Accelerating Innovation Archives

May 6, 2002

Accelerating Brand Innovation

Brand Innovation practices are a core competence for today’s organizations and a key driver for future success. Michael Schrage: “Tomorrow’s innovators will invest more in playing with prototypes, modeling marketplaces, and simulating scenarios because that will become the best way to create new value and profitably deliver it to customers. Innovative models inspire innovative behavior.”

"Unless we change the way we think and what we value, we will just do the old things more effectively in the future…… Is this enough? Will the future ever really be the same?"

Increasingly the connection between “living the brand promise” and connecting with tomorrow’s markets means every employee must learn to live at least 15 minutes ahead of the brand. The traditionally inwardly focused closed organization is dead. Right now organizations must become more externally centric, more connected, and aware of how to remain that step ahead of the customer. This requires new approaches to prospecting and discovery.

Today storytelling, narratives, and simulations are created to challenge our assumptions and provide the counter-intuitive insights that drive innovation. Truly effective approaches don’t predict the future but envision possible environments that lead to new understandings and better questions. This is the learning from Scenario planning – where planning as prediction is rejected in favor of accelerating learning.

As products and services combine – the experience economy requires a deeper understanding of motivations, interactions and emerging connections. For brands this means telling stories to develop and assess prototypes, and using new objects, and artifacts to tell stories. Thus Brand Innovation revolves around our ability to interrupt and test new ideas in an ongoing simulated strategic conversation.

When Napster enabled the music loving community to begin learning faster than the incumbent recording industry, it was another early warning signal that the rules of the game have changed.

The lesson for organizations innovating their Brands is to accelerate their prospecting and discovery process by connecting their leading edge creative thinkers internally and externally and then sensing and simulating for new opportunities. Prospecting lies at the heart of securing new opportunities. Traditionally organizations relied on consultants to cross the boundaries – “bring the outside-in”. Now the networked world provides a plethora of network and boundary crossing methods (from messenger to Morpheus), yet few of these are targeted or result in accelerated organizational learning.

Brand innovation requires innovative brand networks. Smart companies are consistently building new connections. From knowledge management and external audits to extracting tacit knowledge using panels, learning journeys and facilitated exchanges. Still knowledge only exists in context and in flows. We should all ask: What makes more sense to you? Internally redesigning prototypes and specs or wind tunneling new concepts / experiences through alternate environments created with your leading edge creative thinking network? At New Canoe our proprietary prospecting & discovery practices lead to better brand futures and new sustainable brand innovation practices.

May 5, 2003


Abe Burmeister recently comments:  "I think the key is to look at the blog *as a path towards a better designed conversation space*, not as the conversation space itself. I just don't see conversation flourishing to its full potential in the highly owned and branded environment of the blog."

To which I agree! He draws the metaphor of the blog as a home a home for thoughts, invites, the occasional dinner party etc. And yes for the replacement for the personal page. Well I'd sort of like to go out tonight!

Ton Zijlstra writes on the Tipping Point. He also looking for a meme to seed. Let me suggest "Blog Coops" or "Blogops" or perhaps as you will see below "Jazz-Blogging" 

It also reminded me of a  Dave Winer post i saw today contrasting a Barlow point of view with "These are utilitarian things, they simply facilitate a higher level of communication." Maybe but we have to be "collectively involved" and engaged for them to really matter. 

From my perspective most blogging today seems highly personal, the number of public community or cooperative blogs very limited. Of those personal blogs I see two kinds.  First the blog done for primarily for intellectual interest, and second the blog that is part of an economic engine. While I see examples where coding solutions and new memes spread rapidly what clients want when it comes to thought-leaders is a safe place to engage.  So blogs aren't just thinking tools or communicating tools, they are also learning tools.  It just how we apply them and how we create access.  For them to really work some new business models must emerge around them. 

Earlier today I posted on Lifecast.  One of its secrets was the "club", the limited role the safe environment.  So if we want a trusted blogging engine we should assemble a few pieces and test it.    

Here's some quick notes of what I'd like to work towards trying out. 

  • Personal blogs (perhaps a category eg Collective Intelligence).  Each contributor posts two or three times per week. 
  • Fed to a private aggregated community blog I think the max number is about 15.  A subscription - invite only community of approximately 150. 
  • Defined by some key themes.  This extended think tank harnesses the nature of the jazz club.  Clearly the group plays in real-time.
  • Members can comment and become private blogger too if they desire although it won't be necessary.  There's also a message area and capability to share profiles round the group. 
  • It has a profile component too. The social capital exchanged is probably as important as the intellectual stimulation and the technology participation. 
  • Individual blogger still get the benefit of promoting their external self. Blogging externally they can enables new meme and connection to be fed into the blogop (for blog cooperative)

What are the benefits.  Safe access to thought leaders.  Top executives daily news feed, are part of conversation.  The conversation will connect and introduce them to others.  Their views and the views of others stays within the community.  We will meet as a community 3 or 4 times in the year.  There will be a core underlying research program. 

The tools are right there in front of us.  Who has examples of where it is being done already? Always On doesn't cut it as an example. 

Why will they buy?  The same reason the brand manager wants a 24/7 focus group at their fingertip.  Here's the chance to run some ideas, lines of inquiry, test uncertainties, in real-time...... beta testing.  Nothing like having 150 experts at your fingertips.  More importantly the trust and reciprocity that is established means everyone benefits.

Similarly, for key contributors -- their efforts will be sponsored!


"Jazz-Blogging" as a possible meme for colective collaborative intelligent blogging.  What clients want when it comes to thought-leaders is a safe place to engage.  My individual blogs are not safe or maybe too public.  We need to create safe access environments. Probably as part of a collaborative blogging environment. Perhaps then it more like an extended dinner party in the Hamptons.


June 3, 2003

Radical Innovation & COP's

Congratulations George on your paper "Radical Innovation with Communities of Practice" being circulated by the Knowledge Board

"It is that shift in the basis of value creation, what propelled communities of practice (CPs) in the limelight as collective players with largely untapped potential for radical innovation."  

The topic had us chatting in France.  If you've not seen it download and join the conversation. 

June 18, 2003

Collaborative Spaces - Transforming Innovation Capital

How might the growing interest in linking digital identity, blogging wiki's, RSS feeds etc evolve?  How might the emergent functionalities in these tools benefit our evolution and daily experiences. How will they combine and spiral to augment our collective intelligence? How will they reframe the KM knowledge innovation paradigm? For most companies it's happening more rapidly than they think. 

There's a saying "the future is here  - it is just unevenly distributed" (William Gibson). This couldn't be more true when we start to apply it to emerging lightweight knowledge innovation tools and combine it with what we know about mobility, decentralization, hyperconnectivity, online identity etc. 

Yet using the metaphor "standing in the future" we almost inevitably find ourselves reframing the space we compete in today. 

I facilitated the chart below about three weeks ago before going somewhat silent (at least on my blog) when exploring early ideas for transforming a "systems integration business" into an innovation engine.  As the tools paradigm developed we kept spiraling back to the benefits. Each iteration breaking a new frontier, each new technology providing new functionality.   

It's a WIP (work-in-progress) and making the point that all these technologies are already available they are not just effectively connected yet.  For the most part it will be bloggers reading this.  Some have the curiosity to ask:  Is corporate blogging just noise or part of a greater shift.  What about wiki's and the broader aspects of augmented social networks? Etc. 

For my part I've seen no clear model of where corporate blogging is heading.  Yet I firmly believe that blogs are part of the emerging value creation spiral.  The recent wave on posting on wiki's, forums, corporate blogs reaffirm this interest.  Similarly thoughts keep emerging about creativity and innovaton. The underlying thread is a move from systemic innovation to transformative innovation (about which I will define separately).

A few years ago Tom Stewart wrote "Intellectual Capital" and more recently followed it up with "The Wealth of Knowledge".  I'd suggest if we really think about the chart above -- IC /KC merely set us on a pathway.  The (not new) idea of "Collective Intelligence" is just now beginning to reframe how we think about capital and the types of organizations.  We now know that organizations will increasingly compete through their collaborative networks. While it's not just asking better questions -- it's the capability to capture and harness the hidden ones.  More peer driven, more decentralized; almost certainly. 

It's transforming innovation capital (lets not get hung up on definitions of Capital here) simply because what we are now after is hidden.  It is primarily social and these new tools are helping us to uncover the wealth that was always there, always undisclosed, tacit unless tapped, and too infrequently accessed.  Even a small start would include employee who's thoughts or interests you never before knew, to teams doing collaborative manual building, and spontaneous connections enabled through who we know in trusted networks. 

This is nothing less than the beginning for framing tools and an evolutionary path to a  radical shift in the collective intelligence of teams, communities of practice and organizations.

There could be much more to this post.  A little encouragement and a few questions and I might just get back into writing again. 

A little over a week ago I had the pleasure of listening to Doug Engelbart at the Planetworks conference.  Doug's summed up his life's work for the conference: "As much as possible boost mankinds collective capability for coping with complex urgent problems." 

As he developed his view of the world I realized there were similarities to the chart above  -- originally tracing to conversations I'm in with George Por which started and were furthered in France a few weeks ago.  In Doug's chart the frontier (cloud in mine) is constantly changing.  His concepts which I'm still discovering include... The "Hyperscope", "NIC's" - network improvement communities and "DKR's - dynamic knowledge repositories.  They fit easily within the above. 

One word of caution.  This is a somewhat generic chart.  Organizations wanting to explore this space must develop their own pathways augmenting their current competences and enhancing the culture of their organization.  Then having the "foresight" to take this forward begins with a few small bets or prototypes and a few committed individuals.  The key to motivating individuals to participate is creating the clear need for change and building the excitement for what the future might bring. 

Augmented Social Networks

What’s Coming? --- Augmented Social Networks:

“Could the next generation of online communications strengthen civil society by better connecting people to others with whom they share affinities, so they can more effectively exchange information and self-organize? Could such a system help to revitalize democracy in the 21st century? When networked personal computing was first developed, engineers concentrated on extending creativity among individuals and enhancing collaboration between a few. They did not much consider what social interaction among millions of Internet users would actually entail. It was thought that the Net's technical” architecture need not address the issues of "personal identity" and "trust," since those matters tended to take care of themselves.

This is a clip from the Linktank paper posted as part of the Planetwork conference.  Like the Smarter, Simpler, Social paper referred to earlier on this blog here it is worth reading.  For me together they provide a useful entry point into thinking about where we are going.  For me these two papers are further warning indicators that reaffirm my belief that radical innovation is being redefined by those that use ASN related tools, within their organizations, CoP's and simply with their circles (business, professional, social). 

I also just re-read a post from my earlier blogging days on Radical Strategy Innovation. (One that gave me some concern at the time for mouthing off.)  Looking at it today and thinking about the tools I've become more accustomed to using and participating in I believe the key messages still apply.  Five points for Radical Strategy Innovation.

  1. First organize your lines of inquiry to be network and community centric.
  2. Then collaborate to create compelling friction points that give your community "an innovation voice"!
  3. Seek out "hidden" connections - collaborative responsive highly connective networks are important to framing the fullfillment of unarticulated needs.
  4. Build-in collaborative community skills into facilitating markets - value creation. 
  5. (New / revised) Add to the collective and spiritual values -- without them you will have a system rather than a transformation.


In a world of increasing hyperconnectivity, how will augmented social networks impact on innovation? Is your current dogma for Radical Innovation collaborative and spiritual enough to make a meaningful transformation?  How will your communities best be served -- strategically and through what architecture to facilitate the change?


June 30, 2003

Social Software and CI?

Is the current Social Software meme really just part of something much larger? Will the ideas behind Collective Intelligence shape the future development and direction? Sometimes I look at something and intuitively know there's something relevant but perhaps not ready for transmission or simple to translate into plain english.  I have a suspicion tonight that Britt Blaser, Flemming Funch and Xpertweb may just be an illustration - an early indicator of this style of model. 

From the University of Ottawa and the emerging Collective Intelligence Lab.  The top half of the chart represents our collective Intellectual Capital in the virtual world.  Contrast this with the lower quadrant which more closely represents the collection of structural capital, social capital and process capital found in the physical world. 

I find this model interesting for two reasons. 

  • First there is no real mention of financial or customer capital.  This is a real departure and a major shift re "collective". If delight exists... then it is in the top half...and experienced on a higher plain.  
  • The second, is more an observation.  The debate around social software continues to focus too often on the physical manifestations rather than the virtual - spriitual elements that enable - augment and benefit real collective intelligence.  

Note the following charts can both be found via the link above. 

This second chart suggests for each pole a two way relationships.  While this looks incredibly complex I believe it could be simplified into a short questionnaire and then provided in a radar format as a development tool.   

One item is certain.  Unless they all interplay together --- spiraling value creation is a pipedream.  There is also an underlying thread in these postings.  Pierre Levy talks about informational capitalism which includes; Cooperative competition Competitive advantage to the inventors of the most cooperative games. Well Xpertweb is a cooperative game.  While contrasting this with conscious consumption controlled by a transparent cybermarkets could bring with it unexpected communism.

