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Video Changes Everything

In the past several years video has pushed its way to the forefront as the next big thing. The first major development was the introduction of high-definition flat panel TVs. People were mesmerized by how big the screen was and the fact that it could be easily hung on their wall and take up virtually no living space. These bigger and better screens spawned the development of hi-def content that could take advantage of the bigger screen and the superior resolution. The second major development was the increase in bandwidth delivered by service providers. The pipe grew big enough to deliver bandwidth intensive video in a reasonable time and at sufficient quality. The final development was the birth of You Tube. You Tube allowed people to begin to view and share their favorite video clips with friends over the internet. In essence it created a world of unlimited channels that the consumer controlled by searching or more often discovering content recommended to them by friends or related to content that they had just viewed.While there were many other developments, these are what I call the “Holy Trinity” and stand out as the most significant. The speed in which these developed and spread was amazing and has spurred battles between the service providers, the TV manufacturers and internet video sites. Now everyone is putting their video cap on and beginning to think of new and innovative ways that video can be leveraged to change the consumer and business experience. Telco’s and cable companies are updating their networks to handle the increased network loads, amateur and professional content creators are seeking new ways to distribute content to their audience and businesses are evaluating how they can use video to be more collaborative. This competition creates confusion, but it also spurs innovation which creates business opportunities for both established players and new entrants. Most importantly innovation creates compelling new experiences for consumers and businesses.Regardless of the different philosophies being pursued its safe to say that video is about to become a much larger part of our personal and work lives. Some will see this as a bad thing and express concern that more video will further isolate people, increase the time that we spend watching TV, etc. Personally, I see it through a different lens. Working at Cisco I already see how video is having an impact on the way that people live, work, play and learn. As opposed to being a divisive force I think it can help bring people closer together. Video will have a major impact on how people live. It will augment existing text and voice communications making them more personal, more emotional. It will change where people are able to view TV shows and movies and which devices they will be able to use to access the video content. It will change the way that we learn about new ideas and share our own knowledge with others. It’s impossible to predict exactly what the future will look like, but it will certainly be exciting for both the people who are developing the video technology and the user community who gets to sample these new visual networking experiences.Sign-up for Cisco’s new web series Digital Cribs.View Michael Kisch's profile on LinkedInTo learn more about visual networking go to: Wikipedia

Reliving the Glory Days w/Online Video

A friend sent me a link to a video on YouTube yesterday. It was of one of my all time favoriate musicians Jeff Tweedy of the band Wilco. He was telling a story about a strange twist of events that found him vacationing in Mexico next to his old bandmate Jay Farrar, a person for various reasons he hasn’t spoken to for over ten years. The clip was from a show at the Vic Theater in Chicago from January 2008. It was a funny story that lasted all of 3min. But it got me searching for old archival footage of Jeff’s previous band, Uncle Tupelo. 99% of you probably have no clue who Uncle Tupelo was or who Wilco and Son Volt are. They were/are not mainstream bands that receive lots of airplay on the radio. But Uncle Tupelo was a very signficant band to my friends and I while growing up in the midwest. They blended the twang of americana with the anger of punk. They were one of the few bands that we would pay attention to and get tickets to their shows when they came through Chicago. Sidebar…Jeff Tweedy eventually married a woman that owned a club right near my apartment in Chicago. I got to meet him one night while he sat on the curb waiting for the show to start. 12 years later and it is still my coolest “celebrity” run-in. The purpose of my post is not to go on and on about a band that I used to love that broke up for the usual reasons. My point is that I can go back and experience archived shows and interviews of one of my favoriate bands that had an impact during my formative adult years. How cool is it that I can go back and find the last song ever performed by Uncle Tupelo before they broke up in 1992.This is one of the key benefits of visual networking. The ability for a friend to forward me a video. The ability for that video to be associated with other related videos and the ability for that video to be streamed to me over my PC, TV or mobile phone. I ended up spending a good chunk of my Sunday evening checking out old music videos and user generated video from Uncle Tupelo shows as far back as 1987. I also forwarded a bunch of them to old friends so they could breathe in the nostalgia of one of our favorite bands.Sign-up for Cisco’s new web series Digital Cribs.View Michael Kisch's profile on LinkedInTo learn more about visual networking go to: Wikipedia

War: What is it Good For?

