SMART Letter #11
September 21, 1998



            SMART Letter #11 - September 21, 1998

        For Friends and Enemies of the Stupid Network

             Copyright 1998 by David S. Isenberg -- -- 1-888-isen-com




 + Lead essay: Here's Looking . . . Child Care Cams

 + Mark A. Frautschi's Embedded Processors & Year 2000 essay

 + New Talk: Internet Telephony: Sustaining or Disruptive?

 + Conferences on My Calendar, Copyright Notice, Administrivia



Child Care Cams could be a winner app*.

The usefulness of truly new applications is not a priori 

knowable. And we can't ask our customers - they don't know 

the future either.  (For example, in 1992 there was zero 

demand for web browsers.) The Stupid Network's advantage is 

that it allows immediate (i.e., not mediated) user-to-user 

experimentation.  And lots of people love to experiment.  

So the Internet provides a fertile field, and a thousand 

flowers bloom.  Occasionally one of these flowers catches 

my eye.

The Child-Care Camera was the flower of a recent Sue 

Shellenbarger Wall Street Journal column on Work & Family 

(August 19, 1998).  The column recounts a day-in-the-life 

of the Mastons, a couple with high-tech jobs, and their 

three-year-old daughter Maddie.  Maddie Maston goes to a 

nursery school that supports parent placement of cameras 

connected to the Internet.  During the day, Mr. Maston 

keeps the image of his daughter's nursery school classroom 

in a window on his workstation.  He checks on his daughter 

frequently, but briefly.  His wife (a product manager in 

another company) and his mother (a secretary in another 

state) also look in on Maddie.

The story's unexpected twist is improved father-daughter 

communication.  At the end of the day, father could ask 

daughter, "Were you sitting in the dark today?" because he 

had seen her doing it.  So prompted, the three year old 

bubbled with talk about candles and birthday parties.  

Without the camera, Maston might have asked, "What did you 

do today?"  Questions like this might seem simple to an 

adult, but they are loaded with assumptions that a three-

year-old is likely to have difficulty parsing.  The 

question really means, "What did you do that was 

interesting?"  This requires a three-year-old to review her 

day, culling out the event or two that might interest 

somebody else - which, truth be told, is a skill that fails 

many adults. The camera lets the parent take that 

responsibility.  The child, supplied with a specific 

context, can now articulate a meaningful, sociable 


In times past, parents watched their children from lower-

tech windows.  Times change - increasingly parents 

and children return to the pod merely to eat and sleep.  

Technology changes, opening new windows on new worlds.  

Human needs, like the need of a father to glance at his 

daughter as he works, and the need of a child to talk to 

her dad, endure.


*Do you like 'winner app' better than 'killer app'? If so, 

 feel free to use it in your work too (no copyright, no tm).




essay by Mark A. Frautschi, which can be found on -- it outlines the

risk of some 50 BILLION embedded processors, one to three

percent of which will fail due to a two-digit date AND a

date-sensitive application.  

Only one percent -- what me worry?

That's only 500,000,000 systems that will be failed links 

in a complex chain that clinks through every hasp of the 

economy -- manufacturing, raw materials, transportation, 

communication, medical care . . . Medical Care?

Hey, better not be in a hospital on December 31, 1999 (as if 

you'll have a choice).  

This is REQUIRED READING, in my humble opinion.



Since I have given my Stupid Network talk at VON meetings in

San Jose and Oslo, I thought I would use the Washington DC VON

for something new.  I based my talk on "The Innovator's Dilemma"

by Clayton Christensen (See SMART Letter #10 for lengthy review),

in which the distinction between sustaining and disruptive tech-

nologies is clearly drawn.  I examine IP Telephony in this light

and observe that it has grabbed the attention of the major telcos,

who are treating it as sustaining (better, faster, cheaper in 

the old market space).  Meanwhile, I observe that the Internet

is clearly disruptive in virtually every space it touches -- retail,

news, radio, advertising, publishing, travel, gambling, pornography,

etc., etc.  What makes telephony different, if anything?  Or are

the incumbent telcos fooling themselves?  (Note: the preceding 

is not a rhetorical question.)



 + September 28-29, 1998, Washington DC:  International 

   Institute of Communications (IIC) Telecommunications Forum.

   I don't know too much about this one, but it seems to be

   distinguished and international.  For more information,

   contact "Rachel Coldeboeuf" or

   +44 171 388 0671

 + October 14-15, 1998, Toronto ON:  IP Telephony and 

   Voice/Data Convergence.  A distinctly Canadian view.  In 

   many respects Canada is showing the way to the rest of us 

   (e.g., CANARIE, the Canadian national optical network 

   initiative). or 416-927-7936.

 + October 17-18, 1998, near Tokyo, Japan: Stupid Networks

   and the 21st Century Society, hosted by GLOCOM, The 

   Center for Global Communications of the International

   University of Japan.  Many SMART People know the

   perpetually peripatetic Izumi Aizu, and Shumpei Kumon,

   Executive Director of GLOCOM.

 + October 26-29, 1998, Cannes, France: ISP Forum. IIR, 

   Communications Week International and Total Telecom are 

   organizing this most awesome event.

 + November 2-6, 1998, Washington DC: Next Generation

   Networks (NGN98).  Produced by John McQuillan for the

   Business Communications Review crowd.  This is a 

   conference that takes itself very seriously so I will

   leave my fool's hat at home and wear my business suit.

 + November 19, 1998, Denton TX:  Solutions 98!  Sponsored

   by University of North Texas.  I don't have much info

   on this one yet.  Contact Mitch Land


Copyright Notice:

Redistribution of this document, or any part of it, is

permitted for non-commercial purposes, provided that

the two lines below are reproduced with it:

Copyright 1998 by David S. Isenberg -- -- 1-888-isen-com


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Date last modified: 10 Oct 98