This is worth following for: Knowledge Innovation, Strategic Foresight, human tools development and the evolution of our desires.

July 17, 2003

Putting Execs on Blogging Steroids

There is an old joke about how many people it takes to change a light bulb. So.... How many bloggers do you need to change a company? How many newreaders (subscribers in a co) do you need to change information habits?

How do you seed the change? How many should you start training. Who goes in that initial learning to blog team after the blogging briefing... where you said... "Hey that's a great idea!" lets train some bloggers.  How do we start?

Working though newreader solutions was just one thing I wanted to speed up. I can see I'm still getting good input on that score. I wanted better content examples and the capability to answer the "corporate" question. How do we seed the movement? Alternatively, if you are already a blogger in a business how do you determine the tipping point is near? How do you decide that blogging may really be ready to rock your corporate world?

These questions started by following Sharpreader, Feedster, (which provides smart methods to search blogs for information) and Technorati that replenished my memory on particular posts tracing back to posts in late June found again by exploring Marc's post on AOL Journals. Frankly I don't see the direct connection in the article to what I'm writing about here. Still I'm sure AOL will integrate news with both e-mail and IM options (Already begun!). Still something connected and fired some neurons from the above questions to link it to the rules below.

John Patrick reports he's met with "quite a few" senior executives of major corporations in the past week or two "but not one had even heard of blogging. One said, 'blobbing?'..."[Corante: aa Corante on Blogging]

While writing a blog is a whole different area and much is being written about it, i will focus here on how we might get more executives to start reading blogs.  The 'why' is obvious to bloggers - the RSS feed is an amazing tool for aggregating news from sources of your selection and promises to get only better in its width, depth and "user-friendliness".  The benefit - in allowing the reader to stay on the cutting edge of thought and development in his or her area of specialization and interest, due to the real-time online reporting and discussions.  This becomes a more dynamic source, as a result.   The 'how' is the greater challenge, as the 'why' may not be perceived unless experienced first-hand.  [Conversations with Dina]

This reminds me of a rule... 1-9-90 which was recently shared with me, and one other. What I'd call the square root rule. I'd like to know how well these will stand up? Lets set the context and then test them.

RULE ONE 1-9-90. From gaming a variation on the 80/20 type rule. 1% really make it happen in a community being responsible for most of the postings and activity. Group 2 the next 9% are on the active fringe, doing a little more than lurking with infrequent posts and forays. While the final 90% are simply lurkers... along for the ride and information. So the theory goes... that for every person that a Group 1 can convert from Group 2 the expanded community grows by one hundred.

RULE TWO Square Root Rule. To change a company requires the square root of the number of employees involved. So 10 employees can change a company of one hundred, and 32 to change a company of 1000. Clearly it helps to have certain people involved from top to bottom. Still it provides a starting point. In the company of 100 they may not all have to work full time. In the company of 1000 some may have to work full time on the project.

So what might these type of rules mean to blogging and newreaders?

Starting with RULE TWO. In a company of 100 we train 10 people to start blogging. In the larger 1000 person organization we might start by creating a blogging program for some 30 people. In each case these will be enough to change the way information begins flowing. The bloggers will also need some self-help forums and will likely expand this support dimension further. In the 1000 person company that is 3% of the workforce! 

Then applying RULE ONE, we require each blogger to recruit ten subscribers to set them up with a list of internal and external subscriptions to begin.  I'd guess at least 50% internal feeds to begin. The bloggers having done the first training course and begun blogging will now facilitate some simple NewsReader training sessions. No doubt some employees will recruit the same subscribers and others may even resort to some external subscribers. The bloggers will set up an obligation with the subscribers to provide comments to their blogs and they will run some " personal feedback" sessions with their subscribers to build their understanding of what works and what doesn't.

The newsreading subscribers can personalize and add to their feeds at will. They will also have access to the aggregated corporate feed. From an early audit... and discussion some key blogging categories will have been set up and standardized. Now Executives wanting to find out about project X can search their news reader if there is not a direct category for it. A senior exec asking the questions... "What do we know about product X or company y?" (will get not only internal feeds but insights into external feeds that are being watched by employees. Knowing who is tracking what will quickly become more visible from the blog posts.

I'd predict that early subscribers are likely to become bloggers, and the thus it's the exponential impact of the newsreader that will change how information is shared. Those are just the early light bulb moments.

However let's take it one step further.  What happens when rule one is applied to an organization where everyone blogs?  We get the innovative solutions found in beta software from the 9 factor (comments and referrals), and we get the brand commitment factor found in the organizational lurkers.  To put that in context... Every employee is worth 100 advocates for the brand.  Can't think of any businesses that have that sort of reach currently.  Now is that a stretch?

September 11, 2003

P2P Telephony Should we SKYPE

Try SKYPE out. When I've made a few more calls I'll report. If you are thinking about the future of IM, social networks, progressive disclosure, disruptive innovation and thought the founders of Kazaa were smart. This will probably confirm it. Read their Skype discription here. Provides some interesting strategy insights. Wish it would work with my Mac based friends.

Evan caught this:  Skype.  P2P telephony.  From the Dutch developers of FastTrack (the system that powers KaZaA).  In my opinion, this is the first true legitimate application of P2P technology.  Next step:  a pro version with call waiting, voicemail, etc.   I am going to try it out to see if it does provide the quality level claimed.  If you are on, let me know so we can try it out.  Also, I wish they had skins for this so it won't look bad on my desktop (nobody needs an ugly ICQ-like system on their desktop). [John Robb's Weblog]

September 12, 2003

Skype Accelerates --- Start Tracking Growth.

There's plenty more out there on Skype today. The number of users online has doubled (from my observations) in a day. Currently there are 10049 users online. This is up from the 4500 approx early yesterday....... I noted yesterday. They claim 160000 downloads. So at this point probably close to 10% of the Skype population is staying online.

How many users will they need to have more computing power than the traditional switching networks? With 10000 online now.. Only 5% to 10% are actually staying online. I'd guess we can expect this to increase. If not it suggests consumers are using a particular strategy with the system perhaps wary of being connected P2P all the time. Eg... Use a current IM client turn on and switch to Skype for Voice. From a brand point of view the associations with Kazaa are both good and bad and I'm going to address that separately. Why isn't the % participating higher? Well many will have problems with mics and sound. Others won't have got their buddies on yet. Not everyone does it immediately. Easily fixed (get a headset) see the helpful hints below.

Things that ... make you go hmm

160,000 Skype downloads in 12 days Skype helpful sound tips
Here's a Miss Cleo prediction: Skype is going to be huge. Yesterday I tested (while working on a few technical support issues actually), chatting with several folks on both broadband and dialup and I remain very impressed with the sound quality. Remember, it's still beta software, and thus there are some kinks, but it is catching on fast. Here's a few helpful tips:

Stowe Boyd also reports on his take at Corrante IM I've also received a number of comments and trackback about "Spyware" concerns (any proof anyone?) and comments read the Eula. I've read the Eula - as much as one reads it... What should I be scared of there? Where is Larry Lessig on this? John Robb remains equally enthused.

Seem worthy to note... that from my perspective this is another one of those "blogging accelerates knowledge sharing" examples. I went to IMPlanet this am. Looking to see what they might be advising. Nothing! There is an IM conference in less than a month. Enterprise focus or not I think they should be hustling to "think outside the box". Bloggers are beating the papers on this one! Combined Skype and blogging demonstrates how viral the "knowledge exchange" really is.

My rec... keep watching feedster on this one.

Skype Users are Talking

Interesting just tracking Skype quotes... and thinking about the grass-roots activity that is happening.

When VoIP via P2P technology hits a point where you can call friends using a headset, PDA, and Skype software, using a wireless network, existing phone services will feel the financial hurt. I doubt P2P will kill either cellular or landline phone service, but it will certainly shift some dollars from the pockets of businesses that have far too much control over the way we communicate - I can't wait. refer
Matches my experiences round the world.
Me and a friend gave Skype a try and I must say its amasing. He was on a ISDN in South Africa and I was on my ADSL in London. My firewall blocked all incoming connections and it worked a charm. Sound quality was comparable to a phone if not better. I am. [refer]
It's not hard to check out.
Ive been seeing stuff about Skype, so I had to check it out- and Im pretty impressed. Its like instant messaging, but with telephone quality voice. Instead of getting pinged with a Gotta second? IM, your computer will ring. You... [refer]
A foreign interpretation I can't read.....
Devo a Mantellini la scoperta di Skype, programmino che ormai da qualche tempo utilizzo con gusto per telefonare via Internet, realizzato dalla ban.. (85 words) [refer]
Around the world and probably more impactful than music sharing
Dring! Dring! Dring! SKYPE! Des concepteurs de Kazaa. Téléphonie IP et P2P. What kind of impact do you think Skype... [refer]

Living Skype the Brand

While Skype founders are probably scrambling with what should be an overnight success, they are running some branding risks and have made some crucial target audience assumptions. Unfortunately, "beta" isn't an excuse. The consumers targeted with this product will ignore the "beta" label. I'm just going to put a few piece into play that suggests Skype must quickly become a marketing-centric organization.

Skype's consumer base is morphing by the hour. Each registration - will impact on the community that uses Skype. Living the Brand "Skype" requires more than the initial wow fun - it works. I will try and illustrate this. I'll be brutal. The founders of Kazaa, (an egocentric pitch if I ever heard one) bring you... That's a techno-centric pitch. Lets face it Kazaa created both the platform for this step and dangers particularly perceptions. Techies will take notice.. while my mother is not interested. Trading music - has a real economic incentive for young people. Kids do it. They can't afford CD's or would in fact rather put their money on other entertainment items. I think however the target for Skype is much broader. It's not 12 year old that are trying it out. Telephone calls have no cost for them. This big bold link to Kazaa is unnecessary. Get rid of it. There's a much bigger idea under it all and the founders must build real sympathy for it.

It begins with "living this brand" There's no marketer on the company list! There are already a number of branding problems. First we have (as too often with tech products) no consumer stories. The closest we get to smiling faces on the main screen are these two mug shots in the company section. Hey great they look like rock stars.... Well no. These photos in the company section are almost scary. They may want to change the world. However, that will require color and a smile. They must appear "pleasant" and "approachable". Some simply manufactured warmth would help. Change these photos quick!. They may work on Hot or Not; they aren't appropriate here.

It's true there is a lot of good word of mouth out there. I've been tracking it. People really seem to get it. So why start kicking at the founders? Simply because the best emerging online community I know for having a "personal" face is Adrian Scott's Ryze. From day one he cared about his friends. This is in stark contrast to the mistakes being made at Friendster. For Skype to be really successful it must be more than technology or "disrupting" the old phone system. It's about welcoming in tomorrow. We are in the age of P2P telephony. How people share in these riches will define the potency of the solution.

So what scares me about this initial beta techno incarnation is I (the consumer/customer) have no way of knowing if these guys care about anything more than the tech or the likely money they are going to make in the future. At the moment it could go either way. I'm talking about how names are filled in! I'm ranting about instructions on filling profiles. Profiles are central to this emerging community. I'm suggesting that the founders make it clear. I have have checked. THE FOUNDERS (full name) ARE UNLISTED! I can't call them. What sort of communications society are they suggesting we support? Are they scared to take calls? For this to really work... everyone has to want to be always on... like the phone system.

Now to be more fair... They won't be able to take millions of calls. Still an old computer with an away message would work. Or even have a PA answer some! Still there are many CEO's that can still list their home number. It's called the phone book. Here we have two founders that may well be able to create a P2P directory of everybody on earth. With some smarter technology it will enable progressive levels of disclosure. The path is fairly clear. So this... PERSONAL DISCLOSURE thing is important. They are not making it easy enough to decide.... what's my name and how do I share details about myself. The assumption is people know how to fill in the form. Actually they don't. Every community has it's approach. Just look at Ryze vs.. Tribe. ort Yahooprofile pages. Unfortunately the only Skype example on the home page lists Skype_lover and Skype_rocks as well as Catherine etc.. It's not funny and may suggest the wrong connotations. Just simply a risk a smart marketer wouldn't take in packaging a product for mass popular consumption. Clean it up quick! Share more thinking about the "design" of the profile. From my perspective some of it seems a little premature. My phone numbers??? Talk to me personally. Tell me how to be "smart", with-it and techno savvy.

This also reflects an issue of understanding who the target audience is. It's not those that change their IM name everyday on AIM. It is not your average Kazaa user. For a phone system to work we need some naming consistency. This is going to be a real interesting emergent phenomena. It is no wonder the Eula says... we can't handle emergency calls. By the way "Operator" is taken and is not listed. In some fun and jest I called up the top Brands
and started trying to register them as my number. Coca-Cola, Microsoft, down to number 7 Disney... which registered for me. So looks like we are going to have a pretty interesting phone book. Should I auction "Disney" on eBay? Ebay users will adopt this too! This won't be so problematic if we realized and accepted that 1-800 calls are made all the time. If you are a company... why not let your operators use this system. (ah a new backend business for someone) . However I was thinking target audience. Who's likely to move first? Who will be the initial users?