I think Edwin Starr said it best, “War! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing!” Edwin was of course speaking about our presence in Vietnam, but the words ring true in the consumer technology market today. Our industry has for years engaged in battles over formats often to the detriment of the consumer. There was Beta v. VHS,, now we have Blu-Ray v. HD-DVD View Michael Kisch's profile on LinkedIn

Visual Networking: Bringing Families Together

Pundits often focus on the negative side of our ever growing fascination with technology. Arguments are made that technology is creating distance between families and enabling anti-social behavior among our children. This may be true, but a recent experience has me optimistic about the ability of video technologies to bridge physical and emotional distance and bring a family closer together.My wife and I are new parents. We waited a bit later than the normal couple to have children and this created a level of pent-up demand amongst our parents. In particular, my mom and dad had to wait 36 years for their first grandchild. This was especially hard as they watched all of their siblings become grandparents. Since the birth of my daughter, Ava 6 months ago we have seen my parents four times and my in-laws 3 times. Before the baby, we saw our parents at most 2 times per year. That pretty much tells you everything you need to know about how excited they were about the new addition to the family. It may also tell me something about how interesting they find my wife and I after 36 years.Since I got married we have rotated who we spend every holiday season with. This year it was my parents turn, but because they had visited us at Thanksgiving and were in the middle of a major remodel they stayed on the east coast and we on the west. I felt bad that we couldn’t travel to see them because at this age Ava changes on a weekly basis. As an example of this, I was just out of town for three days and by the time I got back my daughter had rolled over for the first time and was sticking her toes in her mouth. This may not seem like much to most people, but to a new father it meant that I missed a series of firsts. I really wanted my parents to be able to experience part of the holiday with Ava. The problem was that at her age she can’t talk, can’t write an email and a photo while being worth a thousand words lacks the nuance of live interaction. As I thought about this I receive a corporate-wide email announcing a program called”Home for the Holidays”. Apparently some charitable soul at Cisco sold senior management on the idea of allowing employees to use our Telepresence systems to reach out to our friends and families during the holidays. Cisco has over 100+ Telepresence facilities across the world and one of them happened to be near where my parents live in New Hampshire. I quickly set up the session and arranged for my parents to be let into the Cisco office in Boxborough. As the day approached I tried to explain to my parents what Telepresence was. They didn’t seem to get it and eventually I gave up and told them they would understand once they experienced it.The day after Christmas my wife, daughter and I entered my building on the Cisco campus in San Jose. At the same time my parents were getting situated in a room in Boxborough, MA 3,000 miles away. As the Telepresence system came to life I watched with amusement as the eyes lit up on every member of my family including my 6-month old daughter. We talked for almost an hour. We discussed how Xmas day went, what gifts Ava received, what we had for dinner and how we planned to spend the rest of our holidays. We put Ava on the desk facing my parents. They were able to make her smile by talking to her and making exaggerated facial expressions. They commented on how her eye color was changing, her hair was growing out and the little scratch on her nose she had given herself during her nap the day before. For a moment it felt like they were in the room with her. The only thing missing was the ability to hold her and change a dirty diaper. It was an emotional moment made possible by a revolution in the use of video to bridge distances that audio and text alone have been unable to do.In a discussion with a group of analysts the other day, they asked me if I thought visual networking experiences like Telepresence would ever be of interest to mainstream consumers. I said that I didn’t know but as our world becomes flatter and people are separated by greater distances, as the younger generation continues to develop different ways to communicate, the combination of social networking and digital video has the potential to make the world feel more personal than it has in a long time.Sign-up for Cisco’s new web series Digital Cribs.View Michael Kisch's profile on LinkedInTo learn more about visual networking go to: Wikipedia

The !@#$% Product Rating Scale

I have my own rating scale for consumer technology. It’s called the !@#$% scale. It works the opposite of most ratings in that perfection is as close to zero as possible. For every swear word uttered you add one point. Unlike most rating scales there is no finite limit. Theoretically a new product could score a 2,327 on my scale. No product has ever gotten close because I usually take a bat to the product when it gets close to 50. My !@#$% rating scale is so easy to understand even my dog gets it. For lower scores he stays close and wants to be petted. For higher scores he typically runs away and cowers behind a piece of furniture or my wife if no furniture is readily available.It’s important to note that I’m not dumb (I can’t say that everyone agrees with this statement). I attended a lot of school and paid attention most of the time. However I’m not smart enough to have earned a doctorate in computer science or electrical engineering. When something gets too difficult to understand I either don’t do it or pay someone else to do it for me. I’m a reasonably good barometer for new technologies. If I’m compelled to buy and able to get the product to work most people should be able to.Recently I’ve been on a bit of a buying spree of new consumer technology. In the past several months I’ve picked up a Sling Box Pro, an Apple iTouch, a Nintendo Wii, and a Canon S1000 digital camera. I have justified these expenditures based upon the fact that I work in consumer marketing at Cisco and therefore should be trialing the latest technology. My wife is a bit skeptical of this reasoning and is wondering why I can’t get Cisco to subsidize my recent purchases since they are a”business expense”.Sign-up for Cisco’s new web series Digital Cribs. Read More »