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The Internet of Everything & Cisco Live:
A Wife’s Perspective

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Jonathan untangling the universe.

 

Falling in Love with a Network Engineer

My husband and I met online 7 years ago; we lived 6 blocks apart. I was a jet setting designer and he was a dashing network engineer. When we started dating he would go off on very long (and confusing) monologues over dinner where he tried to explain to me how he internet works, how an email I sent him would get routed to him, why I needed a password vault like yesterday. Maybe he didn’t really like me? Why did he talk about this stuff all the time? I really wasn’t really sure what to make of it, but the sex was great. I had only known him a few weeks when he was insisting that I buy a big new hard drive. He set up my data to automatically back itself up and he segmented my hard drives. After dating two months he asked me to go to Italy with him. We drove a convertible from Rome to the Amalfi Coast. He made me buy a Blackberry.

Time went on, and I moved in with him (and his blinking racks full of devices). I learned that there were dark places in the internet and I went exploring. I bought bitcoin. I encrypted my drives. We added a weather station to our home automation system (because you want to know YOUR weather, right?). We bought a server and a RAID. I watered my lemon tree in Los Angeles via my iPhone while sitting in a coffeehouse in Bali. I starting accumulated a lot of high-tech kitchen appliances. My Zojirushi rice cooker could probably land the space shuttle (while it sings lullabies). I automated my online life with IFTTT and started writing code. Somehow, through my husband, I have gotten sucked into this techy gadget-y world. And, you know what? I love it.

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I’m a Cisco wife and Tomorrow Starts Here

For the uninitiated, Cisco is the leading manufacturer of routing equipment: routers and switches. But it is really much more than that – Cisco is a cultural well-spring and hub of the geek/futurist world. Cisco is a lifestyle that encourages innovation and technology. Cisco is a culture that is obsessed with the future. Moreover, Cisco makes a big effort to make tech/IT/network people feel like they have a critical role in manifesting the future. As part of their educational and cultural outreach, they hold huge conferences, called Cisco Live all over the world each year. Earlier this summer, I traveled to Orlando to attend Cisco Live 2013 with my husband. Over 20,000 people attended.

This year, I was not an official attendee. It’s expensive and I was mostly along for the ride. But I had access to my husbands Cisco iPad app that let me watch all the presentations from the comfort of my hotel room / pool chaise. I got really sucked into the presentations and speeches. It was much more accessible than I expected, even for a non-tech person like me. I found it to be a broader discussion about the future and how we want to live in the near future. In the evenings I would meet up with Jonathan and other Cisco people for dinner, drinks and to discuss everything Cisco. What did we talk about? Mostly, the Internet of Everything.

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The Internet of Things/Everything

Are you aware that the internet is about to EXPLODE in size? Soon the traffic and connections between humans will be far surpassed by the connections between THINGS on the internet. Welcome to the The Internet of Things (IoT). Cisco’s current Internet of Everything prediction is 37 billion “intelligent things,” such as cars, appliances, smartphones, tablets, monitoring sensors and more, will be connected to the Internet by 2020.

One of the first ways I see IoT affecting me is the connection of my household appliances to the internet. My refrigerator could scan all the item in my fridge and alert me to what was going to perish next, so I could try to use it up. Or it could send an electronic order to the local grocer and tell them what staples we need to have delivered. Or it could check my schedule online and realize that I am out-of-town, so that the order should be skipped this week. Do I want my washing machine to text my housekeeper and remind her to pick up laundry detergent? Maybe. Or the washer could just order the detergent via Amazon Prime and have is shipped from a vast soulless distribution center. But what happens when my dryer starts trying to sell me a certain brand of dryer sheets? Are all my devices going to be trying to sell me something? Will my house essentially be taken over? Will I lose control?

Lots of Questions

  • What will my daily life be like in 2020?
  • Will the internet of everything be annoying?
  • I might walk to the farmers market to buy local produce but my home might be connected to servers in India. So what is local and what is global?
  • How do we spend our free time once the Internet of Everything has automated our lives (2020-ish)? Once our cars are self driving (2030-ish)? — Meditate? Blog about it? Marathon more TV shows? Exercise? I’d like to think that I would have more time to write, draw and work on creative projects. But would I really? I have a feeling my daily life might look a lot like an IT help desk.
  • And probably the scariest question of them all — how do we all make a living when so much of our world (and work) has been automated?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m totally ready to embrace the future. I’m excited about the changes and innovations we will get to see in our lifetimes. I am fascinated by cities and the potential for them to work differently and be smarter and more adaptable. But I also think we need to figure out how to keep the masses of people busy, useful and employed. Things are changing fast on the technology front and we really need to talk more about the impact on daily life, work and cities. As they say at Cisco, tomorrow starts here.

Note to Cisco Live people: Please give me a PRESS PASS for Cisco Live San Francisco 2014 and I will gladly blog & tweet about the internet of everything, the future and the sausage fest you call CiscoLive. I’m already going to be in SF, just let me in!

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