Bloggers are a pretty good bet. I liked John Robb's comment suggestion today. I just don't know how to do it. Internationally connected by words... often too expensive to talk. Ryze is another community where "phone costs" limit exchanges. So it is not only communicate P2P Telephony... which seems like maybe just a new thing... go global with the thought. International calls are free! It's more where this is placed on the home page and the story around it. In America long distance state to state is increasingly just a fixed fee of $15 or thereabouts every month. It's not a motivator. International calls still add up. Then there is the college student on a mobile. Wants to protect some minutes. Skype will be all though the college dorms. The College students will get their parents on it. Something they could never do with Kazaa (with rare exceptions). "Hey Mom! Here's a telephone for your PC!" The aged can then push youth back to some sense of talking....

Now these older users are more concerned. P2P is bad. It says so in the news and with the RIAA. (Get the Kazaa references off the home page!). The second part of the culture equation is the culture of abundance and how all of us collectively can create a better communication system. Setting the stage for this is the personal guarantee from the founders that they've designed the system so I don't have to fear leaving it on all the time. It won't slow down my computer and gee... you know Seti at home we will work it so we only use latent capacity. Hey Seti is good right! They could do even more if they started commiting to a long-term "world communications" behavior charter.

Which brings me to the color choice. Purple --- a mixture of red and blue. Strongly associated with relationships and identity. Purple is the colour of magic and deep emotions. This seems like an interesting color direction to go down. So let's use it to talk the magical relationships. The elimination of cost barriers to good conversation. It's first iteration... fairly naked by comparison to other IM clients. Now the downside...Too much purple is probably immature or too erotic. It's a great color for school girls - it's not in this rendition that the color for the worlds next phone company. And that is where the branding can get really interesting. It's P2P telephony... and Skype is really after magic seamless connections, and for that it's perfect. At least I can see ways to grow it.

Then there is the name. How is it pronounced? It may not be clear to everyone. Let us know... in the story on the site where it came from, what it should inspire.

Then tell me the story of why it will overturn IM. Why ringing is more natural? Why this solution is both less intrusive and more efficient! Jeez I'm not going to write that for you too. What you need is a marketer who realizes that this is the next eBay. You need someone focussing on the message, holding the business true to a set of core values that rest round people, relationships and innovative communications. It was easy for people to go from Napster to Kazaa. It will be easy to get people to go from IM to Skype. Thankfully IM is never mentioned on the home page. At the core... Skype is not beholden to the big company, but the emerging community.

Now my final little freebee!. The receiver on the phone the hang-up/pickup should always on top. As Skype is not IM the little headset icons shold be at the top. Plus the name... area to put one in and dial.. just under that. The file etc. and tabs all at the bottom! Afterall it is about turning the world upside down. Why should I scan to the bottom of an IM looking box to see that it's phone centric! Come on! Plus... on the useability stakes.. it is either minimised or in the bottom right of the screen.

I could go on... I must stop.

September 13, 2003

Skypdicted - Skypers - Evolve Quickly

Ah emerging words and phrases. I see 12349 Skype users online now and just took up TDavid on his Call Me invite. He's put into practice what John Robb said you could do yesterday. Now I understand just how simple this is to do!

I may just find the Skype logo and put it on my main blog page later. For now you can "Click n Call" Me on Skype

Several searches to this blog for Skype information, not to mention when I first looked at Skype this morning I saw 11,000+ users online which was the most I've seen online to date. And as of the time I'm writing this there are 11,507...."
skypers (pronunciation: sky-purse) - people who call you the moment before you get out of your chair to do something else. A skype equivalent of eBay snipers. [TDavid]

We also exchanged info round post #456 from Russell Beattie's Notebook.

Someone needs to wire this up with my mobile phone. I mean *now* not some day in the future. Here's how I see it. First a native Symbian app on the phone accesses the Bluetooth connection to a PC and streams voice each way. At 1650 bytes/sec for GSM-encoded voice, Bluetooth has more than enough bandwidth to handle it. This would allow your Symbian device to act, believe it or not, as a phone. On the PC side, a Bluetooth server sits and acts as a gateway between the serial port and the P2P voice app.

Now - I don't want the client to just be a dumb headset with a mike. I want to be able to start the app up, get access to my normal address book, choose someone I know has the same setup, and to attempt to make the call via BT. Now if the call doesn't go through, I want it to swap to a normal GSM connection and then dial that one.

David also runs a weekly live broadcast for his Scripting School. By next week Skype will have enhanced his service for his international followers. Also had it confirmed that you can't go in and hack the ring file. Customized ring tones will be a pro option!...

September 14, 2003

I've got to Skype - Bye!

I just sent a note to a number of friends and colleagues around the world. Earlier I also put a note on Ryze and also today to put a Skype link on my blog. Talking to more readers might nurture this blog along. Don't know if it works yet. Distance, locations and cost simply get in the way. I'm hoping by tomorrow I'll have a few more on my friends list. It will add to Skype's utility factor and make it more valuable. So I'm doing my thing today to spread the virus.

I also connected with Mum & Dad in New Zealand for the last hour. We had a magic chat as if they were in the next room although I’m in San Francisco! I wonder if Dad is currently the oldest user (75) on Skype? My mother couldn't’ believe the sound quality and wanted to dial me right back. Up till today she didn't believe in this Internet thing and all the e-mail. From my perspective - we may have turned a corner.

I've also see additional pointers that starting off with no friends presents a difficulty. Mitch makes a good point about useablity in his post. It is in the little details. From how we use profiles to our first screens. Some committed souls (not me) would man a help desk I'm sure. Could be easily done via the Skpye website.

UI insults Designing application interfaces that make people want to immediately jump in and use the software is an art. I've just downloaded Skype, the hot-right-now peer-to-peer voice over IP application. After installing, the first actual message I... [Ratcliffe Blog]

See it is not new. It is just that this time it works!

3-4 years ago we were asking the VoIP providers to create something like this for QuikkTUTOR. They never really got it. A few years after that for another venture we were looking for the same thing but with video as well. There were a few players but... [Tims Blog]

See also a list of known Skype problems Don't look too serious so far.

Finally I'd still like to know the pronunciation. Rhyms with hype? Or more like this morning - when I heard - like sniper. Is it just me or is it really like SKIP? In other words when a SKYPER is done he or she has to SKYPE (Skip)?

September 15, 2003

Skype Changing Social Networks

It's all really intriguing. This question of whether and how we should codify relationships with the majority of effort around centralized data solutions, negotiating standards and adoption. I'm thinking there is another route.

Right now Skype has 18869 users online with 240000 downloads. That is more than any of these social networking tools Ryze, Ecademy, Linkedin, Tribe etc.. have ever had on concurrently. The founders negotiated no standards they are simply providing a phone system that works. See Cnet and the quote below.

Let's tie the interesting discussion on relationships and social networking software that's emerged over the weekend to whats happening with Skype. The discussion started with Liz Lawley here and then a great perspective by Danah Boyd here and Matt Mower adds more here. Summed up in Marc's blog as well where he says.

However if Matt knew what it took us to even broach the subject of multi-granularity to the RDF camp and get it expressed in FOAF, he'd know that you gotta walk before you can run. Since everyone's concept of 'friends' is this binary yes or no sort of attitude, it has repercussions across all sorts of issues: user experience, profile interchange, the semantic web, ecommerce and multimedia personalization.

Whether it be for a foundation of federated social networks, enhancing one's digital lifestyle aggregation or as a basis multimedia personalization - putting identity into CONTEXT is what it's all about. Identity doesn't work as a stand alone concept - putting folks into a frenzy about privacy and security. It only works - when it's put into some real-world context.

Well we have a new real-world context. whats interesting is it is driven by voice not text. Most of the above remains driven by text, transactions and regulations. What I want to know is whether or not we should talk. Some text and a profile or additional infomation may help. Around the telephone call are all sorts of "understandings". I'll be interested to see if we have to reinvent them as a result of Skype.

I fully expect people to leave AIM, Yahoo and MSN for Skype. Skype's already carrying a profile. It could be made significantly richer and I'm sure progressive disclosure could be enabled quickly. My question is what access do I want to enable. My buddies and buddies buddies? Those that have read or linked to my blog? Sure! The doctor's office, dentist etc. Yep. Then those that perhaps I don't know but are prepared to provide a verified profile, including those verified to contain no adult content. Concurrently with these lists we have an emerging phone system that may be linked to our knowledge assets. Why can't Google and Technorati be linked to Skype? If Technorati can search Skype blog urls and match with owner names... then we would accelerate exchanges. It could easily be made smart (online or offline) and provide a notification!

Thus blogging / knowledge assets would also have a Skype contact number capability and whether they could be reached now or if they are offline you could offer a notification service perhaps even using Skype that so’n so is now online. Potentially you could make this a Technorati call. You become the call forwarder thus brokering the intro. Ie this person has linked to your blog and is available to talk to you. Similarly when I send a trackback pin, should I have an option to ping Technorati that I'd be willing to talk to the pinged author? There's a lot that could be done here. I imagine Feedster too could start searching online Skype users and link back to retrieved postings.

Similarly I'd like someone to tell me quickly how I add an additional input section to my comments like the e-mail address that enables a Skype callback. Be a lot easier to thank people that way!

Kazaa co-founders Janus Friis and Niklas Zennstrom have a new target: the telephone industry. They've launched Skype, which they claim is the first Internet phone service to use peer-to-peer software. In just its first week of availability, 60,000 people downloaded the free Skype software. Other voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services, such as Vonage or Free World Dialup (FWD), needed several months to attract the same level of interest. Tech News -

Separately, where there has been some negative blogging around the Eula and possible future charges keep the following in mind. First it is now proven and could be duplicated. Second this is a global phenomena and any charges will have to work accordingly. Lastly, real disruptive change happens when the cost factor means the new product is 10 times cheaper. That can only happen if everyone get online. Pressure your friends and I bet more than a few new businesses emerge.

September 16, 2003

26488 + 40% vs Yesterday

A recent comment on my blog asked why the hype about Skype? "Aside from quality, why is everyone going crazy over Skype. I have used yahoo, netmeeting, and dialpad with success." I've tried them all too. What's inspired me to keep plugging away and digging deeper on Skype is it's base architecture. All the other systems use some form of centralized directory. Centralized directories create control and incur costs. Decentralized directory systems and input systems appear to create new markets. eBay never decided what should be auctioned, only how to auction it. eBay facilitates connectivity between buyer and sellers - flow and thus trade. I suspect if Skype or an open source substitute comes along it too will facilitate connectivity and create new markets around new very low cost voice exchanges.

If nothing else Skype is changing perspective on VoIP. Today I see 26488 users up +40% from the 18869 I saw yesterday about the same time. A good part of my practice has been scenarios for the last few years. While Skype should not be "news" to telecoms, MS or Yahoo for it's potential. I'd like to know how many have really thought it through and if even aware. Then what action and scenarios are they using to challenge their strategic thinking. Will US Telecoms be the next RIAA?

This link below to a comment sums up why it sounds good to me. It also suggests a solution is required for directory security. Can someone track this down and verify one way or the other? True or False?

An interesting editorial, but you might be wrong. My take on Skype is that it is using P2P technologies for the "white pages" portion of the VoIP network, not just in peers communicating directly. Super-peers store portions of these white-pages. Just as super-peers in Kazaa store indexes to music files stored on other peer machines, these super-peers store indexes to the phone numbers of other peers. They aren't clear if they are using this approach, but it's my take when they say "the network works just like Kazaa". This is also an unsecure approach, which is probably why they aren't publicizing it in detail. These super-peers could "lie" and reroute calls to the wrong peer, just as super-peers in Kazaa can "lie" about what music files are stored where. When you tell the system to find the phone number for 510-938-2222, it probably actually initiates a "search" on the network of super-peers to resolve to the actual peer that has this number, just as it would "search" for madonna.mp3.

This is an important approach, by the way, because if we don't need to maintain massive white pages servers then we can significantly reduce the capital needed to build such a network. In fact, we can reduce it down to such a marginal cost that businesses aren't needed to build these networks at all. The network, including the white pages, self-organizes out of the peers themselves. This network can then be used to build VoIP apps, virtual hard-drives, etc. I have been working on an open-source project named P2P Sockets that is attempting to achieve this; check it out at One significant issue that needs to be solved before this approach is tenable is that these white pages need to be secure even though they are also decentralized and human-friendly.
Comment at Rebels Without Cause

I really enjoyed this post from Jibbering Musings below. He's right. Skype is not a IM replacement. My words were probably sloppy earlier. However I remain convinced that it is a threat to the MSN AIM etc systems as all of them provide and have that centralized server. Some of the other points he makes... just reinforces to me the business opportunities that will emerge from a winner in the decentralized VoIP space. I think voice is also a bigger motivation for adoption than text. This voice solution may lead more people to trying IM.

