Internet Technology Summit showcases local IT sector
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08/31/11 Josh Holton
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At the Tampa Convention Center, Carlos Dominguez talks about the "Intent Society." which has emerged from social networking.


photo by Josh Holton

As the world becomes increasingly connected, local companies are looking ways to ride the waves of changes in the internet technology sector. HP sponsored an Internet Technology Summit in Tampa today.

The internet is possibly the pinnacle of human evolution in communications, and it’s used everywhere in government, health, education, and more. But it’s also a staple in people’s daily routines, allowing people to talk and do business with others around the world. Even in 1964 Arthur C Clark, author of 2001: A Space Odyssey, imagined that a world of instant communication would one day come to be.

But change can be a catalyst for new ideas, and force businesses to become more innovative out of necessity. Carlos Dominguez is the Senior Vice President for the Office of the Chairman at Cisco, a technology company. We said that businesses that embrace change and creativity will find the greatest success.

But even when it seems you can’t go anywhere without seeing someone whip out a shiny smartphone on the street, or tap away at a laptop keyboard in a coffee shop, some folks don’t have internet access yet. As part of the stimulus package, President Barack Obama invested 7 billion dollars in expanding rural wi-fi through public private partnerships. Andy Arevalo works with Rapid Systems, a company that operates with help from the grant.

The Florida Rural Broadband Alliance was created to help poor and rural companies get internet service. They send the stimulus money to companies like Rapid Systems so that they can help out some folks who still pay $100 per month on dial up internet. But Arevalo says most companies don’t want to provide this kind of service.

Many websites like Wikipedia have become resources for basic research, and are designed that users can also contribute content. The website took about 100 million man hours to build, which Dominguez said is the same amount of time Americans spend watching television commercials on a given weekend. Dominguez said this is one of the first times in history that so many people are empowered through technology, and he hopes people will spend more time using the internet for good.

Facebook has also been a key feature in popular uprisings in the Middle East, such as the Jasmine Revolution and Egypt. Also this month Bay Area Rapid Transit in San Francisco cut off mobile phone service in their train stations in an attempt to prevent a planned protest. Matthew Shuchman is the author of “How to Talk to your Android,” and says censorship won’t work.

But Carlos Dominguez also points out that major violent events in the US could have been prevented through closer monitoring of social media, although he also does not promote full censorship.

The US military's high-tech research wing, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, who also helped create the internet, has planned to spend $42 million on the Social Media in Strategic Communication program. The program is looking for ways to detect and counter propaganda on social media networks following the Arab uprising. They say that changes to the nature of conflict resulting from the use of social media are likely to be as profound as those resulting from previous communications revolutions.

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