“Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” wrote George Santayana, a 19th century poet and philosopher.
In the past 10 years, business transformed by technology has been on an incredible ride. We have seen the Internet come from the tool of a few specialists to touch large segments of businesses and society. We have seen the dot-boom followed by the dot-bust. We have seen the now well-documented business ethics scandals featuring Enron, Andersen, WorldCom, Tyco, and so many others. Some of their executives are now in prison, and more trials are coming up.
What do we learn from all of this? Some will argue that technology was over-hyped in the first place, and we can now safely ignore it. Others will say that all business leaders are crooks and not to be trusted. These are reactions but not lessons from history.
In this issue, we feature two conversations with technology pioneers whose work has changed the face of business. The first is with Vinton Cerf, sometimes called the “Father of the Internet” for his early 1970s work on telecommunications protocols. Vint continues his work in technology and helps us look forward to new developments as well as back for a perspective on the Internet.
The second is with software pioneer Dame Stephanie Shirley from England, who changed her name to Steve when she couldn’t get people to respond to letters from a woman! Her work in selling software in the early 1960s when most people were giving it away truly changed the industry. But she is not just a “techie.” She also broke ground in creating a trusted organization that valued people.
The reviews, forum, and other columns in this issue all focus on this single theme—let’s get the right lessons from history so we don’t have to repeat them!
As usual, we look forward to your response.