I don't agree, Skype is a one at a time (currently one to one) communication mechanism. You can only talk to one person at a time, and whilst you're in that conversation you're out of communication with everyone else, even if they develop an answerphone system, you'll still have to listen to each message. Speech is a very slow medium of communication, and it requires full attention. You can't talk on skype whilst in your office, or in the middle of cooking a meal, or doing any other task that takes you away from your computer momentarily. (I have a bluetooth headset which solves some of the problems - but popping to the toilet, or to the door, or somewhere out of bluetooth range is still impossible)
refer Jibbering Musings.for more

More Skype enthusiasm:

CNet.  State regulators attempt to control VoIP phone services (Vonage).   Here is a more informative bit of analysis from Jeff Pulver.  LOL.  Let them try that with Skype. [refer J Robb]

Hope my Skype Blog Button left now works

So, you can Skype me TDavid of answers my request for a Skype me link. Heres his explanation and the HTML tag and heres my Skype me link. Youll need to download and install Skype. On the this looks like a viral winner... [refer Ratcliffe]

September 17, 2003

P2P n Media

Plausible scenario on the impact of P2P on the Entertainment Industry and Future of Media. What do you think?

Hardball assessment of the future of media

Many people have predicted that peer-to-peer file-sharing will change the face of media, but this paper by Scott Jensen is the most thoroughgoing research I've seen into the commercial and artistic effects that peer-to-peer can potentially lead to. The paper is bold and futuristic, which means there are plenty of places the path it lays out could be sidetracked, but I think it's important reading. It makes me a little afraid to work for an old-style publication company, even one as innovative as O'Reilly & Associates.

Skype's Disruptive Branding

Last night there was a strong case put for "branding" as part of winning strategy for building business around Social Networks. We know it's critical. The imaginative fusion of personality and productivity create great brands. Then I discovered Abe's post on the "The Idiot Savant - Friendster Triumphant" and Marc's comments. It reinforced for me the strong "personality and polarlization that the founders of Skype have already provoked. It's getting press and reminders:

Allan Karl and Dina Mehta with more comments on branding:

Success can go to one's head. As such, fundamental strategic and tactical common sensory (sic) goes out the window. We saw what happened to the intense accelerated growth with Friendster. And it appears Skype is the latest social network wildfire. But out of control it's just a fad. Reigned in and focused it could be a solid brand, build equity and offer founders and users intense value. This isn't revolutionary. But it's certainly evolutionary.
[for the sake of clarity - The Digital Tavern]

With the ever growing number of social networks, it is likely to be the more human brand personalities that define the relationship users will have with each, the strength of loyalty and pointers to differentiate one network from another. Conversations with Dina

Similarly the product itself is creative. It's not IM. It is IM. No it's not. etc.... So via Dina's blog Forget Work, IM Is for Scheming, Flirting, Gossip. Another way of looking at the clear the pragmatic use for IM are made on Ulises blog. He asks me:

Does it have to be either/or? We are talking about two different technologies with two distinct sets of characteristics, and potentially two different uses. Expecting that people will leave AIM, Yahoo and MSN for Skype is overlooking some of the features that text-based IM affords that voice-based communication doesn't." I d e a n t: Skype: Voice vs. Text

I do concur. When I made this statement the other night. I fully expect people to leave AIM, Yahoo and MSN for Skype. Skype's already carrying a profile. It could be made significantly richer and I'm sure progressive disclosure could be enabled quickly.....

I had in mind a vision of what could be done with the Skype profiles. I've alluded to profiles in this blog before and argued for soft human ones. This is only partly a voice vs chat thing. The phone is ultimately more entrenched in our culture than IM. Skype may bring more people to recognize the significant benefits of text chatting. Similarly, IM users will be slow to give up a chat system if the substitute doesn't at least match its functionality. My comments were really based on a deeper belief that P2P systems will ultimately win and that as they transform commerce new markets and better tools will be created. That is where Skype's disruptive creative branding might really show.

This is quick mind dump of the logic. At best a hypothesis. Still suspend disbelief and consider versus everything from MS to SBC whether Skype or a similar product for the consumer market will radically change the rules. Hey lets make it up as we go!

  • Ownership. Consumers have a greater degree of control. We can swarm on Skype or another system. Ownership and the profit model (is there one?) will determine the service. Consumers perceive more control over "THEIR" data in this environment.
  • Profiles. Skypes decentralized "who's online?" will foster scraped directories. The core directory can be built on my everything from verification services though to social networks that individuals plan to participate in. Really why play on Friendster another service can tell you which Skypers want a date. Audible intros? Listen and call?
  • eBayization of Communications: Imagine an eBay style of market. Skype or its future decendents facilitate connectivity. Having access to their supernodes pack will give you access to confernce calls while the additional opportunities are in the added functionalities. Just like Auctionwatch, PayPal, Andale, etc. Now think about everything from 900 numbers to online helplines. Everything that a telephone company ever bundled is now up for grabs.
  • Stupid Network. David Isenberg has talked about this for years. The economics are not in the MSN solution. I'm not sure they are even in the Vonage solution with a centralized directory. Doesn't 30--40% of communications co's cost go on sales and marketing? I don't see that being spent by Skype. The core... needs very few people.
  • Sound Quality: It's simply better than the phone to faraway places. I'm sure the headset issues / phones are already solved with many new solutions on their way. I'm already thinking about a bluetooth headset. I'd also like to know if anyone can Skype yet from a WiFi enabled PDA?
  • Brand: The brand records of all the players is simply lousy. I've already commented on the Skype brand. It' going to have to do a much better job to foster trust to be "the people's" telephone company. If they can't work it out. Someone will. There's a David n Golaith story in this.
  • Real Names: Having a persistent voice presence requires real names or numbers we know. Voice really is more important. Here P2P telephony is likely to differ from the identity proliferation that exists on Yahoo etc. For it to be useful and to find others... it is easier to use real names. Skypers that want it to grow will demonstrate that it is safe. If you want to reach out and talk to someone new you don't give them a fake identity. While I'm yet to see IM messages from unknowns opening the door to Bill Gates. Pretty difficult on the phone too... :)
  • Always on: For many IM is sporadic. It's an on and off again thing. That's the generation that really doesn't know how to use it. This generation understands that telephones have to be on all the time to work. So if they want the lower costs that this might bring. the All of Us consumer community must collectively work to be always on. Bring costs down!!!! Share your "own" number or handle --- It's your choice.
  • Experience / Behavior: Voice/chat is also just reflecting on the behavior and expectations. It's a step forward. It's big enough to make people think about their computer in a new way. When I IM someone I may or may not get a response, my words probably went though. They remain words I don't get intonation etc. When I Skype someone the phone rings I'm in a listening response mode --- are they busy, happy to hear from me etc. In a millisecond I'm more in tune.

    And finally Gary Burd asks:

    .... another Internet telephony application, has found a way to handle the NAT problem:
    Non-firewalled clients and clients on publicly routable IP addresses are able to help NATŐed nodes to communicate by routing calls. This allows two clients who otherwise would not be able to communicate to speak with each other.
    It will be interesting to see how this plays out for Skype. Will Skype users with direct Internet connections be happy about giving away bandwidth to Skype users behind NATs? Will they even understand that this is happening? Gary Burd: NATs and Internet telephony

    Yep I think they will. Just like they are giving away WiFi. Get ready --- it's creative destruction! As noted in other places there are many forms of innovation. This is transformational and matches Schumpeter's concept of a "historic and irreversibe change in the way of doing things." Tranformational innovations tear at the social fabrics and the economic markets.

  • September 18, 2003

    Yahoo to Lock out Trillian

    Are you a Trillian user just trying to keep your chat consolidated? At the beginning of the phone system there were different companies. Those on one network couldn't connect with another. Well looks like Yahoo is making a fatal blunder following Microsoft's lead to close out third party clients. See the CNET article found via this blog.

    For all the aggravation brought by incumbent telcos, the thought that organizations such as Yahoo or MSN could replace them to provide our basic communication infrastructure is even scarier. Heres a simple action plan to send a clear message that were. [Oliver Travers]

    This closed door mentality is just one reason 525000 people have downloaded Skype to date. I've seen 34000 so far today online (up from 32000 yesterday). I keep saying it beats MS and Yahoo for voice quality while still beta. I'm not wedded to any of the above IM clients for I'm not 11 years old (my daughter will be harder to shift from AIM) and don't particularly like multiple text conversations. However while I failed to really convert my parents and many friends to IM chat, I know Skype provides another opportunity. Now we are talking phones something they understand. For them a Yahoo upgrade or lock-out is is just a bore.

    Why is it a strategic blunder? Yahoo is looking at their "former" competitors and is unwilling to think forward. I don't think they ever had a strategy for "Your Computer is Ringing!" Now what if ringing and entertainment file sharing are brought together via a plug-in strategy? Sharing music (access to anothers Hotlist) is just an individual hack. It's the card that won't be played for a little longer and it won't tie to Kazaa.

    Trillian's blunder is also just the type of strategy I was warned and advised about yesterday. Tying any business to Skype at this early stage is a "test" to get learning for an emergent environment. It may pay off, real big time. Then again Skype's business model is not declared. There is risk there. The strategy questions continuue - who, how and what will shape the value equation in the P2P telephony market?

    Skypers Need a Better Way to Navigate Connections

    I just took a Skype call from an "unknown" for research purposes. He was a 16 year old German lad who lives in Bavaria. He's finding Skyping pretty cool. His key objective was to practice his English --- (almost perfect) and so he's reaching out to America and Japan wanting to share culture and just talk English to other people. Simply curious.. probably didn't expect to get someone older than his father. So I did my questioning thing. He was checking it out. Hoping to get his AFS exchange girlfriend who's in San Diego on the system. Poor guy, he's getting beach shots and missing out.

    Some might complain --- it was really a spam call. I didn't have to answer it and I could have rejected it. There was no profile - name or anything. Yet this perfectly illustrates the type opportunities that may emerge around Skype type technologies. This example for language, meeting people and cultural exchange. Who will create a safe haven for this kid to have his conversations? My son is a Spanish 3 sophomore. I know his Spanish isn't at the same level and yet who does he have to talk to? Who could buddy him and vice-versa. Skype potentially brings a real language lesson immediately into the home.

    Yet another option for those social networking profiles. We've had PenPals now maybe it is TalkPals. However, Skype isn't going to get our profiles. They are probably already maxed out for data unless they think real carefully and provide a better brand charter. We are more likely to broker or spread our profiles. Reid (Linkedin)used the term "graphs" which I interpret as: Business, Personal, Professional, Household, Family, etc. The opportunity exists for a collection of permanently on Profiles --- Skypepages --- which will then list our other "trusted" directory and networking suppliers. A certain level of access and sharing will be required to dig deeper or get the number to connect. List on SkypePages for free and your listing on Skype will no longer be public but smart. Skypepages will only list name, zipcode or telephone number publically. Think how classmates matches people Skypepages can frequently change log-in addresses automatically updating your directory contacts just like Plaxo adding additional security. (Would this work?) The linkage engine is an initial prize. SkypePages can' be owned by Skype. So how does Skypepages make money. For a small fee it will link you to your other networks. Enabling them to provide the access you have contracted them to provide while retaining the knowledge that should you fire them and move your data or recast your profile elsewhere your "number" for calls always remains secure. Even SkypePages can't know it. Note: SkypePages doesn't need to know your e-mail address however it may need to collect your credit card. SkypePages can create the market for trusted social networks.

    I believe this strategy is attractive as the name aggregator doesn't have to act as a universal trust broker only facilitate the market for trusted exchanges.

    Anyone want to help build it? Any advice? The theory is Skype has to go after connecting to landlines and mobiles. That is where they make money. The directory is key to all sorts of value added new services created when call costs go to zero. Telecoms got rid of yellow pages etc as it wasn't a core business. Skype would be too ambitious to go there.

    September 19, 2003

    Houston - we have lift-off - Working@home on Skype

    FIRST it was the music industry, and now it's the telephone companies. Digital wizards may leave no industry unchanged.
    Check out the latest from file-swapping pioneers as they set their sights on a new target and offer a system that lets people speak to each other for free

    WSJ Backgrounds Skype

    Made the WSJ very quickly!

    WSJ on Skype:  "It's easy to dismiss Skype and other Internet voice initiatives as a lunatic fringe," said James Enck, a telecom analyst at Daiwa in London.

    As expected by this weblog: But Janus Friis, one of the founders of Skype and its vice president of strategy, recently said the company plans to launch a service within six months to allow people to make calls over Skype using their traditional phones. Skype intends to make money by selling a package of additional telephone services to users, such as voice mail, Mr. Friis said. Phone calls will remain free.

    Stockholm-based Skype is closely held. Draper Investment Co., established by American venture capitalist William H. Draper III, was the founding investor in Skype in 2002. (Tim Draper is an investor in Streamcast Networks, the operator of Morpheus).

