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Robert Metcalfe on Internet Video

January 24th, 2007

Bob Metcalfe invented Ethernet way back in 1973.

Before that, he worked on ARPANET, the forerunner of the Internet.

In addition to being an under-geek, Bob is also a master salesman.

Let me quote something about Bob from Emanuel Rosen’s excellent book "Anatomy of Buzz."

"Bob Metcalfe, father of Ethernet and founder of 3Com, told Scott Kirsner how young MIT engineers often came to him for advice.

After they go through his six-story town home in Boston’s Back Bay, many of them say something like "Wow! What a great house! I want to invent something like Ethernet."

At this point Metcalfe has to sit down and explain, "No, I don’t have this house because I invented Ethernet. I have this house because I went to Cleveland and Schenectady and places like that. I sold Ethernet for a decade."

OK, with that as a background, listen carefully to what Bob has to say about video and salesmanship, especially in the post script at the very end of the interview. Profound stuff.

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  1. Steve
    January 24th, 2007 at 09:44 | #1

    I think you mean, “ueber-geek”. Spell checker probably fixed that one for you…

  2. January 24th, 2007 at 12:32 | #2

    Good stuff Ken, as always. I have to admit, this whole notion of video replacing the need to travel and meet “in person” is already coming through in my business. I live in Europe- communicate and do business with people in the U.S. via video phone (for free) and while not perfect, it IS getting there…
    I have to say- the biggest challenge living overseas and doing business in the US is NOT the communication issue but rather the time difference!

  3. January 24th, 2007 at 12:43 | #3

    Thanks so much Ken, for making us aware of this profound observation by someone who has been virtually correct about predictions all his life..
    He beautifully leads us into his last profound observation with the comment that “Folks said that professionals would never use the PC because they won’t sit at a keyboard and type”.
    That was very excellent salesmanship on his part.
    He shows how we can all use the “breaking the glass of the observers pre conceptions with proof from the past” to get the observer open to new concepts.
    Great video and a great lesson in “how to effectively present a new concept” as well.

  4. January 24th, 2007 at 12:50 | #4

    Great video….
    I really loved the comment about riding the “long tail” of video…
    Video is so cheap today that you can create content for small niche markets and make a profit.
    Try doing that 10 years ago, or even 3!
    -Marc Liron

  5. January 24th, 2007 at 13:45 | #5

    Ken – thank you so much for sharing the Metcalf interview. I work in the corporate arena helping companies tap into the power of video for investor and shareholder communications.
    Bob Metcalf’s analogy about “…more communication and less transportation” hit home for me in a big way! Just last week I posted an article on my blog titled, “Keeping Executives out of Airports” — here’s a link: http://btv-news.com/index.php/43/video-conferencing/
    If you click though to my blog post you will gain some insights into what is happening in the high end video-conferencing arena.
    I make reference to some quotes from a CFO Magazine article which discusses the notion of “… bonding, teaming and meeting face-to-face without getting on a plane …convenience without losing the human experience.”
    And: “…creating a sense that distant colleagues are actually sitting across the table. Your brain sees them as being in the same room. All of this is a way of tricking your mind into thinking you’re actually at an in-person meeting.”
    “It’s the only personalized way to have an executive be on multiple continents on the same day dealing with critical issues.”
    Bottom Lineโ€ฆ More video, less travel!

  6. January 24th, 2007 at 14:12 | #6

    Increased communication equals less transportation.!!
    Never thought of it that way…
    Dave Dutton

  7. January 24th, 2007 at 14:13 | #7

    We are ever so slowly becoming a society of smaller and smaller niches.
    In the future people will interact- via video – only with those that are like minded.
    But then those like minded groups will need to get smaller because there is always conflicting views on some subject.
    Sure doesn’t advance the cause of affirmative action and puts us back a few thousands years.
    Well maybe we are meant to live in tribes.

  8. January 24th, 2007 at 15:23 | #8

    Thanks a ton Ken…THIS IS one of MANY reasons why I LOVE being a System club member.
    As someone who has traveled all over North America conducting workshops over the past 5 years and is now launching an internet based employee training business, this information just confirms I’m on the right track!

  9. January 24th, 2007 at 15:37 | #9

    What an intersting concept~ I’ve just never thought of it along those lines; but of course that is precisely what is happening!
    I have to agree though that the time difference is the next problem to be overcome. I for one, get up at weird times of night to attend webinars. This of course is not a real problem because I work from home and so can ‘chill-out’ at weird times too.
    And it gives my neighbours something to talk about as they think I never sleep. ๐Ÿ™‚
    I do enjoy the info Ken, keep it coming please.

