Monday, December 06, 1999

It's always an Edventure with Esther Dyson

From Poland to Russia to the Waldorf Astoria, Esther Dyson is having an impact on women in the business world. On Monday, December 6th, she was sitting in front of an audience of roughly 100 women at a NY Chapter meeting of Women In Technology International. Ms. Dyson answered a range of questions and spoke of her feelings about ICANN, tokenism, regulation on the net and sustainable business models on the Internet.
Sitting alone in front of the room, Esther probably felt comfortable being the only woman up there. She's usually the only woman on panels and often is a "token." However, she explained that she accepts this role and encourages other women to accept token roles, and to keep inviting other women to participate on panels, committees and company boards. eventually, we may be tokens no longer.
Contrary to many women's experiences in the U.S., regarding this topic, Esther tells us that women in Poland are very powerful and hold many top business positions. Citing the current unsteady state in Russia, Esther says she believes that women are the potential saviors of the country, but she's not sure they'll get a chance to effect any changes. This brought up some differences between technology in Eastern and Western Europe and the United States. We think of all our U.S.-based 'dot-coms' opening offices in London, Stockholm and Munich, and think that Western Europe is doing just dandily. However, according to Esther, the Internet in Eastern Europe is like a miracle and it's development is fostered by state and private firms. Western Europe still has the Berlin Wall to fall, so to speak, and see the depth to which this medium can influence business and commerce. She also brings up the wireless issue, which is far and beyond our nation in terms of development in Eastern Europe, which is used in Eastern Europe as the standard for delivering the Internet.
Griffin Stenger (farmer/director) of The Concept Farm asked a heavily weighted intellectual property question about domain names in cyberspace. Esther acknowledged that domain names act as a unique identity and as a way to find something. The shortage isn't in domain names, actually, but in people's mindshare of them. The "Next Generation Internet" and IPv6 will allow for more IPs, but the same questions of good businesses will remain.
And what does Esther think classifies a sustainable business model? There are lots of them, but the business model is less important than the execution of it. "It's a personality driven business--and businesses are driven by people."
And there you have it from one of the Internet industry's most recognized personalities -- Esther Dyson.