    September 22, 2003

    WiFi Roaming

    Picked up this note. Something that I tended to think was limited to cellphones "roaming" (at least for the time being) may just be beginning to emerge in WiFi. Now that makes Skype's appearance even more interesting. Could these two paths together accelerate the future? Then perhaps it makes the office more interesting too. No wires, no phones as we know them.

    AIRCQ Wi-Fi Instant Messenger - 802.11 Planet, CT AirCQ by LodeSoft is an Instant Messaging program for WiFi computers that can be run on a dynamic, ever changing WiFi network. AirCQ ...

    More Skype Talk

    David follows up today with another detailed posting Skype P2P VoIP App: One in a Million?
    "If they don't screw it up with a confusing and overpriced subscription service, Skype could possibly become one of those extremely rare apps that comes along and truly changes communication and networking on the web." David also puts a stick in the ground on pricing. I'm not sure I agree either in the global context or the method. What's important right now is the appropriate business expectations are created. Skype may well have launched with more "noise" than expected.

    What I do want from David is his method for signaling whether Skype is online or offline on my blog. Come on David share! They will want it on Ryze pages and on Ecademy.

    In the early reviews some emerging features are being missed.

  • One-Click Calling: The idea that i finally have my phone book on my desktop and only have to mouse click to call is just great. It's been buried before. Voice vs Chat centric reinvents this for me.
  • Share your contacts feature: In "Tools" - "Send Contacts" you can share connections on your buddy list just like in AIM. Come on bloggers we can connect up quicker. Finding addresses will be much simpler.
  • Languages. The latest update provided languages and reinforces the global nature of this product. I had to go back in an download again to update. Short-term it's the international and long distance calls that you never could justify just making before.
  • Imagining what it's like behind the Skype walls? What's being monitored, number of hits on google. Broadband vs dial-up connections etc. Looking at the slowing toward the end of last week at people on line at 12:00pm suggested to me an increasing number of dial-ups. Yet today I think I saw 42500 online. That's roughly double a week ago.
  • Biggest functional issue: Currently in IM I can't click on a hot-link sent to me. I also seem to have some conflict with my other IM systems. Particularly Yahoo. Not sure if this is my system, firewall etc.

    Some new quotes follow: First asks how do I call my friend of my friend. Well that's part of the profiling opportunity.

    Nowadays Skype becomes one of the most faschinating application over peer to peer communication instead of Kazaa. I love this application but I want one specific function. That is to find a friend of my friends. [Kokoro]

    It's neat that Ecademy and Thomas Power groks it. They have already experimented there with RSS and blogging. Bet they will be the first social/business networking app to incorporate a link. May be the reason enough to activate my profile there.

    The product is amazing I have spoken with 2 Ecademy members already from the UK and Faroes, cost nothing. Kazaa are killing the music business. Will Skype kill the telco business? Thomas Power - Chairman... [Thomas Power]

    Getting your friends to stream in a broadcast..... Not the first time I've heard this desire.

    Best Use of Skype EVAR Alabamas game against Northern Illinois isnt on TV today, so I tried to find a stream of the radio broadcast. Unfortunately, Yahoo seems to have a monopoly on the streaming rights and wants to charge me $5/month, and theres no.. [Refer]

    I'd worry that I've become an advocate for Skype, yet there is support. So come on. Suspend your disbelief, try it and Skype me. It opens a new world for thinking strategic futures.

    This is a link that I would normally post over there in my sidebar in the Cookie Crumbs microblog, but considering I havent really heard any buzz about it at all lately, I wanted to post it in my main blog instead, just to get your attention. Check... [Refer]
  • September 23, 2003

    Underground Internet.

    Useful update and article via the Arlington Institute on Darknets at Business Week. I do have reservations about the naming and the category "darknets" some may indeed be dark, however they just facilitate more effectively what has been done through the ages.

    "The Underground Internet - ( - September 15, 2003) "Darknets", metaphorical gated communities that work below the radar of
    firewalls, filters, search engines, and identity regulations pose a serious risk to the securities of the regular internet. These new establishments will
    allow for pirated software to sail from computer to computer without government
    regulation. Not only is this a problem for entertainment industries, but it will
    also generate an overflow of the information barriers established by authoritarian
    regimes. Hypothetically, a student in a regulated country could obtain restricted
    documents as long as he or she were connected to a "darknet"."

    New Kind of Revolution in Dorms

    Will the adminstrators or the students drive the change to VOIP telephony? From the New York Times --- Students get free calling. Dartmouth is looking to reach 13000, Skype already has 42500 online.

    Using the software together with a headset, which can be plugged into a computer's U.S.B. port, the students can make local or long-distance telephone calls free. Each student is assigned a traditional seven-digit phone number.

    The software, supplied by a variety of companies, works on laptops and desktop computers alike. Over the next six months, the softphone platforms will expand to include Apple computers, as well as Palm and Pocket PC hand-held devices.

    When running, the software appears on the screen as a phone with a dial pad. Phone numbers are dialed by clicking the numbers on the key pad.

    Voice over Internet protocol is not new. But running so much voice over a wireless data network is.

    "As far as I know, no one has done a wireless voice-over-I.P. network this large before," said David Kotz, a computer science professor at Dartmouth.

    The network is being phased in across the entire campus with plans to reach 13,000 people, including faculty and staff.

    "So far, it's just incoming freshmen, because they're the ones mostly likely to grab on to this," said Larry Levine, the director of computing at Dartmouth.

    The $50 headsets are being sold at the campus computer store. "But most headsets will work," said Bob Johnson, director of network services at Dartmouth. "It's just a question of what kind of voice quality you want."

    The roll out of voice over Internet protocol is closely coupled with Dartmouth's recent decision to stop charging students, faculty and staff for long-distance phone calls. The college made that decision when administrators discovered that the billing function was costing more than the calls themselves.

    "One wouldn't be possible without the other," Mr. Johnson said. "Imagine the complexities of trying to track down who made what call when on a large, mobile campus voice-over-I.P. network."
    [New York Times: Technology]

    How will the adminstrators address Skype?

    Writing - Talking - Writing - Talking Different

    Mitch provides more thoughts on the business model for Skype. What's attractive to me is the "global" flat rate of this demonstration. Even the emerging VoIP carriers like "Vonage" aren't providing a global flat rate. Now the global rate just went to almost zero and the cost of the infrastruture moved to the edge.

    The real business model is in linking VoIP to plain old telephones, including 911, which would make a broadband connection into a true phone instead of a closed P2P system like Skype.

    The debate now is over what Skype is... [Ratcliffe Blog]

    I do agree with Mitch's POV that this is not the only VoIP option. I'd add that there are other business models too. For example we may not want a phone system run like KQED or PBS, which has a good on air record. There are a good number of value added services that will be interesting. Let's see what emerges. What do others think?

    I'm excited by what I'm seeing in the blogosphere as individuals are connecting up who have never talked before. In seconds in terms of time we are moving from Blogs as Clipper Ships where one exchanges letters and comments to the Jet Age where networking becomes even more important. It was a "writing world" and now it's a "writing - talking" world. For the bloggers that have talked it is materially different. What were weak ties, or public exchanges of letters gather additional warmth with real conversations. Voice strengthens weak ties quickly. I never had an opportunity to talk about what I might blog today or that I wanted to respond. Skype is a way by which bloggers with weak ties can strengthen them. Each new conversation adds to my delight and fuels my interest to keep blogging. Then that's probably natural. Voice to me is an easier medium to share in than just text.

    Accelerating Voice conversations will lead to better blogs. If someone you like to see reading didn't blog this week. Skype them and find out why?

    Emerging Blogger Deskroll

    Anyone yet getting tired of my Skype links? I just have to convert a few more of you. In my case (old that I am) my Skype buddy list is increasingly becoming more useful than anything I ever amassed on Yahoo, Aim or MSN. I still have many bloggers to go. What's interesting is it reframes the context. This is my bloggiing community and I can talk to them and it is on my desktop. It's like creating the office phone list. Then there are some I know that have Mac's and that's too bad. I've also confronted the doubters. Still try it. It is a useful frame of reference to put yourself in. It may change your thinking about how these social networking tools fit together. Today again brings plenty of helpful hints and noisy comments ......

    There's been some confusion with call tags. David again!

    A couple of folks have stopped by and commented and said they were having problems with callto tags working with their browsers and Skype:Things that...

    I also went back to Skype and re downloaded to get all their latest features. After yesterday suggesting you can share friends lists. That's only likely to be possible with the latest version of Skype and I think both parties must have it for it to function. It's in my toolbar but have found that it is not in the earlier versions. So download if you want to keep current with upgrades and new functionalities.

    More comments on Skype via Metafilter some humorous, some intelligent. :

    P2P Telephony | Metafilter

    But the 911 thing is an issue, at least in the US, anyway.

    "Ohmygod... FIRE! Quick, honey, turn the computer on!, call 911 with that program!!"

    Really, who would use this for emergency phone calls? That's too funny.

    Makes me think about Windows. Would you entrust 911 to Windows... I doubt it. At least you would know that the sound quality is excellent. How do they get it that way?

    The wizard behind the curtain? Global IP sound supplies voice processing software for Skype. Global IP Sound demonstrated Skype [Things that ...]

    Skype me!

    September 24, 2003

    Skype Dinner: TONIGHT 6:00-9:00pm Details

    This confirms the venue for tonights Skype Dinner is "Pacific Coast Brewing Company" See Directions and be there around 6:00pm. Will be fun. They apparently have WiFi online.

    Need more info.... Skype me: Stuart Henshall" or Phil Wolff

    Like the idea of P2P telephony? See opportunities for Skype and blogging. Want to explore SkypeWorld? Got some programming ideas? Come join us for some brainstorming and fun....

    Stuart Henshall and I need to talk. We talked on Skype. Now we're going to talk in person. Join us for dinner in Oakland this Wednesday. On the agenda:

    • What are the traditional business opportunities for Internet telephony?
    • What are the non-traditional, blog and social software -based business opportunities?
    • What would we ask Skype to open to independent developers?

    [a klog apart]

    Also listed today on Ryze HERE

    September 25, 2003

    Where Next Skype?

    This post covers where we are going next with Skype. My underlying belief that this is radical innovation and that managers must understand networks to be successful. I plan on using my blog as a good way to test these ideas with a live emerging case study that we are all involved in. Particularly for Skype connected bloggers there is a range of insight we can each individually and collectively bring to this.

    Last nights small Skype dinner was a blast. We covered a lot of ground and there's more still to cover. You see I came away believing I'm not alone in thinking Skype may be a really big thing. More importantly with the whole VoIP space hotting up (don't believe me then just go to Google News and subscribe to VoIP and Skype respectively) it is worth considering alternate scenarios. From Microsoft to SBC, Motorola, Nokia and Dell, not to mention AOL and Yahoo, I hope to hell their management teams have this on their radar and it's not a surprise.

    Skype represents Radical Innovation:

    Some of you may wonder why I'm still running with the Skype story. It's frankly a great space. This is the intersection of marketing, innovation and strategy that I most successfully facilitate and implement…. The product pricing opportunities are intriguing while new functionalities can potentially redefine how we "phone". Then there are the peripheral businesses and particularly hardware innovations that will be coming. That will be a change as yesterdays phones and innovation are an oxymoron.

    P2P Networks - Connectivity, Flow & Sharing
    I've been a believer for four years that this was coming. This may be more than just another early warning indicator. Skype is also more. It presents a point in time where the opportunity to test thinking around topics from social networking, IM tools, to the future of email and telephony, and the internet itself. The impact is much broader as well. This is a software company. It is an intellectual asset backed by I bet a very few people that is potentially reconfiguring economic structures. How we connect impacts on how and where money is made. This may just be an example of tomorrow's company. Just like Ryze is an example of one pioneer creating a community for 50000, a few are creating real value here. It is also Creative Distruction. Simultaneously, I am seeing numbers that say currently 10% of all voice calls are VoIP. What's the potential for Skype? Possibly as a program it could approach as much as 10% of Windows revenues. Broker some relationships with the Telco's and it could be more. Negotiating with the telco's alone will be interesting.

    Emerging Topic areas.
    So where do we go with this? Our brainstorming session lead in many directions last night. We're both going to keep blogging about Skype. Here's the list I organized. Phil's separately blogged his perspective.

  • Consumer Behavior From Beginning Calls to Managing Friends and Answering.
  • Experimenting with Skype: Skype Basic and Skype Pro Features
  • Defining the Business Model and Profit Opportunities for the Skype Garden
  • Defining Personal and Business Pricing Structures
  • Functionalities and Things Skype Needs to Address
  • Blogging with Skype
  • Amazon / EBay n' Skype
  • The Conferencing Opportunity.
  • Story to Close and Comment:
    I wonder how many of you have had your first experience of Skype with a full headset? For the simple observation is that phones only use one ear while Skype profits from two.., People really get into your head in stereo. No wonder the sounds so good! We laughed so hard on this observation.

    Then again if Skype were the size of Kazaa in two years time… with approximately 250m users and say 100m online at anyone time, I'd guess that would make them the largest telephone system on earth. It creates a different sort of negotiating position.

