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What was life like before all these 1′s and 0′s…

July 8, 2005 at 12:00 pm PST

I was talking to my wife the other day about sending her dad some information and she said she would send it in the body of an e-mail rather than as an attachment. “He’s not the best at opening and reading attachments, but he can do e-mail like no other,” she said. I asked her when he retired to get a sense of his overall “IT quotient” and she said it was just as his company was beginning to use internal e-mail, so well before the IT explosion and ubiquitous connectivity and anytime, anywhere access to info, info, info, info, info…

I started using e-mail when I was working in the U.S. Senate in 1994. It was just internal and generally I could only communicate with the other staff on the committee that I worked for. By the time I left the Senate in 1995, we could communicate with other Senate offices and other Senate committees which we all thought was the biggest piece of magic imaginable. Now, with blackberry’s, Treo’s, IP phones, digital cameras, blogs, personal websites, etc. -- it’s as if there is no end in sight for all those 1′s and 0′s. Some think that all this online communication makes life more impersonal…I would argue it makes it much more personal. Let me explain.

I’m not a phone person. I prefer e-mail to voicemail. I prefer a pithy e-mail to a phone conversation. I keep in touch MUCH MORE with my friends who I made post-email then those who I made pre-email. I posit that it is because it is easier to keep in touch with them because one of the methods of our relationship has always been e-mail. I can communicate with a dozen friends with one e-mail rather than making 12 phone calls -- which I very much like. E-mail doesn’t replace voicemail or voice conversations, but it is a way to keep in touch and communicate freely when a phone conversation is not necessary.

I have not made it a secret that I recently married and that I went on a great honeymoon and that my wife is the best wife ever!! (Yes, she sometimes reads my postings.) Many, most of anyone reading this do not know me, but can get a sense of my thinking through this blog. Through these 1′s and 0′s that make up these letters and numbers.

So, here’s to 1′s and 0′s and staying in touch with friends and colleagues through e-mails, through personal websites, through blogs and through all things internet. Prediction: this internet thing is a connector of people and is here to stay.

Note: I was going through a computer upgrade today at work and was without connectivity for a teeth-grinding four hours which made me think about these things.

U.S. Independence Day 2005: What will life be like in another 229 years?

July 5, 2005 at 12:00 pm PST

On July 4th, 2005, the United States celebrates its 229th birthday. As we approach Independence Day, it made me think of what our world will be like in another 229 years.

My best guess of what the world will look like in 2234 is as good as anybody's I guess, so here goes: My top 10 things that will be different in 2234 than 2005:

1. Indepedence from oil. Cold fusion will be solved and our power needs will be forever sated. As a result, the environment will be in a much happier state.

2. Average life expentency today is around, let's say 80 years, in 2234, it will be 120.

3. That little diagnostic health device thingy that Bones uses on Star Trek. It will be for real.

4. Everybody will speak English…or Spanish…or there will be a simultaneous translating mechanism that one can fit in one's ear that will allow anyone to communicate with anyone…not as far as Dr. Doolittle, but all the human languages.

5. The basketball hoop in the NBA will be 12 feet, instead of the 10 it is today.

6. There will still be a Kennedy in the U.S. Senate and a major third political party will have emerged in the U.S. and be on par with the Democrats and Republicans.

7. The European Union will be one of the five Superpowers in the world…along with the U.S., China/India, United African States, and United South American States. Russia will have joined the EU.

8. Technology will be seamless in all that we do. Keyboards will no longer exist. Information will be instantaneously available for the asking through small devices worn on the body.

9. Killing in the name of religion will finally be recognized as counter-intuitive.

10. President of the United States: Roy Disney. Vice President: Ted Williams.

My dad is a retired American history professor and he could paint a much better picture of what 1776 was like, but I just did a little web-surfing and thought the following was worth mentioning in the “Did you know?” category: We declared Independence from Britain in 1776, but it wasn't until 1783, with the signing of the Treaty of Paris, that the U.S. formally became a free and independent nation. In 2005, we have largely declared independence from wires for broadband in the office and at home, but will it take another seven full years before we can declare a truly mobile broadband system? Let's hope not. How's that for a botched technology segue?

And, yes, they do have July 4th in England, but they don't celebrate it. Happy 4th of July, U.S.!

Anaheim, CA and Bellevue, WA – two innovative U.S. cities…

June 30, 2005 at 12:00 pm PST

Cisco hosted the quarterly meeting of the Joint Policy Collaborative (JPC) yesterday on our San Jose campus with special guests, Mayor Curt Pringle of Anaheim, CA and Toni Cramer, the CIO of Bellevue, WA. The JPC is a project of the Santa Clara County Cities Association, Joint Venture: Silicon Valley, San Jose/Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce and Silicon Valley Leadership Group (SVLG) and the goal is to collaborate on policy objectives that can be accomplished at the local level with input from industry and government. The group, consisting of mayors and councilmembers from Santa Clara cities, as well as industry representatives, heard some innovative ideas yesterday.

