The commercials have been on for months, but Cisco Systems’ spots starring Ellen Page still annoy me.
The premise: Juno visits her hometown of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, and sees the town transformed by Cisco video technology.
She goes to her elementary school where an Ellen-of-the-future giddily announces “we’re going on a field trip! To China! China!” The Cisco TelePresence 3000 at the front of the classroom blinks to life and two rooms of 10-year olds scream “Nee-hah” at each other.” Cut to Ellen’s adorable reaction–no doubt she is chagrinned to have her Oscar-nominated star power upstaged by a phalanx of mini Maoists.
Well, what’s wrong with that? First, a TelePresence 3000 costs $300,000 installed (presemuing you have the required infrastructure and telephony system already). Where does any school district get that kind of money?
Actually $300,000 is a bargain because not only does TelePresence compress vast distances, it also transcends time! Yes! You see here in the real world, Nova Scotia and mainland China are exactly 12 hours apart. China is GMT +8, Atlantic Time is GMT -4. I know China’s education policies are aggressive, but do they really keep the wee ones in school 24 hours a day?
Elsewhere in Lunenburg, Ellen visits her old doctor. He’s out of town, vacationing in Copenhagen, but he’s still seeing patients thanks to his own TelePresence set up. Workaholic? Hardly! At an entry cost $80,000, Doc needs all the billable hours he can get. Or do you think Canada’s national healthcare paid for the gear?