    September 26, 2003

    Skype Live Callers to Web Broadcast

    Will this be the first use of Skype for a web broadcast? Innovation in action!

    "Today on the 160th live broadcast of the Script School Radio show, we are going to be discussing and demonstrating the use of Skype to allow live callers into our live web streamed radio show. For those who are interested in seeing and hearing a demo of this capability, stop on by and learn how." Things that

    Radio feeds available at (mp3):
    IRC: #scriptschool

    Experimenting on Skype Reveals More

    Some experiments using Skype enable a better understanding of how it works and what opportunities will emerge for "chargeable" versions. Let's hold the pricing theories a little longer and uncover some systems architectural features that begin to identify "product upgrades" and innovations to come. Points covered:


  • Basic Skype Experiment
  • Synchronizing Skype Friends
  • Obtaining Multiple Lines
  • Multiple Accounts - Exchange On a Computer
  • Security for Your Skype
  • P2P Decentralized Messaging Approach

    This post began with the article in The Register which sent me experimenting. Let's just say I was curious.

    "...creating a Global Index as a multi-tiered network where supernodes communicate in such a way that every node in the network has full knowledge of all available users and resources with minimal latency. Seconds after you log on your friends know you are there, rather like instant messaging".

    Basic Skype Experiment:
    Well not always. If I download and log in to Skype on another PC it can activate my account but it doesn't contain my friends list. This suggests that the only thing Skype centralizes is the account name, password and an email (should you want to retrieve the password). The friend's list information is almost certainly encrypted within the program somewhere. Now that makes some sense for the super nodes are then duplicating my encrypted friends list information (see the Register article). No wonder when booting up another peer with the same name I can't synch my friends list.

    In fact… Skype allows two or more peers into the system with the same name at the same time. Each new "install" is lacking a friends list. Unlike Yahoo or MSN if you log in on another computer Skype doesn't log you off. In Skype's case it can't. The result both ring when called from another account. That is if you are running your account on two computers simultaneously one can ring in the living room and the other the office. If you answer on one… the other just logs it as a call unanswered. This must lead to one of the Skype paid version features that quickly links my computers and their logs. However, let's stick with friends for a moment or two.

    Synchronizing Skype Friends
    So you have two computers ringing. However, the probable encrypted nature of the friends lists means that your duplicate running account doesn't have a friends list. Guess what? To get it or import it I have to request authorization from all my friends again. NASTY! It's also very SMART! They will be explaining that for a call anywhere account that can uplift /port your friends at/to another destination you will have to pay some dollars. In the Western world it means extra dollars for my WiFi - PDA, to match my Laptop to match my HomePC and enable frequent synchronizations. Otherwise.... Skype spams my friends with unnecessary authorization requests. Something I really don't want. Those that do --- well you will know they are being cheap!

    Obtaining Multiple Lines
    Now we know you can have two Skype (phones) with the same account ringing at the same time. Still I'm limited to running one account at a time on my computer. Some will want to run simultaneous accounts / names (there are industries already doing this). So the another element in the paid program is to enable you to have more than one ID feeding one account (multiple lines one account). Eg a Personal Line, Family Line and a Business Line. This starts to look a lot like breaking one of those sacred telecom cows… It's also different to MSN and Yahoo which only allow one log-in at a time. Trillian does allow more (but then consolidates the address book). Why different lines? The opportunity for different profiles and possibly different directory listings. It also enables customers to signal more about the type of relationship this number implies.

    In the IM sense I can order my buddy lists. In the Skype sense I begin ordering my ring tones and answering instructions. I could leave my home computer on and never miss a call picking up the chat (rather than voice at first) mail anywhere I go anytime as my WiFi PDA synchs with Skype each time it smells a free connection.

    Multiple Accounts - Exchange On a Computer
    However I've got another problem. When you share the home computer not everyone wants to share their IM account. Logging off my Skype Account means I no longer get my calls and dependent on the voice/chat mail application that's lost too (at least currently the logging is). So I want my computer to handle multiple accounts (it was once called a party - line) Just means that when I'm calling the line will be busy for my daughter etc. Still if you have multiple computers in the house all but the one you are speaking on could be ringing. Could that be a mini-exchange of some sort?

    Security for your Skype
    This brings us to security. Under this type of strategy everyone has their own account number and likely customized rings. (Which creates another set of opportunities for phones headsets etc which won't be addressed in this posting). As this looks toward a more personal phone future my multi-dimensional phone account requires some phone security. Cell phones have lock numbers, perhaps this should be an option as well. Thumb-reader? When someone comes to your Skype enabled house they can login... secure their ring tone (babysitters or night out) and only be answering their calls. That keeps your call private and the messages intact. Calls potentially can follow you around. (note a very simple new form of pager is also possible)

    P2P Decentralized Messaging Approach
    For me the real insight is that fact that Skype will never activate a centralized voice messaging system. Voice messaging requires an always on computer component. In version 1.0 it may require one of your computers to be always on even if it isn't ringing. Thus may have to be a two tier home user pricing for version 1.0. For those that run dial-up connections access to chat mail will be difficult unless your e-mail is in the profile. Chat mail is the message you leave when your call results in no answer or away. For a dial-up account they may all go to e-mail. Perhaps a later version 2.0 will arrive when enough peers can provide redundant encrypted voice messaging capacity (low quality MP-3) Think Freenet. Your voice mail is automatically taken by three unknown peers all with a known record of online performance. In the first instance it won't be voice mail, but chat mail. Stuart Henshall is not online would you like to leave a message? In 2.0 those peers may get a rebate on their monthly or annual software license. So if you've upgraded from free to a "synching peer" Your then you will always be able to access your voice mail. Perhaps also providing a consumer incentive to upgrade to broadband connection. Buy a small monthly fee for a "synched peering account" and even the smallest of global businesses are capable of having a voicemail and global reach via an internet café. Synched peering may also require a Freenet style backup. For example…. There is a power cut in California… my system remains working via backups in France, Japan and Arizona, all unknown to me. However this is getting a little ahead of the story line.

    The next posts will attempt the layout some initial and perhaps future functionality plans. Consider a Skype Basic and Skype Pro for consumer and then there will be some business options as well. More to come.

  • Skype for TalkBack Blog?

    I'm having a blast here listening to a live broadcast from TDavid. Very humorous and completely off topic for me. He's set up his weekly show in a talkback format this the audience has the option to call in using Skype. It has reframed my idea of what and how simply this can be done. Come-on Clay Shirky... when is the first "Many to Many" Talkback?

    So what's happening? I'm listening to the broadcast via winamp and running IRC in trillian. People are Skyping in and Tdavid has a 800 line as well. Early question was a real insight. Instant use of the Callto tag straight from the IRC window. This is experimenting messing around doing it live trying to get the audio mixing right. I'm generally amazed at the sound quality. The set up is using two computers. David is broadcasting from one and the second computer is being used for the Skype call-ins. There's little latency in this whole system.

    A shot of --- a desk and the second computer. ...

    web image.jpg webimg 3.jpg

    Equipment requires two computers and a few mics speakers etc. Cheap call it $50, more expensive $250 with some slicker audio mixing. Take the out of the mixing board and plug it into the other computer and using shoutcast start the live record.

    Skype to be Walled for Profit?

    There's increasing discussion around Skype and its business model. The question keeps getting asked. How will they make money? Beyond software charges where is the next money making opportunity? Personally I don't think there will be much charging until a million people are on all the time - perhaps more. So far we are only at 50000. So there's some way to go.

    For a call charging model I first thought of those used for cellular in many countries outside the USA where one just pays a flat fee. In NZ you can call any number in with no minute limitations. Cell phone to cell phone calls were also free. However (and unlike America) a landline to cell phone call was expensive. Probably still round US$ .20 to .30 cents a minute. This same barrier exists on international long distance.

    Call-in Charging Makes it more Viral
    I've had a sense that all the "money constructs" are about calling "out" rather than calling "in" to Skype. What if Skype failed to execute a call "out" of the garden but quickly enabled the cheapest calls on earth in? That would help growth --- right! It would also infect others. Even with a free Skype account others could call you without knowing anything about Skype, just that you have a new number.

    So the step two in the money making infrastructure is in enabling people to call into the Skype network. In the US we have 900 numbers 1010629, 1010987 and other dial round services. I'd imagine my New Zealand mother-in-law - no-PC being very happy with a local call and a cent a minute to dial internationally. Hour long calls from any phone in the world to a Skype account for less than $1.00?

    Create a Simple Dial Solution for non Skype Callers
    This sort of presumes that from a consumer perspective all you need to know is the equivalent of 1010Skype and the call to ID pressed numerically which then may require a choice from names currently online or a zip number or similar. I'm sure there is a voice activated solution somewhere that would dock with their directory. Then it connects. What could be easier? It also benefits Skype. People then need to be transparent about their directories and names.

    Businesses accounts could make this a free number by paying for the minutes at the access point. (Note those business accounts will want one account multiple answering capability).

    Thus calls remain free between Skype users, many of which will upgrade their accounts for portability and access. Calls in to a Skype user are very low cost, perhaps a 10th of today's rates.

    Plausible Scenario?
    This scenario has the potential to attack both traditional POTS charging structures and hit mobile users that will soon be carrying WiFi enabled gadgets. It also encourages Skype users to continue bringing their friends into the garden.

    To top it off. Skype is likely to enable "Skype to SMS" as they introduce this calling charging system. It would be interesting to play with the numbers. I'm guessing they could subsidize SMS with the inbound calls.

    Other point ofs view???

    September 29, 2003

    Skype Wants - Functionality

    Phil adds to the Skype meme below with additional "wants" that I've also been mulling over. It lead me to a few more to start the week.

       1. Auto - Info Profile: For eveyone not on my buddy list each incoming call should automatically open their profile. I may also want to specify that for all profiles filled with less than x-details Eg: First Name / Last Name, location etc.. to notify sender that I don't accept calls that don't match this criteria without ringing me.

       2. Profile / Photo Fix. I'd like to insure I see photos of friends on my buddy list when they call. They could be incorporated into the directory as well. I'd like to insure that all others photo's are optional "view photo" when the info advice is received. Concern will grow about offensive photos.

       3. Call Message Integration: For those I'm calling who are not on my buddy list I'd suggest a two-click calling option. This would enable me to send a short personalized message with my profile when placing the call. For example providing a business reason for the call.

       4. Timestamp: I need timezones in my buddylist and a current time for caller in their info file. This may be further enhanced with some form of "politeness" time management system.

       5.   GeoUrl: Adding where we are in the world might tie-to timestamps. However even more specific tie-ins may enhance the opportunities for social networking. Some WiFi applications are already experimenting in this area. With time I'm sure "online" Skype users within X area may prove interesting.

    From a klog apart

  • I want to use Skype to record interviews: I'd think this could be done already. Although the solution wouldn't be elegant. (there are also some laws against recording telephone conversations for what it is worth). TDavids setup (refer Skype for TalkBack Blogging) which used two computers. An analog version could be done via a tape-recorder using the input and output jacks.

  • A privacy proxy will hide my profile (until I'm ready to reveal it) and hide my IP address. At first I just thought open a onetime name although this wouldn't hide the IP address. However, an Internet Cafe would likely provide the same option.

  • Skyperolls should be sharable. I'd want to be able to merge skyperolls.
  • I've already found the functionality of "tools" - "send contacts" to be very useful. I'm wondering if I can upload my picture file to Blogrolling or Technorati with an integrated Skype callto link?

    VoIP and the Internet Cafe

    On Friday I blogged about Skype being a walled garden I was also thinking about Skype's potential third world business opportunities with Internet Cafe's. So it just proves that when you become aware and start looking for emerging indicators.... that just maybe it's in the news.

    Networking the Telecom Industry

    Utilizing the communications channels built to terminate international voice calls into Vietnam, AMEI will create a staging platform that will allow their joint venture partners to promote, market and sell a selection of telecommunications solutions throughout Vietnam. The system will be configured to both place and receive telephone calls. AMEI will provide the necessary hardware and software for the partners to implement the VoIP calling system in each of their Internet Cafes. These devices will be routed directly back to AMEI in North America, where the calls will be routed on a least-cost routing basis to their final destinations. AMEI is currently testing two gateway networks offering bundled long distance packages in order to maximize discounts of up to 70% to its venture partners.

    The beta system testing will take approximately two weeks after which AMEI and its partners have projected a minimum volume of 10,000,000 minutes a month of long distance usage, representing over $ 1,000,000 USD per month of gross revenue to the Company. Unlike North America, Vietnam and its burgeoning economy have minimal communications systems infrastructures in place and the average citizen has to rely on outlets such as Internet Cafes for access to the Internet and/or long distance calling. These Cafes, many of which are open twenty four hours.

    September 30, 2003

    What Will You Pay for Skype?

    I've been talking to bloggers and reading blogs on Skype. There's a lot of chatter from David,Dina, Lilia, Ton, Phil, Mitch, Russell, , Roland and many more.  The demands for certain features are growing. This posting attempts to define how to differentiate Skype's product options.  It focuses on Individual Skype Accounts; rather than business which is not addressed here.  I've not set any prices --- I would appreciate your feedback and comments.  

