Post by Mark Chandler, SVP, General CounselToday, I joined colleagues from Google and Yahoo as well as two human rights groups to address the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law on issues related to global Internet Freedom. (I also testified two years ago before a House subcommittee on the same topic.) As a company that supports open communication, Cisco is proud of the role it has played in bringing the benefits of Internet technology to people of all nations. Our technology has helped connect the world in an unprecedented fashion. Perhaps the most vivid recent example of the changes the Internet has is the response in China to last week’s tragic earthquake. Within minutes, pictures and videos from the region were online and people were using the internet to coordinate relief, speed financial assistance and share information. Today, with more than 220 million Internet users in China (versus 80,000 in 1995), the ability of the average citizen to find information has been dramatically expanded. Read More »
About six months ago, I installed solar panels at my house. Not that I expect to go ‘off the grid,’ but its impact is already showing as the days grow longer. Being a tech-geek, I was naturally fascinated by the computerized electric meter that came with the installation. The built-in technology tracks my usage and diverts the energy as needed. So, if the sun is high, and my consumption is low, I am in fact sending electricity back into the grid. This got me thinking, and doing a bit of research-.Sending power back into the grid isn’t new. But it does open the whole discussion of smart metering, the ability to monitor and possibly adjust one’s electricity consumption, and leverage the network. We’re already seeing companies focused on helping industries manage peak utilization by cutting off or reducing non-essential loads; helping municipalities better manage their street lighting; and helping farmers better manage their irrigation based on weather patterns. But this is only the beginning.Soon, I’ll be able to log into the network and view my home’s energy utilization. In fact, at least one company in Silicon Valley already offers this as a service. I’ll be able to set policies to automatically reduce usage based on cost, or adjust it manually. But, what’s exciting is that this same capability can be extended to my security system. With an IP-enabled system, I’ll be able to see what’s happening in the house, and check on the heating or fridge (hey, who took the last yogurt?!) from anywhere in the world. Yes, this technology exists today. But only recently has the connectivity, either wireline or wireless --within the house and between the house and the Internet--been available. It’s moving beyond the early adopter and hobbyist to the mainstream. And mainstream folks are seeing a new use of the network infrastructure-tens of millions of endpoints, always on, always communicating. The IP network has really transformed how we communicate, but now we are seeing the potential of how it can transform our lives and help the environment.
Sarah Lacy’s new book “Once You’re Lucky, Twice You’re Good,” which I wrote about last week, has a sub-head stating, “The rebirth of Silicon Valley.” Chris O’Brien is the new business columnist for the San Jose Mercury News and in his first column yesterday (you need to add this to your RSS feed) he writes, in part, that Silicon Valley is “(a) region that appeared sunk after the dot-com bust has once again reinvented itself…” My response to both of these concepts is: talk to Intel. Talk to HP. Talk to Cisco. Talk to Apple. Talk to Adobe. Talk to eBay. Talk to Oracle. Talk to Yahoo! Talk to Symantec. Etc. I would think that we would all argue that while the dot com downturn impacted us all, we never needed reinvention or rebirth. We’re all doing pretty much the same thing…more innovation, for sure, but same as pre-dot.com. I would also argue that while web 2.0 is very exciting (I use facebook, twitter, digg and a number of other Web 2.0 “tools” and companies) I would ask what impact have these technologies had on job creation and revenue to equal a “rebirth” or “reinvention” of Silicon Valley? While Cisco is adopting some Web 2.0 technologies to help run our business (see, WebEx et al) and while Silicon Valley is always innovating products to support and drive web 2.0 technologies, I don’t think that routers and switches and servers and computer chips and databases, etc. ever were dead…so, no need of rebirthing or reinvention. Always innovating, however.Maybe a nit on my part, but an important one I think.
Cisco is all about Web 2.0., so with that in mind, I attended an “Book Club” interview yesterday at Outcast Communications between Michael Arrington of TechCrunch and Sarah Lacy. They were talking about Sarah’s new book (to be released today), “Once You’re Lucky, Twice You’re Good” which grew out of Sarah’s BusinessWeek cover story of Digg’s Kevin Rose in August of 2006. The sub-head of the book is “The rebirth of Silicon Valley and the Rise of Web 2.0.” While I might argue that with Cisco, Intel, HP, Genentech, Sun, Google, eBay, Adobe, Apple, Oracle, Symantec, Verisign, Yahoo! and many others that a few start-ups don’t define a Silicon Valley rebirthing, I look forward to reading the book and her point of view.Her book “is the story of the entrepreneurs who learned their lesson from the bust and in recent years have created groundbreaking new Web companies. The second iteration of the dotcoms-dubbed Web 2.0-is all about bringing people together. Social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace unite friends online; YouTube lets anyone posts videos for the world to see; Digg.com allows Internet users to vote on the most relevant news of the day; Six Apart sells software that enables bloggers to post their viewpoints online; and Slide helps people customize their virtual selves.”I got a copy of the book last night (thanks for signing it, Sarah) and haven’t read it yet, but will and will offer a review on this site asap.Note: If you’d like to see (and kind of hear) the Arrington/Lacy interview, you can do so on TechCrunch site via Qik. Qik allows you to stream live videos from your phone, so the sound quality without external mics is a bit iffy, but still a pretty cool technology.
Social networking sites are buzzing; the debut of Google Friend Connect promises to add to that buzz. And so, the race is on to make social networks much more open and portable, according to Kim Hart in her recent blog post,”The All-Things-Social Craze.” But as important is the power of the most global of social networks -the Internet, itself. The earth is flattening, and our sense of community now transcends geographic boundaries. History and environmental lessons on-demand, mash-ups-our modern-day trip diaries-the reach of the Internet has triggered a curiosity in us, a desire to share thoughts and experiences. Simple tools give us the ability to zoom in on a small town or bit of countryside we’ve always wondered about. Or, even more granularly, take us to a street-view, giving us the experience of being a virtual pedestrian. But let’s take it to the next level. It’s 2018, and I’ve got a bit of shopping to do. Not at the local mall, though. I’ve heard of this chic new store, but it’s not in Los Gatos, where I live; it is in Paris. No worries. I zoom into the south bank from my laptop (or just as easily from my cellphone), and make my way along St. Germain. I find the store and enter. And I’m transported to an immersive web experience, a generation beyond what Second Life provides. As I’m browsing, someone from the store comes to my aid. Just as if I was there in person. Questions answered, purchase made. Read More »