East coast, west coast + “smarter planet”

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As far as I am concerned, today is the first day of “meteorological Winter” where I live in western New York. Though we only got freezing rain this morning, folks about 45 minutes west of us got 5 or 6 inches of wet snow. They live closer to Buffalo and so they’re much more affected by Lake Erie. I’m due south of Lake Ontario, so we get more of its influence on our weather, including lake effect snow over a four or five month period.

That’s not at all what the weather was when I was in San Francisco last week for the Web 2.0 Summit. With perhaps one exception (the panel where Google, Facebook, and Microsoft sniped at each other about their platforms, while the MySpace guy just kind of watched it all), it was worthwhile to attend.The weather was warm and sunny the whole time I was there.

As I said above, I live in New York, which is on the east coast of the US and San Francisco is on the west coast. Silicon Valley is just south of San Francisco and there is a huge cultural and linguistic difference in the computer industry between the coasts, in my opinion.

For an example, when a west coast software person says “Hi, I’m the CEO of blahblahblah.com,” I wonder how many minutes it has been since that company has been incorporated. Of course, the huge successes of a few companies drive the creation of more of these instant companies, but I’m not so sure of their exit strategies these days.

I’m being facetious, of course, but I could swear that at a conference in San Francisco two years ago, some guy started two companies over lunch. It’s important to think expansively and innovatively, of course.

I thought the “Web 2.0 and Politics” session was wonderful, and Al Gore was inspiring, most so when he stuck to climate issues rather than Web 2.0 technologies.

I thought John Batelle and Tim O’Reilly did fine jobs with their interviews and panels, and I thought they were absolutely right when they grilled people over business models, especially when they were being evasive. (Twitter’s cool, but I can’t see how anything I’ve ever done on it has made a cent for the company. That’s fine with me, but I’m not paying their electric bills.)

When you get a chance, check out the “smarter planet” material I spoke about in my talk. I’ll post a link to the video if and when it is available. You’ll be hearing a lot more about it. Here are some key points:

  • We’ve got a huge IT infrastructure in place now, and the IT and physical infrastructures are starting to converge.
  • There are some critical global systemic problems that need comprehensive solutions rather than band aids.
  • Moving from the in-place to instrumentation, connectivity, and processing power to something that resembles real-time intelligence is our best way of solving these problems.
  • Given the urgency on which the world now needs to focus on economic problems, now is exactly the right time for placing some well-considered big bets.
  • Given the new political administration coming into Washington, these big bet efforts may and probably will be accomplished through public-private partnerships.
  • We need to go from “Think globally, act locally” to “Think globally, act locally, regionally, nationally, and globally.”
  • What’s your role? What will need to change in the way you manage your home and your life, and how will you play a part in the global transformations that are now necessary?

These are important whether you live on the east, west, north, south or no coast at all.

Update: The video is now online.


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