FiRe !

Just got back from a very chilly, wet and windy San Diego – I was told again by the locals that this was very unseasonable weather but frankly as the weather has been the same each time I’ve been there, I’ll admit I’m just a tad suspicious !

The event was FiRe 2008 and this was my third time attending – it is the brainchild of Mark Anderson who also runs the SNS Newsletter, reputed to be ‘the most accurate predictive newsletter covering the computing and communications industries’. I’m not in a position to say whether that is true or not, but it is a good read, although sometimes a bit ‘over the top’ in its viewpoint. Like anything else, you just have to sort the wheat from the chaff.

FiRe is short for The Future in Review and invariably Mark manages to collect together a diverse, interesting and opinionated group of people from all walks of business and science. The theme this year was ‘Rapid Response to Climate Crisis’ and I suppose a key differentiator between this conference and others one could go to, is that the attendees here are typically people in a position to actually do something to affect a change. Check out the agenda and list of attendees here . One thing to note is that someone from my industry (oil) was considered by a few attendees to be ‘the enemy’ at this sort of gathering, largely I was told, due to Exxon’s behavior in the US market. I don’t question the sincerity of some of the folks, but it was clear that at the global level, at least a few folks didn’t have their facts straight. A key highlight was seeing the research work under way at CALIT2, which was inspiring. They are doing important work in the areas of visualization, remote imaging and telepresence technologies which will be interesting to track over the next few years as they progress.

The event was again held at the Hotel del Coronado which is supposedly quite famous having been in business for 115 years – the plumbing has been upgraded, but I think the open cage elevator is still the same, and it even had a live elevator operator to push the buttons for you which I haven’t seen since I was in Venezuela. Interesting place – lots of atmosphere, especially when the wind is blowing through the leaky old double hung windows !

One trivial thing I noticed – you are starting to see a lot of Apple products at events like this – I would have guessed perhaps 20% of the crowd were non-Microsoft users. And of the Apple laptops in attendance, many were MacBook Airs. I saw something similar when we visited Cisco’s offices a few weeks ago – a surprising number of Apple products. Interesting.

Over all – recommended.

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