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International Borderless Young Thing

I’m going to date myself here, but when the Berlin Wall came down I was lucky enough to go over to Berlin and trade smokes through holes with the East German guards on the other side. I have a piece of the wall, a chunk of cement with paint on it, somewhere. CNN was disruptive new media, mobile phones cost $1400 and you could talk on them for $1/minute. The Internet was a curiosity for academic and government use; many mail servers were run as open relays and a good dialup modem would get you 14,000 bps. Networks were simpler too, for the most part you were either inside the building and on the network or you were not on the network. Work was both a place and a verb.

The British pop band Jesus Jones captured perfectly the zeitgeist of those days with the song “International Bright Young Thing” which I first heard in a friend’s apartment in Kyoto. The refrain “Right here, right now, there’s no other place I would rather be,” seemed so perfect, so right.

Fast forward way too many years, Berlin and Kyoto are distant, blurred, neon memories, but I just watched International Bright Young Thing on YouTube to get in the right mood. I am at home in San Jose but my laptop is connected via Cisco AnyConnect back to the company network. I am using my home cable modem connection, but the AnyConnect VPN ensures my data is safe so that creeps with Firesheep don’t hack my Facebook account.

Times have changed. The one world united vision seems touchingly naive, and CNN is not the cutting edge realtime revolution that it once used to be. Last month, I received news about the North Korean artillery attack via Twitter on my Android smartphone several minutes before it was picked up by CNN.

You used to be at home or at work, but now work is something that you do, not a place. Thus I am on my sofa at home, feet up on the coffee table, blogging away. We will have TSA Freedom Pats to deal with when we travel this holiday season in the US, but while countries still have borders at least the networks are borderless.

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