|Steve Cisler on Mon, 7 Oct 96 14:32 MET|
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|Re: nettime:market, anti-markets,:delanda 2/2|
It's interesting that Manuel DeLanda chose two U.S. high tech regions to make his case. I just attended Connect 96, an international conference on regional networking initiatives, hosted by Smart Valley here in Silicon Valley. I'll append the rather long report. Toward the end, I comment on Dr. AnnaLee Saxienian's talk about the two models DeLanda mentioned in his paper. Steve Cisler firstname.lastname@example.org ------------------------- Connect 96 Conference Report (day 1) By Steve Cisler (email@example.com) copyright 1996. This report may be redistributed on non-profit BBSes, listservs, web sites, and ftp archives. It may not be mirrored or placed on servers owned by America Online, Prodigy, MSN, or for-profit ventures without the express permission of the author. The URLs included in this report are just a sample of what you can find on the home page for the Connect 96 conference. That will lead you to more info about the people and projects covered in this report. Connect 96 is sponsored by Smart Valley, Inc. and Stanford University and is being held in Palo Alto, California, September 8-11, 1996. The conference chair is Harry Saal who helped build Smart Valley into an influential organization in the Silicon Valley by bringing people together, mostly from the world of high tech business, and getting them involved in projects that would benefit the region. Many of those who had worked with Saal or had benefited from his time and knowledge were here to pay tribute. Regional chairs from parts of the U.S., Japan, Singapore, and Europe chose projects to participate in the different panels and workshops. The price for general admission was $1500, and this proved to be a barrier for many people who would have benefited. Later, scholarships were made available, providing a steep discount to others, and this brought the attendance up to about 125. So who is attending? About a third are from other industrialized countries: UK, Sweden, Holland, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Australia, France, Germany, and Canada. A computer training center project from Romania is also on the program. About 80% of the attendees are men. Lots of suits (I wore one), but the late summer heat may loosen a few ties on the second day. The opening talk was by Regis McKenna who is on the Smart Valley board and who has lived through the various Silicon Valley revolutions (chips, PCs, and now networking). He spoke mainly about the effects of the high tech revolutions on our lives. Like many of us, he used the term "community" without really defining it. For some here it was a group of seniors online, for others it was a synonym for everyone in a region of 4 million people, and for many it was a nice term to wrap around regional infrastructure projects that mainly involved pulling cable and hooking up businesses. McKenna was most interested in real time interactions on networks and how it changed the way we live and do business. The pace is disruptive to the planning process--no time for strategy--and it can cause further fragmentation in our lives, but he saw networks as a way of rising above the fragmentation. The real time capabilities of the network change people's expectations about products, about service, and about access to information. It diminishes the importance of place, and he claims that the individual is not worried about Big Brother, as in the 50's, but just the opposite. The government is worried about the capabilities of the individual. I don't agree, and neither do surveys that show a strong concern by individuals about privacy, about surveillance by both government and commercial entities. McKenna had a diagram of the interaction between the real-time corporation (downsized, wired, responsive, decentralized); the real-time infrastructure and the public market. There were no "citizens" on this diagram: just customers, beta testers, and users. Given the number of good citizen projects that McKenna is involved in, I think his diagram should reflect the civic part of the generic consumer. This is the one part that may help offset what McKenna talked about as a downside--the growing discontent of well-wired consumer. "We do not know how to live in a boundaryless world." Although he had to leave after the talk, he would have seen that geographic boundaries do have meaning to the people representing regional projects who presented. Concentrating ones efforts on a region or town or neighborhood is the common thread these diverse people share. Some efforts are so tied to a given champion or charismatic project manager that they will flourish only in the area where he or she is working. Of course, the hope is that there are practices and goals and procedures that can work in Antwerp, Kuala Lumpur, or San Diego and not be linked to a strong personality. Many of these projects have a regional focus because that economic development is at the core of most of these projects, and the economy helps define the limits of the region. Bill Miller of Stanford claimed, "Globalism has reinforced regionalism" and weakened the nation-state. Of course the Asian disagreed. Kuk-Hwan Jeong of Korea said, "There is no difference between regional and national when it comes to networking." Harry Saal, in his opening remarks, was most candid about his successes and shortcomings during his years as director of Smart Valley. Interestingly, he was looking for projects that could not be replicated. These would show that Smart Valley was in the forefront. At the same time he realized that SVI and others do have a lot to share. An organization called ANCARA has recently been formed. Advanced Networked Cities and Regions Association includes projects such as Smart Valley and similar ones in Eindhoven, Stockholm, Singapore, Japan, Orlando. The membership is $10,000 US a year, and not just any community network can join. One goal is to encourage the private sector to do trial projects. A number of the Asian projects, especially in Malaysia and Singapore, are quite open in the need for a top down approach with government taking a very strong hand to provide money and direction and encouragement to the other participants who seem to be primarily from the business sector. The most valuable part of the program for me, apart from meetings in the halls, was the workshop format where people agreed to be case studies for other panelists and the audience to analyze. Jessica Lipnack of MassNet was frank in discussing how their networking project had bogged down because of hostility from the business sector and lack of a concrete outcome. One panelist said to give up on big business and concentrate on other small networkers, but Stephen Yeo, head of Singapore's National Computer Board, urged her to not give up. Chris Drew of the Northern Informatics Applications Agency in the UK was the guinea pig for the fund-raising workshop. He represents a poor, rural area on the border of Scotland and is finding fund-raising to be the hardest part of his job. The others on the stage were all from more urban areas (Association of <S.F.