    Skype Individual Accounts

    This outlines a possible consumer structure that will lead to a charging model. 

    Single Skype Line Options





    Compare Current IM clients

    Concurrent session profiles available to user


    As current


    Eg Personal / Business or His / Hers one profile


    Eg Personal / Business or His / Hers one profile


    Personal, Family, Business, Professional, Suppliers, Dating etc.

    One at Time

    Photos / profile

    Single Picture

    Single Picture per profile

    Single Picture per profile

    Refreshable Url or Folder Linked?

    MSN 6.0

    Customizable ring tones


    One Fixed

    Download Set by profile

    Set by profile

    Unlimited ringers by profile or friend, link to music files


    Synch Friends when using Account on multiple devices


    Yes (when base station is on)

    Yes (when base station is on)

    Yes (when base station is on)

    Yes available now

    Call Log Updates


    Yes (when base station is on)


    Yes (when base station is on)


    Chat Mail Notifications


    Yes (persistent sending)

    Yes & via e-mail

    Yes (persistent sending) & via e-mail

    Yes Yahoo

    Call-Waiting / Call on Hold


    Call-Waiting Beep

    Call-Waiting Beep

    Call-Waiting Beep


    Voice Mail Answering




    Yes (at base station)


    Message Forwarding






    Yes (from base station)


    The Skype Home PABX





    Compare Current IM clients

    Multiple Accounts on one PC





    Up to 6


    Additional Directory Listing Control


    Folders by Profile only

    Folders by Profile only

    Flexible and Shareable Folders Contacts can be shared across accounts. Alphabetical Search buttons


    Auto Call Connection  when party is back online or off the phone






    Account Security log-in / quick answer












    Kid capabilities




    Yes – Parental Supervision


    Broadcast calls? 






    Conference Calls




    Multiple Lines Sharing dependent on PC power?


    VoIP Radio?






    Some assumptions:

  • I’m assuming that there will be no Skype to phone (landline
    - POTS) in version 1.0. 

  • Video will be part of a value added product – maybe 2.0

  • That basic chat functions of “hotlinks” and “send file” will
    be included in 1.0

  • That future “browse together” will be enabled in a later

    Note: I’ve got no affiliation with Skype in anyway (other
    than using their beta product. 

  • Interesting Skype Failure

    I was just Skyping with Mitch when we both began receiving Microsoft failure notices - Skype has to close. Ultimately Skype went completely down. As we tried to log back on I at first saw some 3000 online, then 12317 and then the rebuild appeared to accelerate reaching 45000+ pretty quickly. However this is still down from an earlier peak I saw this moring that logged 63346 as being online. This is roughly double two weeks ago and up approx. +50% versus one week ago.

    Our conclusion was it was a "cascading failure of the peer directory systems. Is this balancing between broadband and dial-up? I have no idea. We do know and accept it is currently "BETA" software still with some glitches. Within minutes of various reboots it seems to be up and running again. In the meantime we finished our call via Vonage... at a lower sound quality - although we remained connected.

    Was fascinating to see the peers re knitting the web and their numbers climbing. Clearly such global failures have to be eliminated!

    Walkie Talkie Skype?

    Just yesterday Phill Wolff and I were having coffee (no WiFi and thus no Skype interruptions) and discussing how we could access walkie / talkie / Skype. Well it seems there are some hints here. Skype to GPRS enabled phones may not be that difficult. Hmmm....

    Russell Beattie Notebook

    This morning I saw that Jeremy Allaire had pointed out this new piece of software for our Nokia 3650s called Buzz2Talk which allows your phone to Push To Talk over an internet connection. In other words, VoIP from your mobile phone. Obviously I wanted to try it to see if it worked...

    Something else to experiment with sometime.

    FWD and VoIP

    An article in Forbes provides a short sighted view of the changes currently happening in the consumer VoIP market. Apparently FWD (Free World Dialup) has been around for 10 months and until a month ago I'd never heard of it. Like the burgeoning social networks I'm wondering how many of these systems I need or want. ONE! The article does provide a good example for anonymity which can't be excuted the same way on Skype right now. May have to try it out and see if it will run side by side with Skype.

    Free World Dialup from Talking In The Free World

    To some this will seem like more trouble than it's worth. Just as the economics of using FWD don't necessarily add up, neither do the economics of offering it. For now, Pulver runs FWD out of the goodness of his heart. Which is fine, since the whole system runs on a $5,000 dual-processor Linux server. But what if you wanted to make money offering IP phone service?

    October 1, 2003

    Duplicating Skype Friends

    I've not had time to test this although it's pretty obvious that it will work. Making it difficult would enhance the chances of creating a chargeable product. :: View topic - Solution: Copy Skype to another PC.

    This is for XP users:

    Install Skype on selected PC and fill out User settings exactly as on Original PC.

    Now log on and see You're missing all your friends as they are stored locally on your original PC.

    1. Make shure to shut down skype on both PC's (exit skype)
    2. Browse to this location on your Orig.PC:
    C:\Documents and Settings\Username\Application Data\Skype
    (Replace Username with your XP username.)
    3. Copy the folder(s) from inside the skype folder.
    4. Paste the folder(s) to exact same dir on the other PC.
    5. Start skype from other PC and you're done.

    It works here for me so now I can use Skype on my laptop without re-requesting all the friends.

    Goodies, Forum and Friends add to Skype Story.

    It's special when you find yourself observing a small team really hustling to make something new happen. Often there's not much time. The decisions come quickly, past experience plays a role. The real successes come when the team reaches for higher levels of customer experience keeping key brand values in mind --- even when they aren't formalised and still emerging. The Skype team is quickly learning (or understands) that they are redefining communications. Their challenge will be to "embrace" the "talking community", not just the technology. They have a unique opportunity. I don't know one major telecom company that talks "phoning", they talk regulations, price plans, coverage, and have forgotten the pleasure of just using the phone. In this Skype starts with an inherent brand advantage making accessible the idea of using the phone in ways we have never comprehended it before. Concurrently, "chat" never provided the pleasure that a new "voice" call could provide.

    Why this potential? Skype is quickly gaining mindshare for providing some the of the best first initial conversations amongst bloggers. Cost prohibits most from starting them with a regular phone. It's also holding up pretty well as a beta. I added China to my country calls today and gained learnings I otherwise would not have had. We used to blog for comments. Quite possibly we will soon blog for calls. Frankly it is much more engaging.

    For Skype blogs are playing an unexpected role and I've found myself engaged and enjoying this process. What's different. Well I'm willing to bet that Skype is the first company to get near 1million downloads in a month with visible blogging support well in advance of all major newspapers. While working in their favor they are learning far more rapidly than any traditional "market research" program for finding and understanding users and their experiences. In the beginning they could talk to everyone. It was their friends and their friends friends. A typical beta product. Serious Play. Prototype to success. Except it only lasted 3 or 4 days before they had 5000 and then 10000 online regularly. By the end of the week we will see 1 million downloads and at least 100K people (probably more - just guessing) using Skype daily.

    So I was please to find today that Skype has launched a Forum. It's positive, an excellent way to continue the dialogue acceleration with users. I expect it won't be too long before they think though how they can become the first "blog Brand success". In a way this began early. Bloggers putting Skype buttons on their sites. They've also been adding "Goodies" with Skype Me! buttons and further instructions. That's a good sign. They are adapting quickly. I still want them to provide a least a blog a day on the home page, early adopters want information, more stats, simple announcements. We added a forum today, provided a new release etc. Tell us something about your lists, your people, policies you are wrestling with. There will also be good stories and great suggestions.

    That may also be a dilemma and provide an an interesting transition for the Kazaa founders. Persecuted by the RIAA from the beginning with Kazaa - it was almost an underground movement that grew much faster than they probably expected. Tainted with spyware associations they are now involved in something very different and even more challenging. In their shoes I might be reticent to follow a madman who promotes they go blogging. However, their message ---- including joy of communicating really has to be public and transparent. It's not about multiple identities, or file sharing, it's about connecting, communicating and relationships. They are real stories. The stories that Skype is enabling need to be told. The way to do it, is to let Skypers tell them and new users see them. From here on out 99% of new users won't be bloggers. Concurrently you are competing against some of the largest consumer ad budgets in the world. Skype must not only work virally (seems to) but must be infectious.

    Before my rave above I took a quick journey though the "stories", "support", and "suggestions" in the new forum. It reinforced to me how easy it must remain to get Skyping. Here's an example of the positive vibes. :: View topic - Great work! Here is some suggestions!

    Some features to be added:
    * Multiple connections of calls (able to talk to more people than one)
    * Answering machine! (Able to give a short message to you're skype if you're not answering)
    * An "expert mode" to change sound quality, how much bandwidth it can use, and which soundcard it should use as output (NOT PRIMARY FFS )

    To compete with messenger you should add these features:
    * Text chat window with a new kind of "richedit" so it changes a smiley to a Link links, etc
    * Sending files to eachother
    * A drawing board, so it is possible to draw what you're talking about.

    If all these features are installed to Skype this will take over the messenger "marked" if there is one. I would definitly uninstall trillian, messenger, yahoo, aol and all the other lamers, you guys ROCK!

    I tend to agree. However I wouldn't get overconfident. I could write both Microsoft scenarios and one's for emergent competitors that still have the potential to blow Skype out before it gets too big. However they better be quick. If one needs an illustration you only have to look at all the "social networks". After trying 2 or 3 you get burned out and as we've seen it is difficult to "enhance" the messenger business. It may soon be difficult to better the "skype" business. Others tried to follow eBay into auctions and failed. It will require more than just "one-click" calling to catch them. Becomes even more difficult if we like both the people and the community behind it.

    Here is just one example of the creativity already flooding into Skype. Portability in a way I hadn't thought of before. :: View topic - USB key(ondisk) installable

    I'm travelling for the next 3 weeks, visiting friends and whatnot. I have a usb key (64mb memory) and a usb headset. It would be great (possibly this already can be done) to install Skype to the key, and not to my friends machines. That way my personal info is stored on the key.

    There's a TV program I really hate. It's called "Friends". It may just be part of the message that can close the brand story tonight. Keep making the Skype site more approachable. Like "Friends" the TV show (before it got long in the tooth and please not assoicated with one personality) it is hip and youthful, about a group, growing together.... I'm a little wary of a "Friends" directory, (sign-up) and yet there are many "friends" of causes. There might just be a more powerful movement in there to be set up semi-autonomously. Plus this time users have both more $ in play and are more likely to understand the impact this shift to "local world" calling on the globe. Anyone want to flesh out what a "Friends of Skype" could do?

    October 2, 2003

    Conference Mobbing? - AirCQ

    A few weeks ago I was frustrated because so many conferences I've attended don't yet have WiFi and the organizers simply don't get it. At others there is a real reticence to bringing it in. As a participant I lose out. Connections not made etc. Then depending on the conference there isn't even a list of participants Even if there is an IRC channel it is seldom that I can understand all the names, so exchanging details rather than quick observations isn't enhanced. Then along comes AirCQ and I wonder if it is a product that can put conference mobbing (for the WiFi enabled)in the users hands!

    After gaining a wonderful set of comments from Robert Mao and Skyping with him in more detail I downloaded AirCQ (Seek You on Air) to my two WiFi card enabled laptops, turned off the WiFi in the home. Then with the two computers began a chat session, including voice and cams. No wires, just simply peer to peer. As soon as the second PC was on the buddy list expanded to include that persons name and info. It was easy to share a simple social networking vcard. More complicated searches are possible. It would make for a pretty neat Ryze mixer (when everyone gets WiFi PDA's). It would be a great experiment at BloggerCon this weekend so I shared it with Phil Wolff who has a box seat there. Unfortunately the Mac guys don't get it yet. Still there will be enough PC's in the audience to make it an interesting test. Probably work well at a gaming convention too.

    There are minor quibbles I have with the current explanations, and I did find I had to reboot before it worked. Some of the icons are questionable and the data profile too topically structured. I've got more learning to do before I can make additional comments. Again - the technology is not new. Even kids toys (Cybiko) can do elements of this. What's new is our growing awareness that these tools can be used to build and share social capital, in ways that can't be foreseen without sharing a little. The mobs that activate at conferences will get more out of them. The individuals that go seeking matches at a location improve their chances of success. On AirCQ no network connections are required.

    Instant potential for proximity sensitive matching for those with similar interests. Some more work on the profiles and you realize that that they can be turned off and on at will. Multiple profiles become pretty interesting. Once we are all enabled with simple WiFi enabled gadgets and without a centralized database I could be shopping and receiving special offers. "Sense and Respond" retailing. Similarly I could be rushing through an airport when it could notify me that someone who is a friend of a friend (this friend is in common) is in my proximity. Thus the spontaneous chance to meet and chat.

