Friday, February 10, 2012

First Smart Grid Documentary Ever !

It's an interesting hang on!

I am fascinated by reality much more than I am fascinated by anything in the world of fantasy.  I mean, think about it for a moment.  In my life I have watched us go from phones with rotary dials and coiled cords that always got bizarrely tangled, tethered to walls via mysterious outlets, to handheld computers that allow you to place video calls, and allow you to have conversations with them as they reply to your commands with a sexy voice.

It seems like humans are capable of building anything if they see a need for it to be built, and that is the most fascinating story ever told...and it has been told many times in all of our lives, and as far as time goes back.

We all build things...create things if you will...for our own reasons, or for those who employ us.  It seems to me that the most interesting things built are built by those who driven by a desire to make something great, or make something better, and not necessarily for a paycheck.

Don't get me wrong...a paycheck is nice, and definitely a necessity in life, but it is rarely the driver to those who want to build great things.  What drives people to build great things is the human need to prove to themselves (and others) that they can create great things, or make other things better.

It's a fascinating story to watch unfold, if you will take the time to discover it.  If you like your iPhone, you really should get yourself a copy of Steve Job's biography, and understand what drove him to create the device that literally changed the way we consume information, navigate, and communicate.

Besides reading books, my favorite way of consuming these fascinating tales of how things came to be as they are today is through watching documentaries...and lot's of them.  I remember the first time I discovered that through Netflix streaming services I could watch literally hundreds of documentaries on nearly as many topics...and so I did (much to the behest of my small children).  It seems like I cannot get enough of them.  There are so many interesting stories to be told, and the documentarians seem to do a fine job of getting past the hype, marketing spin, and myths surrounding so many subjects worth exploring.

So let's fast forward to my security conference.  Back in 2010 my company was hired by a company (a silicon vendor) to produce a whitepaper that outlined the Smart Grid security landscape.  I dove right in, as I normally do, and attempted to capture the essence of the Smart Grid as quickly as I could.  What I soon discovered is that, although the Smart Grid was rapidly evolving, our understanding of the Smart Grid was changing with every passing moment.  The issue of Smart Grid security was particularly challenging to grasp, since the topic is very sensitive in nature to most, and those involved in the Smart Grid security ecosystem still had a lot to learn.  While I discovered pockets of knowledge here and there (e.g. NIST, OpenSG, DHS ICSJWG), there was no place I could go to truly immerse myself in the dialogue that I felt needed to happen.  There were lots of Smart Grid conferences out there, but they covered the topic of Smart Grid security at a very minimal level at best.  There were also lots of security conferences out there, but Smart Grid was only a tiny portion of the event.  I felt that we needed a Smart Grid security event, and created the first Smart Grid security conference that I knew of in the United States.  I was shocked to have around 100 people show up for the first event, and it led to two more after that (and my 4th event is coming up at, which is focused on not only Smart Grid, but also energy infrastructure security).

As someone who was working within the ecosystem,  I was able to bring in some great speakers, and gain the trust and support of some very key players.  I always sought to evolve the conference as the industry evolved, and decided that the next event (upcoming March 27-29 in Irving, Texas) should involve people at the CxO level, and went on a quest to find at least one utility CxO who would speak on the sensitive topic of security.  I have to say, it was a lofty goal and was not easy, but persistence pays off, and I was put in touch with Dave Hallquist, the CEO of the Vermont Electric Cooperative, who agreed to speak.  That, in and of itself, was absolutely fantastic.

What happened next (a few days later) became even more interesting.  Dave's son, Derek Hallquist, is a documentary film maker, and contacted me asking if he could film his father at my upcoming conference, since he had partnered with documentary film producer Aaron Woolf (of "King Corn" fame), and they were going to follow Dave Hallquist around the country as he went from conference to conference interacting with people in the Smart Grid world.  It was to be the first Smart Grid documentary ever created, and they planned to submit it to the Sundance Film Festival.

Needless to say, I was flabbergasted.  Not only was the story of the Smart Grid going to be told in a documentary (and we are still in the very early stages of the Smart Grid), but it was going to break ground at my conference.

This has, of course, unleashed a storm of interest and support from everyone I know in the industry.  Utilities are all thrilled, vendors are all thrilled, and all those who have helped me make this happen are all thrilled.  I was wondering when a Smart Grid documentary was going to come to fruition. I know.

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