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Telegraph vs. Internet: Which Had Greater Impact?

2012 is the bicentennial of the War of 1812.  You may remember just two things about this period from your high school history class.  First, in an act of ignominy for the Americans, the British burned down the capital.  Second, the war ended with the resounding defeat of the British by the heroic General Andrew Jackson in January 1815, in what was the war’s only set-piece battle between the opposing sides.  Jackson eventually rode this victory into the Presidency.

There is only one problem with this battle.  It took place after the war was over.  The previous month, in Europe, the two sides had agreed to peace.  But in those days, communications was so slow that word of the peace didn’t reach New Orleans until February 1815.

Fast forward, approximately forty-eight years later, to the Civil War.  In the period between these two wars, in 1831, Morse thought up the idea for the electronic telegraph.  The Union Army had mastered its quick deployment, so that in 1863 while sitting in Washington, President Lincoln could read almost real time reports from the battlefields many miles away.

book cover

This was a dramatic increase in the speed of communications.  Not all that many decades later, telegraph lines and cables would unite the world.  Yet this did not fundamentally change the way people worked or lived or governed themselves.

So consider 2011, when the US Navy Seals got Osama Bin Laden.  There was a tweet about helicopters within several minutes, but the author didn’t know why the helicopters were nearby.  The first tweet with some confirmation came about forty-five minutes before President Obama made his announcement.

Now think back about forty-eight years before to November 22, 1963 and the assassination of President John Kennedy.  The news was out quickly all over television and radio and newspapers.  Walter Cronkite famously told the viewers of CBS News that the President had died thirty-eight minutes before.

Unlike the 19th century examples, there was no dramatic speed up in the reporting of these two more recent events separated by roughly forty-eight years.  While we may have more sources of information in more places now than in 1963, word doesn’t get out all that much faster.  You could argue that the Telegraph had a greater impact on communications than the Internet.

Yet many of us have the feeling that our world has been changed by this communications.  Why is that?

I think it has to do with the changing nature of the work we do.  In the mid-19th century, more than three quarters of Americans made things or grew food.  In 2011, less than a quarter do so and the rest of us provide services — and increasingly intangible services, including ideas, knowledge, entertainment and the like which is delivered digitally.  Because better digital communications directly speeds up the delivery of these services, we see the impact more.  It’s the increasing availability of high quality communications, in conjunction with these significant socio-economic trends, which will continue to change our lives.

Please share with us how you’ve seen the confluence of these two trends? Reply here and visit the Cisco Public Sector Customer Connection Community.

[picture credit for Battle of New Orleans http://www.frenchcreoles.com/battnozz.jpg]

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Arkansas to Enhance Government Function with Adoption of Mobile Video

February 8, 2012 at 4:59 am PST

When it comes to using cutting-edge mobile video technology, Arkansas is blazing the trail for state and local governments.

In the process of developing a network to support data, voice, and video communication services, the state plans to integrate mobile devices into this system beginning this month (February, 2012). According to Government Technology, Arkansas state leaders want to improve public service by embracing what they see as a shift to “a more mobile environment.” Read More »

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Bringing Wired and Wireless Broadband Together

By Howard Baldwin, Contributing Columnist

Wireless bandwidth has been on my mind a lot recently. Computerworld recently published my article, Wireless Bandwidth: Are We Running Out of Room?, which led to a stint on NPR’s “To The Point” on the topic. But until I tuned into one of the latest Broadband Breakfast presentations, The Wired Home and Wireless Policy – Convergence Legislation and Consumer Adoption, I didn’t realize that I’d been thinking about wireless in a way that technology people are supposed to avoid: in a silo.

Read More »

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Usage-Based Billing by Service Providers?

In the past five years, consumer monthly Internet usage has grown nearly three-fold, but users spend little more than in 2006. According to Cisco’s Visual Networking Index Global Forecast 2011, consumption per U.S. user grew 278 percent. In that same time frame, according to published research, the monthly U.S. cable broadband ARPU remained virtually flat.

As consumers increasingly rely on their broadband access for more of the basic everyday needs, broadband has become the most important core service provider service when compared to pay TV, mobile voice, landline phone and mobile data. But these broadband service providers are struggling to get consumers to equate the value of their online experiences with the value of their broadband service. To that end, SPs are actively considering usage-based billing strategies as a tool to align consumer value perceptions with their underlying networks. Anecdotal evidence from non-U.S. SPs that have introduced usage-based billing indicates that it can drive new value creation.

To help explore consumers’ perspectives, Cisco’s Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG) conducted a survey of broadband users in the United States, Canada, France, and Italy to determine current views on usage-based billing policies and approaches.

This particular document is titled “Usage-Based Billing Strategies Can Enable SPs to Align Customer Value Perception with Network Investments”.   It can be found on the Service Provider Thought Leadership section of the website of Cisco IBSG.  At this site, you will find many interesting, provocative papers on various subjects relating to the service provider segment.  

Check this and others out . . .

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Innovation in the 21st Century City

As a global director of the Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group’s Urban Innovation team, I’ve seen how broadband connectivity can radically transform urban life, while forcing us to rethink our entire approach to designing and managing cities. I recently had the opportunity to share some of my ideas on the subject at the 2011 World Council of UCLG (United Cities and Local Governments) in Florence, Italy.

The Council represents nearly half the world’s population, from 36 countries and more than 1,000 cities—everywhere from Istanbul and Dakar to Helsinki and New York. In Florence, more than 400 mayors, along with municipal ministers, directors, innovators and other experts, met to discuss the daunting challenges facing today’s cities, while offering solutions in a creative and interactive forum. Topics ranged from transportation, utilities, and infrastructure to tourism and environmental sustainability.

Mayor Matteo Renzi of Florence, the host of the event, has worked with Cisco on innovation initiatives in his city. In addition to helping him plan the conference, I was granted the opportunity to moderate some sessions on urban innovation. Read More »

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