Vivek Wadhwa steps back from the women-in-tech debate

Vivek Wadhwa, the academic and researcher who has been a vocal critic of high-tech’s male-dominated culture and a proponent of women’s role in technology,  is stepping back from that fight, according to a post he wrote for the Washington Post.

Wadhwa, who is affiliated with Duke and Stanford, as well as the for-profit Singularity University, has faced criticism — which he denies — that he profited from his advocacy of women in technology. What appears to have been the last straw was a WNYC TLDR podcast, subsequently removed, featuring criticism of Wadhwa by Amelia Greenhall, co-founder of Model View Culture.

Wadhwa complained that he was given no chance to respond. He ended up providing that reaction in a Huffington Post blog in which he pointed readers to a cached version of the podcast, so that listeners can make their own decisions. WNYC did air  Wadhwa’s response to the initial podcast.

A big part of the issue critics have is that they don’t think that men are qualified to speak on the topic of women in technology. Women technologists don’t need some guy to “mansplain” their issues, is the gist. The Financial Times has more on that here.

Note: This story was updated at 9:39 a.m. PST to add a link to WNYC podcast with Wadhwa’s response. 

Today in Cleantech

IBM is one of a class of IT giants that want to become all things smart grid to all utilities. On Thursday morning, Big Blue announced its newest soup-to-nuts smart grid integration contract with Progress Energy. IBM is promising to help Progress integrate demand response, smart meter management, distribution grid management systems and others that are part of the utility’s $520 million project,. Progress operates in the Carolinas and in Florida, and is currently the target of a takeover by Duke Energy — a utility that has been working with Cisco’s smart grid offerings, though it hasn’t yet announced any specific projects. IBM and Cisco are two heavyweights in smart grid services and systems, and they’ve also partnered on a bunch of projects. Microsoft and Oracle have been busy building their own, similar smart grid “ecosystems” to give utilities a hand in the all-important task of making sure all their smart grid technologies work smoothly together. IBM also announced it had added TEPCO from Japan and KEPCO from South Korea to its list of utility partners, highlighting the international reach of its and its fellow IT giants in the smart grid field.

Today in Cleantech

Will the smart cities of the future rise first in China? Big U.S. utility Duke Energy became the latest partner in China’s smart city ambitions this week, saying it would work with Chinese clean energy company ENN Group, which has an “eco-city” project underway in Langfang near Beijing, to find ways to link green energy generation with energy storage, smart building and smart grid systems and electric vehicle infrastructure. That sounds a bit like the broad range of smart grid, EV and consumer energy management work IBM is tackling with China’s massive State Grid Corp. of China and other local partners. Likewise, General Electric has Chinese projects including efforts to improve distribution grid reliability, demonstrate model smart grid technologies and develop smart grid standards. China’s massive and growing urban centers are going to need a lot of help to stay sustainable, making the broad goals of linking up city power, water and gas generation and delivery systems, building management and controls, traffic and parking management and other municipal systems with next-generation communications and IT a pressing task for the government.

Four Reasons to Watch for Power Line Communications

Smart grid watchers spend a lot of time discussing the best options when it comes to networking homes. Does the answer to the debate lie in wiring? A current snapshot of power line carrier technologies suggests this particular option might command more of the smart grid market in the near future.

Is the Opt-Out Model the Future of Home Energy Management?

Even with smart meters and home energy portals, customers want opt-out options for home energy management rather than plans that ask them to monitor energy use every day. Here’s how the opt-out concept can guide startups and IT giants in the home energy management space.

How to Solve Tech-savvy Shortfalls

crisis_phoneWe’ve talked a lot on WWD recently about the tech-savvy of our clients, our site’s users, the public, and, well, everyone … except ourselves!

We might like to think we know it all, and many of us spend innumerable hours reading, researching and learning so that we do actually know a heck of a lot. But for all of us, there are times when things get hairy — times when we wrestle with technology and struggle to get even the (apparently) simplest things done. Although web workers may not like to admit it, we too experience technical challenges from time to time.

When I think about the people I know who aren’t tech-savvy, their responses to tech problems seem to encompass these options:

  1. Employ strong language in questioning the piece of technology’s intentions.
  2. Strike the device in use, or one of its peripherals.
  3. Ask “what kind of idiot designed this thing.”
  4. Call offspring or partners for advice.
  5. Complain to friends.
  6. Hack an improbable and unproductive workaround at best; give up at worst. Read More about How to Solve Tech-savvy Shortfalls

Today in Cleantech

The big smart grid news today is that Duke Energy has tapped Echelon to provide smart meters for a $1 billion project encompassing Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky.  Echelon will also provide Duke with “powerline communications infrastructure,”  essentially Broadband over Power Lines (BPL) for the smart grid.  Despite the tantalizing possibilities, BPL proponents shouldn’t pin their hopes on this limited use case (ferrying energy data back and forth) as a savior for a technology that just won’t die.  I suspect, however, that it won’t stop some from regarding the smart grid as BPL’s white knight.

Is Lixar SRS Poised to Be the Next Smart Grid Heavyweight Thanks to Cisco?

lixarsrsThere’s not much that Toronto-based Lixar SRS will say about its demand response smart grid product. In a phone call with us, Lixar Managing Partner Richard Oh wouldn’t even explain the details of the technology, and said the startup has been operating “completely under the radar.” But if sources we’ve spoken with are correct, Lixar is very much on the radar of utilities as well as Cisco (s CSCO), thanks to the startup’s energy management software. We’ve heard that Cisco and Duke Energy are working with Lixar’s in-home software for their smart grid rollout, and that the startup is working with other utilities such as FPL, Milton Hydro and Direct Energy.

Both Cisco and Duke Energy, which just last week said they’re partnering on a $1 billion smart grid rollout, declined to comment as to whether or not they’re using Lixar’s energy management software. But when we talked to Cisco’s director of business solutions, Mark Miller, last week he told us that while the networking giant will largely be using it own home energy management hardware for the Duke rollout, when it comes to the software, it could look elsewhere. (Cisco is largely responsible for working with third-party network vendors for the smart grid rollout, Duke told us.)
Read More about Is Lixar SRS Poised to Be the Next Smart Grid Heavyweight Thanks to Cisco?