Mayor Pringle is one of those politicians who seems to have an R or a D next to his name only because he has to choose one of them…he really seems to be only concerned with accomplishing what is good for his city. Partisanship, clearly, doesn’t do much for his city, so he steers away from it. In his tenure as mayor he has brought some original thinking and a can-do attitude in approaching the “customer service” aspect of a govenment’s relationship with its citizens.

One of the most innovative things he has done and what seemed to garner the most interest from the meetings’ attendees was his implementation of a “Home Improvement Holiday” -- the waiving of all building permit fees for an 100 day period. Nearly $26M was invested in homes during this time…improving the value of the homes, as well as improving the city’s relationship with its citizens. What does this have to do with technology, you might ask? Not a lot, but what technology can do for government is to fundamentally change the way that citizens view their government…this is where Toni Cramer of Bellevue comes in. She freely admits that she couldn’t necessarily tell the difference between a server and a stereo, but her focus on creating and giving her customers what they want is a philosophy that you don’t hear often enough about in government. She and her team have created many tools to make permitting in her and surrounding cities easier as well as giving companies real-time information about commercial building vacancies that give them the information they need to make informed business decisions…among other things. Please check out: http://www.ci.bellevue.wa.us/page.asp?view=1026 for some of the tools that she and her team have implemented.

E-government and customer service are great, you say, but what are they doing in broadband? Thanks for asking. Both are implementing their own city-wide wi-fi service. Anaheim is using existing fiber that they have for monitoring traffic via video and Bellevue is building out hot-spots all over the city. I asked CIO Cramer what kind of ROI she was looking for in providing wi-fi city-wide, “It’s not about ROI,” she said, “it’s simply about giving our citizens service.” Interesting and commendable concept.

What would YOU do without the Internet?

June 29, 2005 at 12:00 pm PST

I went back and re-read my post-honeymoon posting from last week and realized that I had not addressed the more important question: “what would I do without the Internet?” Answer: I’d be absolutely lost.

There seem to be many conversations and discussions about how the Internet contributes to the ills of society, i.e. phishing, censorship, etc. I don’t want to sound polly-annish, but I would submit that there are lot more positive things that have come about from the Internet than negative. I have started a decidely, small list in this vein. Maybe I focus on the positive, not the negative, in general, but I’ve always been a glass half-full kind of guy…

1. I met my wife online…for this I am eternally grateful, as I honestly don’t know if I would have met her otherwise.2. I can scan four papers in the morning in about 30 minutes…of course, east coast papers are generally online at 9:00PM PT, so I can even get a jump on my day starting then…thank you NYTimes.com, Washingtonpost.com, and MercuryNews.com for being free…WSJ.com, well, thanks for being online.3. Who was the guy who played the kid in “Time Bandits” and what has he done since? Thanks to the internet I now know. My quest for knowledge has been sated. (FYI -- He can currently be seen in a small role in “Cinderalla Man.”)4. I can IM a colleague in DC or Brussels with a question and get an answer almost instantaneously.5. I can send an article to friends, colleagues and family and I don’t have to use scissors.6. I do my banking and bill-paying online -- WHICH IS THE GREATEST THING EVER, as I can never seem to find a stamp.7. How do I get from point A to point B? Mapquest, Yahoo Maps, or Google Maps.8. I need to book a flight to Chicago for my wife’s (saying “wife” is still very new to me, but fun!!) family reunion. For me, Expedia or Travelocity. Sometimes, usairways.com or united.com.9. Flight, hotels and cars for my recent honeymoon…all booked online.10. This fascinating blog entry…all done online… : )

Post some of your positive uses of the internet and let’s try to give the Internet a bit of its due rather than jumping on the “internet is the root of all evil” bandwagon. Isn’t it interesting, that most of those who are saying the internet is a bad thing are using the Internet to say it? My advice to them: dust off your printing press.

Op-Ed: RX for Fixing Healthcare: Technology

June 25, 2005 at 12:00 pm PST

I wanted to bring the following op-ed to your attention. It was penned by the head of our medical consulting group. He speaks about how technology can streamline systems and processes in the healthcare industry and not only make healthcare delivery more efficient but even make it better.

Here is the bio on Dr. Jeffrey Rideout: http://www.cisco.com/en/US/about/ac79/health/ourleadership.html

Here is the article as printed in today’s San Jose Mercury News: http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/opinion/11974248.htm