Henk Slettenhaar has extensive knowledge of communication technology, with a long career in Geneva, Switzerland, and California. Ten years after getting a broadband connection at home, he reads ebooks on a Kindle or an iPad.
Henk joined CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) in Geneva in 1958 to work with the first digital computer. He was involved in the development of CERN’s first digital networks.
His U.S. experience began in 1966 when he joined a team at SLAC (Stanford Linear Accelerator Center) for 18 months to build a film digitizer. Returning to SLAC in 1983, he designed a digital monitoring system, which was used for more than ten years.
For 25 years he tought information technology at Webster University, Geneva. He is the former head of the Telecom Management Program created in fall 2000. He also worked as a consultant for a number of international organizations.
In 1992, with an extensive experience in Switzerland and California, Henk founded the Swiss Silicon Valley Association (SVA) and, since then, has been taking study groups to Silicon Valley, San Francisco and other high-tech areas like Los Angeles or Finland. These study tours include visits to outstanding companies, start-up, research centers and universities, with the aim of exploring new developments in information technology such as the internet, multimedia and telecommunications. Participants have the opportunity to learn about state-of-the-art research and development, strategies and business ventures through presentations and discussions, product demonstrations and site tours.
Henk wrote in December 1998: “I can’t imagine my professional life without the internet. Most of my communication is now via email. I have been using email for the last 20 years, most of that time to keep in touch with colleagues in a very narrow field. Since the explosion of the internet, and especially the invention of the web, I communicate mainly by email. Most of my presentations are now on the web and the courses I teach are all web-extended. All the details of my Silicon Valley tours are on the web. Without the internet we wouldn’t be able to function. And I use the internet as a giant database. I can find information today with the click of a mouse.” (NEF Interview)
The year 2000 was marked by “the explosion of mobile technology. The mobile phone has become for many people, including me, the personal communicator which allows you to be anywhere anytime and still be reachable. But the mobile internet is still a dream. The new services on mobile (GSM) phones are extremely primitive and expensive (WAP = Wait and Pay).”
Henk wrote in July 2001: “I am experiencing a tremendous change with having a ‘broadband’ connection at home. To be connected at all times is so completelely different from dial-up. I now receive email as soon as it arrives, I can listen to my favorite radio stations wherever they are. I can listen to the news when I want to. Get the music I like all the time. (…) The only thing which is missing is good quality real time video. The bandwidth is too low for that.
I now have a wired and a wireless LAN in my home. I can use my laptop anywhere in the house and outside, even at the neighbors and still being connected. With the same technology I am now able to use my wireless LAN card in my computer when I travel. For instance, during my recent visit to Stockholm, there was connectivity in the hotel, the conference center, the airport and even in the Irish pub!
Ten years later, in June 2011, Henk explained: “I have always followed the development of ebooks with much interest, as a professor in communication systems and an organizer of study tours in Silicon Valley. I didn’t use them much during 40 years, because of the lack of progress in reading devices. I never liked reading a book on a computer or PDA. Now, with tablets like the Kindle of the iPad, I am finally reading ebooks. I see a huge expansion of digital reading with tablets that are easy to use and with a very large choice of ebooks thanks to electronic commerce and companies like Amazon.”
What is he working on right now? “I am a serial entrepreneur who is creating a start-up in the field of mobility. I use the internet all the time to find partners and ideas. We also use online books to learn the art of innovation!”
Copyright © 2011 Marie Lebert
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