Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Hawaii courting space industry folly again

by Larry Geller

I was just listening to Bytemarks Café, a new program on Hawaii Public Radio (Wednesdays 5-6 p.m., KIPO 89.3 FM or streaming from It will be available as a podcast in a couple of days, and I’ll post the link. It’s well worth listening to. In-studio was host Burt Lum and Ryan Ozawa.

I was interested in the first part. It seems there is to be an event at the State Capitol Auditorium tomorrow pushing Hawaii’s future in the space biz. Oh, well, here we go again. Sure, maybe something will happen, after all, there is some military shooting of satellites that happens from Kauai.

I’ve written about DBEDT’s high-tech folly before. I wouldn’t mind being proven wrong, but so far, while there is some high-tech industry, we are far from a place that has the education, infrastructure, or proximity to research facilities, vendors, or customers to sustain something like a space industry.

The second guest on the program was Guy Kawasaki, the well-known venture capitalist and Apple evangelist. He was raised in Hawaii (but he left…). He knows this place well (maybe that had something to do with his leaving?). So I called in and asked him a question.

I asked about the space plan. A couple of years ago Kawasaki was speaking at the UH business school. Someone, perhaps from DBEDT, I can’t remember, asked about Hawaii’s advantage since it was in middle of the Pacific, between the time zones of the Mainland and Asia. He totally shot that down, pointing out that it was no advantage whatsoever, and that Hawaii was just too far away from anyplace to do the kinds of things they were talking about.

So today I asked him about this space plan. Can Hawaii become the center of the universe for some kind of space industry? Of course, he shot that down too. To paraphrase, while lightning can strike anywhere, we should look at where we have an advantage. For example, we have a better chance at being successful in hotel software development than someone in Indiana in a place with one Holiday Inn.

He asked how we could think of building a spaceport (?) when we can't even build a train that goes from the airport to UH and Waikiki.

I think it was Ryan who then asked him what we should do to be successful in high tech. He said we should develop our engineering schools at UH. Later, he said that will take at least three administrations and maybe 20 (?) years. I guess he meant, don’t hold your breath.

Hmmm... my thinking exactly. How come I'm neither rich nor famous?

Anyway, congratulations to Burt Lum on his new program. And tune in to Disappeared News, I’ll post when the audio is available.



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