  10. Emerson W
    January 24th, 2007 at 15:57 | #10

    Excellent video. I do much work in health care, and “teleheath” or telemedicine is becoming more and more the wave of the future. For example, in terms of medical training, universities (which tend to be at the cutting edge of technology to begin with) now commonly have “on site” training with INTERACTIVE video feeds to numerous satellite locations, so a resident expert can teach an untold number of folks- with no travel involved. My father, a former CFO-type and now financial advisor, has been using video conferencing in his practice for years– and can be remotely “present with” his clients from anywhere in the world. They use real-time updating, so in addition to video, both parties can see document changes or analytic results as they occur. Ken, many thanks. You’re about second to none in providing truly cutting-edge and thought-provoking information.

  11. Mark Matheson
    January 24th, 2007 at 20:34 | #11

    As someone that came into Computing by accident in 1984 (a rather fortuitous “accident” by the way), I remember constantly hearing the refrain: “They’ll never use those PCs”.
    I always asked “Why?” in my youthful innocence and was told by my co-workers “because they’re toys. PCs are not REAL computers.”
    Well, I must admit it never made any sense to me, so I never believed them and I’ve made a reasonable living thanks to these “unreal” machines.
    Bob Metcalfe definitely knows his stuff and was one of the first names I ever came across. I just wish I had kept track of all his comments over the years!
    Anyway, thanks Bob and thanks Ken for opening the pages to the future.

  12. Prepaid Wireless Direct
    January 24th, 2007 at 22:17 | #12

    Note from Ken: I’m leaving this comment up – minus its promotional links – as an example of a splog (spamming a blog with junk just to get a link on.) It almost sounds like the guy is actually saying something. Almost… My guess is these folks get paid by the comment and have learned how to let the BS flow fast.
    “Robert Metcalfe on Internet Video is the wave of the hot media future! VIDEO AS A SUBSTANCE OF TRANSPORTATION. This is almost intoxicating.
    It’s not how SMART your business are, It’s HOW your businesses are SMART!.
    Think about it. This is all about how to increase traffic by deploying innovative strategies to make retailers more competitive with greater option innovations in technology, that hold the promise of generating additional capital to allow retailers to compete more effectively and allow merchants to be more effective pursuing the detail of retail. ”

  13. January 25th, 2007 at 06:06 | #13

    Thanks again Ken. It was great to hear Bob speaking. Bob and 3Com had a profound effect on my first business because at the start we worked closely with them in the U.K. selling some funny little boxes called Ethernet switches. Originating from a U.S. start-up called Synernetics which 3Com bought the LANplex switch was one of the first corporate LAN switches.
    Personally I have always thought that communications had the power to massively reduce travel and all the implications that went with that – lower costs, less stress, reduced global warming !! etc etc
    What I did think was interesting was that Bob seemed to confirm something that I had suspected which I will call ” The Law of Ten “.
    This law says that it always has taken 10 years for technological innovations to go from emergence to maturity.
    Bob selling Ethernet – 10 years; The Year of the LAN – 10 Years; The growth of VoIP – 10 years; The growth of VideooIP – 10 Years ??
    Video conferencing should be a no brainer but actually it takes a hell of a lot of selling to convince corporates to go this way.
    Bob does deserve congratulations because he invented and sold.
    We are going to have to do the same for Internet Video.

  14. January 25th, 2007 at 08:46 | #14

    I just came across this page from Chris Anderson’s long tail web site. This is about the long tail of I.T. consulting, using internet video as a communication medium.

  15. January 25th, 2007 at 10:51 | #15

    Thank you Ken for the continual reminders of the directions we are going. Because of the effort you are making, it won’t be a case of “ready or not, here we are”. Advancement always has a learning curve. Your stream of information and examples strengthens my motivation to keep getting up 30 minutes early and do the work on my own projects. I know where I’m headed, why I’m going and I’m anxious to “bring it on”.
    Bob’s comments about the fallacy of executives avoiding technological skills has much broader applications. We limit out models about change when the data doesn’t fit our own comfort zone. The smaller our comfort zone is – the more skewed our model of reality is. And, the more inaccurate our model is – the more negative our outcomes become. Remember, we don’t wear out – we rust out.

  16. Jerry Dyas
    January 25th, 2007 at 18:37 | #16

    Excellent Video. A friend of mine is a major investor in a company that created robotics for surgery. The method is called Da Vinci and is used now for prostate surgery. He was telling me that doctors can do this surgery long distance with the robotic arms and video. No need to be in the room. How awesome is that?

  17. January 29th, 2007 at 18:11 | #17

    I agree that lessening the need to travel is going to be a major outcome from web development. I am increasingly working for clients and with associates I have never actually met in person. And time zones can be a help here. My UK “morning” work can be in the inboxes of USA folk by the time they get into their offices. And they carry on working whilst I am in bed so that the results of their labours are in my own box first thing in the morning!
    The next major shake up in my view will in the world of television, as people move to internet based viewing in favour of traditional TV which will decline rapidly! At least in its present form.

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