribution to the community.
And then there’s MAAWG.
While most of us are paid to be here, involvement in MAAWG can take up a tremendous amount of time. It often encroaches into one’s personal life, or one’s ability to accomplish the balance of our paid work, in effect, MAAWG is very much run by people volunteering of their time, expertise and brilliance.
And so, I accept this award on behalf of all the volunteers past, present and future, my peers and my betters, with the hopes that our work is properly honouring the person for whom this award is named, our dear departed Mary Litynski.