Ian Peter is known for different achievements among different communities. To much of the technical community, he was the founder of Pegasus Networks – the first public Internet service in Australia.
But it was his concerns for the environment and fostering social change that set him on a path towards the Internet, and from the beginning of that path it was clear that in all these pursuits, he was ahead of the curve.
In 2022, it would be somewhat cutting edge to establish an ISP out of a van equipped with solar panels and a mobile phone connection.
Ian managed it with Pegasus Networks in 1989.
And it wasn’t simply to show that he could – the van was parked in rainforest around Terania Creek, which was facing the threat of logging. Ian had been working with the local Rainforest Information Center (RIC) in their defence of that pristine natural environment. By that point, the RIC had been using email for four years already, and Ian had well and truly seen the potential of the Internet in uniting groups dedicated to social change all over the world.
To this end, in 1990, he became a founding director of the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) which was dedicated to precisely this cause. By 1992, the APC computer network had users in 72 countries, which was more than the Internet at that time.
Ian would go on to many more pursuits – he was active in both academia and Internet governance. He was a co-coordinator of the international Internet Governance Caucus and the first Chair of the Civil Society Coordination Group. He advised governments on Internet policy, and even served as IT consultant for science TV program Hot Chips. Naturally, that TV show would be among the very first in the world to have its own website.
He practically wrote the book on the Internet, but of course, for Ian it was a website. He guest lectured for the Diplo Foundation on numerous issues at the intersection of technology and social justice.
He was a mentor and an inspiration for many people and organizations working on issues related to technology and the environment, and we are honoured to be offering the Ian Peter Grants for the Internet and Environment to honour his legacy and in the spirit of his enduring commitment to the Internet and the good it can do. The grants are designed to support:
- Indigenous and grassroots organizations working on environmental issues to enhance their work through increased Internet availability.
- Hardware and software development, and/or deployment to understand and address the environmental impact of Internet infrastructure.
- Projects involving research that supports policy development around Internet technologies and climate change.