>Bay Area Governments, Potomac KnowledgeWay in Virginia, Smart Islands Japan, and a San Bernardino California project) but they provided valuable feedback but no signed checks. Potomac KnowledgeWay was represented by April Young, but the project had its impetus from Mario Morino, and the organization is engaged in a fund-raising drive to find $10 million over five years. Part of this money will be forthcoming as more of the Washington area powers-that-be face the fact that downsizing the Federal government is not going to stop, no matter who is elected this year. The region has to remake itself into much more than the seat of federal government and bureaucracy. Panelists on the other sessions included Andrew Cohill of Blacksburg Electronic Village; Michael Bookey of the Issiquah WA project; Tooru Ono of New COARA, Oita prefecture in Japan, and Anders Constedt from the city of Stockholm, Sweden. These panels covered getting started and the role of leadership in regional networks. During the long evening reception short poster sessions were held near the food and drink, and many of the projects from Australia, Malaysia, France, Japan, and other countries had 15 minute time slots to make contact with interested attendees. Mary Furlong, the founder of SeniorNet, the very successful non-profit that has provided instruction and an online community for people over 55, has resigned and is starting a for-profit Global Senior Network that will be web-based and advertiser supported. Listening to her presentation and seeing the effects of her past efforts, you can understand why nobody she approaches for support can ever say no! As I drove home from Palo Alto the first evening I felt as though it had been worthwhile. So many people interested in community and regional networking have a feeling that this is totally new, that they are pioneers. George Koron of Hewlett-Packard thought this was the first international conference on the topic, but in reality, it is the fourth or fifth one. There is so much going on that even people who are well connected like Harry Saal or who attend a lot of these conferences like I do, just cannot keep up with all the major projects (nor the smaller ones). In spite of the advanced networking, it is hard to be aware about what is happening. This is a great opportunity for a person, a business, a school, or a government agency to tackle, but a clearinghouse would be a lot of work to keep up to date information on all the international projects springing up. Not just the regional mega-projects but the grass roots ones, the library efforts, the for-profit ventures. Having a list of URLs is just not the answer. Tomorrow: Global perspectives; managing volunteers; role of the organizational structure; role of vision and goals. See www.svi.org for URLs about this conference and the projects Connect 96 Conference Report (day 2-3) By Steve Cisler (firstname.lastname@example.org) copyright 1996. This report may be redistributed on non-profit BBSes, listservs, web sites, and ftp archives. It may not be mirrored or placed on servers owned by America Online, Prodigy, MSN, or for-profit ventures without the express permission of the author. Tuesday, Sept. 10 The plenary session began with Stephen Yeo of the National Computer Board of Singapore giving an introduction to the diversity of the Asian telecommunications scene: in terms of phones/thousand inhabitants, number of Internet users (Japan: 1.4 million; Singapore 125,000; Hong Kong 12,000; Taiwan 5000) the number of ISPs (he remarked that even a nation at war like Sri Lanka had two) He saw a $100 billion investment over the next five years, but there were still countries without the basic needs being met who were trying to participate in this massive growing of infrastructure. He spoke about the concept of the Asia-Pacific Information Infrastructure and an Asia Internet backbone. At the same time there is a huge growth in energy development. Franco Mariotti of HP, Geneva, talked about the fast pace of change in Europe. He said not much can happen there without a social consensus which is called the Information Society. From what he said there is more discussion in Europe than in Asia about the effects on individuals and groups in society (academics, labor, linguistic groups) than in Asia. I asked Yeo if it was possible for an individual to have input to the process in Singapore. He said that such large amounts of money were at stake that only organizations working with government could have a real voice but that people could join those groups to be heard. Later in the conference a colleague from Singapore noted that the spirit of volunteerism is low, so government takes the initiative for both the vision and the implementation of a project. A panel discussion on vision and goals included reps from ONE/Northwest an environmental support group that is helping non-profits improve their telecomm capabilities; WinonaNet (MN) a small town community network sponsored by the local paper; Smart Toronto; and the Malaysian Institute of Microelectronic Systems in Kuala Lumpur. This last org. was represented by Tengu Mohd Assman Shariffadeen, and his viewpoint was similar to that of Singapore. Both places said that top down projects worked just fine in that part of the world, and they seemed a bit bemused by all the talk of grass-roots and bottom up development. Malaysia has a goal of being a "developed country" by 2020; hence the term Malaysia 2020.