    With my Skype fever I'm also inclined to look at AirCQ and ask what might it enable if engineered to "voice" introduce rather than chat first. Texting on small gadgets is difficult. photos are increasingly easy to look at, quick profiles to read. In the convention halls arranging meetings or leaving voice mails in this way would be just perfect. Adding to your friends list, and later being able to Skype them.

    Overall AirCQ still leaves me with questions. In this format it appears to offers me little utility unless I'm with a mob group of conference attendees or similar environment (huge bar, Disneyland etc.). Then I could use it. I'd like to know more about security, etc. Revamp some elements, add in phone attributes, and AirCQ to landline and we are getting closer to a very neat "relationship building communicator". What do others think? .

    Phone Buttons for Skype? Shortcuts?

    Now that the phone is in my PC I need some new buttons. You know the simple keys to answer, to ring, to switch from speakers to headphones on answer and back on hang-up. A quick key to bring up my directory. Rather than finding my mouse and clicking. Might be nice if IBM or Dell integrated "Skype" buttons on the laptop. With a PDA in the future I'll just want a press to answer and again to hang-up. At the moment I'm inevitably looking for the Skype window to "hang-up". Both of us have opened other screens. It's two clicks to hang up and there is an unnatural delay while we both struggle to "red" the phone.

    In the short term.... Are shortcut keys possible? Can I put the shortcuts in my Outlook? Can I use a Cntrl -"a" to answer and switch to headphones? Or can I just assign F10 anwer, F11 hangup, F12 directory? Can I dial frommy skype directory with the digits of a persons name?

    Anyone out there enhanced their keyboard yet to do this??? What's the answer?

    Skype Dropped Calls

    Just realized there is another shortcut I want. It is a last number redial. I know Skype is in beta, yet today on one call I got a significant number of disconnects. Now that may not have anything to do with Skype. I may have just wandered out of the zone. What I need is a sound alert --- that the signal is broken and a shortcut or quick key to confirm a redial.

    Separately, I guess my disconnect during call rate is increasing. I've got no way of measuring the statistics for dropped calls. However, if I was a first time user and getting the drop call performance I had on this call then I might be less than impressed. I wonder what statistics could be contributed --- feed Skype with without breaching any privacy issues? Would it help?

    October 6, 2003

    Many to Many Gripes on Skype

    Danah, I really enjoy your blogs ConnectedSelves and Zephoria, and your latest entry on Many to Many. I can’t find you on Skype which is a minor gripe. Thus I have no way on knowing how “DEEP” your “Skype” experience is.   However I do like the challenge you have framed:

    " What is it about Skype that motivates you?  Do you think its popularity will be limited to specific communities? 

    To pick up on what I've said before re better platform I’ve posted 10 points below where I think Skype may redefine some behaviors.  I don’t see why it should be limited to a specific community.  For a long time we operated with the postal system.  Then we got the telephone.  Much later we got e-mail on computers and then IM instant messenger came along.  Along the way we have had a few forums, wiki’s blogs etc.  Yet even e-mail isn’t everywhere. We all still know people that may never be on it in their lifetimes. I’m hypothesizing that Skype may enable technology to reach back and suck a new group into the computing generation.

    Examples where Skype has the potential to redefine behavior. Are we seeing anything emerging? From changes in mindset to intimacy and gossip. It's not yet a case, here are some thoughts:

    1.Mindset:  While Skype is connecting (I’m hearing ringing) my mind is running a thousand silent scenarios, I’m preparing to tune in to you.  This is fundamentally different from Chat.  If I send a chat note – I’m framing something you may not want, or may not provide the same meaning it does for me.  It may well fall in a lower priority.  Voice…. I know I get no answer either not there, leave a message or call later.  Compared the alternatives with the chat initiation.  It may have just been the wrong moment and yet it frames an experience, one that is more sensually deprived.  Thus we don’t use chat for things that are important unless we know the other party very very well. That may be changing in corporate environments, particularly where “knowledge” of each other already exists.  Hi Danah…(chat screen): I have the document you want.  Let me send it through. Alternatively with Skype (presume we will get the functionality) now in voice while you are waiting to receive the file I could have added a couple of comment re amendments, additional thoughts or next steps. I can add more than you can type in that same time.  When the send file is completed I know the call may also be finished.   This adds an immediacy and action to what is being done.  From my perspective this makes the exchange or transaction more personal, more social. 

    2. Intimacy and Intensity: I have an IM address for you.  We have never spoken before.  I like your blog.  I can IM “I like your blog” or I can phone and your can hear my enthusiasm and interest.  I can hear whether you have time now or whether we are even likely to connect at another time.  What’s this saying?  I believe I can make a better assessment of the value of the interaction using voice. It’s more likely to create a sense of intimacy and sharing.  Potentially it’s much more intense.  That may just be why, we can handle multiple chats, but sense when someone in a voice call is “doing other things”.  Similarly if I’d like to send you an e-mail with a document attachment that I’m not 100% satisfied with.  I want to personalize my discomfort and not commit it to text.  How much time is wasted when you are striving for perfection when a quick look by another will just move it forward.  So I Skype and send the file though concurrently when I know you are online.

    3. . Managing Synchronicity - Availability Management: If you are willing to make your availability known to me I may well be able to share my messages and manage my contacts with you more appropriately using both text and voice.   Good time management suggests scheduling time for calls. Similarly, a call made at the wrong moment can be equally embarrassing to the caller.  (I need my cell on for an emergency call from my kids, but I really don’t want to be disturbed by anyone else.  Whether on your cell-phone or landline I can’t currently tell if this would be a problem.  Unless the
    cell-phone is turned off or the plug pulled.  So if Skype availability followed you around and you managed your family, business and personal connections, I’d stand a better chance of getting it right.  Skype is already close.  The semi-synchronous aspect already appliers to Skype. When someone is on “away” or “do not disturb” I can still send them the message.  I can currently phone them, but I usually wouldn’t.  Set some more granularities and I may know whether they will accept messages from me at certain times.   For example, I’m a member of a club; I may not want inquiries to the treasurer during my work hours.  Yet I’d be informing them… with an auto response.  Thanks for your message; it’s been delivered to my message center and I’ll take care of it before x.. 

    4. Quality & Mobility:  I think your perspective and usage is tied to the current form of mobile cellular telephony.  I’ve had Skype conversations from WiFi hotspots to all over the world.  The quality has been better than any cell phone or landline.  As perspective, my cell phone (Verizon) is poor to useless at home.  It usually sucks when I’m on vacation too.  Yes SMS and Messenger services are extending to mobiles.  Skype potentially takes this convergence one step closer to the computer.  Similarly it begins to demonstrate how we can get rid of the numerical key board.  Ultimately what matters is that our communications system is there when we want it.  Personally I’d prefer to know that my Message center is everything.  I’ve also  posted a set of links that suggest hooking Skype to your home phone is not all that difficult.  What’s more this 50-$75 type gadget (currently) means that you are not tied to the computer and the person on the computer can go on working, and even playing their music.  We can expect a lot of innovation in this area

    5. Radically Lowered Cost:  Have you even been in an environment where the cost of the call was a barrier?  I’ve effectively lived with it in someway or another since I was a child.  I still remember having to book calls for Christmas to the UK and then only having a very few minutes. Two things.  I expect “voice” to increase the number of inquiries that lead to a successful form of connection.  I also expect as cost goes to zero that calls and inquiries I could have never made will become possible.  For example there are art direct programs from South America – I could order from photos before, now I could actually talk to the local retailer or even the Artist. Alternatively, I could never have afforded to advertise on Craigslist in India and then interview Indian software engineers.  Now I can. The cost to me in time is the same regardless of where they are.  The cost of the call isn’t.    Separately, I’d really like to see that data that proves SMS is popular because it doesn’t disrupt the environment.  I think it more likely that it’s popular because it’s cheap and the “connectivity” quotient for all these teenagers goes up exponentially. 

    6.Voice IRC??? Voice may be disruptive in public environments.  We all agree.  There are also times where an always on voice connection could act just like an IRC channel.  Some people may actually enjoy listening to these things.  They exist already in some Yahoo chatrooms, and yet there are also studies where receiver based communications have proven to accelerate the transfer of knowledge.  We still need Skype to provide the conferencing capability. Then we might find it really connects us up.  Now you have a virtual office where you can still here the shouts over the cubicles. Just like the kid studying at home who shuts his brothers and sisters out, to tune it just when important.  It’s another skill.  

    7.Changing Desktop: I’ve adopted a second screen.  My screen in front of me is for working.  My right screen is for communications, messenger clients etc.  I’m wondering if my traditional screen is "productivity” and my new screen will emerge as “connectivity”, managing my networks etc.  What intrigues me is my Skype list is now larger / longer than
    any IM list I have ever had. (It will need to columize and have alphabetical buttons before long)  Possibly in my “group” we are doing a better job of adopting it than we did with IM. Statistics like those are worth looking at.  Similarly the number of transactions we are all having..  I’d also note that not all are voice initiated.  Many are begun with a text note. 

    8. Gossip Coordination: I’ve seen my daughter managing six screens and being on the phone at the same time.  That’s possible without tying up the landline or for many of her friends that are on dial-up connections, with Skype they now have a new opportunity.  Will gossip spread faster or be more accurately I don’t know.  Text helps with one form of negotiation. I also see other aspects in this.  When everyone is texting multiple buddies then no one is left out.  Everyone can be pushing their point of view.  We can listen to more than one at once.  Clearly that’s a benefit when new ideas are emerging.  It’s part of smart mobs.  I can’t see why Skype with better chat functionality can’t provide all of this and enable further enhancements.   

    9. Presence Detection:  I think it is a very interesting area.  See AirCQ.  Add to this functionality that enables more detailed profiles to be exchanges and sitting in the café square becomes a whole new experience.  As I’ve written before there are also some dangers in it.  See Trepia. 

    10. Oldtimers. Overcoming the PC e-mail chat barrier.  My mother has never worked with e-mail, definitely won’t engage in chat and yet is very comfortable with the telephone.  Skype’s voice centric first experiences provides a better bridge to computing than e-mail or IM for those that never made the transition.  The key here is simplicity.  Separately, I while noting above that one may not need to be tied to the pc for the phone feature  --- add video and taking calls whether with a handset or headset becomes a whole new experience.  From there to playing a song for them or sending to a map or piece of information becomes many times easier. The experienced is enhanced, the capability to interface for learning and sharing is advanced.  This is even truer if you never learned how to type very fast. 

    And one for luck...
    11 Quality: To repeat a phase from the comments.  You can hear the difference.  When you start from the ground up you build something that works which may follow different rules.  Microsoft can follow my providing a “voice – centric” option in MSN 7.0  and yet the quality still won’t be as effective, unless they change something in their codec.  Microsoft really can’t afford to say stuff the old regulations.  So they are likely to be stuck with poorer quality and a higher cost structure.  So if it comes to community, the one community that Skype has to really capture is those “texters”.  The way to do that is to provide enough customization, plug-in opportunities etc. so the young programmers make it cooler quicker.  They’ll skin it change icons, create supplemental profiles, new voice aps (sound like…..) etc.  Concurrently, there are business products for companies and new service providers. 

    PS: Want to add that SkypeMe button.

    October 7, 2003

    Skype Indicators

    What do the changeable indicators in Skype mean? Away, Not Available, Do Not Disturb etc? If it says Not Available, can I still send a text message or is that rude? From observations. My buddies are using them. So what do other users think Skype changeable status indicator means?.  I'd note there is some demand for providing proper advice. TDavid wrote a nice enhancement for possible later integration for bloggers running a callto tag. However this post is more to do with what do they mean and to illustrate how they may differ from the standard IM programs and behavior.  They are my interpretation really from my experience.  Not much of a sample.  Let's hear other points of view!

    The key learning is:

  • provide an answer machine system in both text and voice formats integrated into a message center.
  • enable the capability to manage indicator disclosures by category - eg family, business, personal, etc.
  • allow me a custom announcement field.
  • allow announcements to be tied to a calendar.


    IM Programs

    Skype Now

    Skype Wants






    Online: You will probably find me at my desk, I’m not idle

    Online: I’ll probably hear the ring, and may or may not be able to take the call. 

    Voice Mail capability and to be able to sort access by categories; eg friends, businees, family etc.


    I may not answer your message right away

    Best to send me a message and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.  If I’m on the phone I may answer the text chat straight away.

    Know when a person is in a “text” is better mode. 

    Not Available

    Not much point in sending me a chat message right now.  Unlikely to get a quick response. 

    Unlikely to get any quick response to either a call or chat message.  If you ring and I see the log I will probably call you back. May be tomorrow. Can leave a text message.  Probably sleeping. 

    Automatically to Voicemail. Possibly with call back times capability.  I’m probably away from the base station..  

    Do Not Disturb

    Not sure why I’m logged on…. Don’t disturb.

    Prefer no interruptions,

    No chat or calls.  Everything to my message / log center for later. 


    Available:  On IM it means you can have secret long chats with someone without the whole world knowing. 

    Available.  Hiding? All calls are on my terms. If I learn that someone uses it and I need to call them will probably call them anyways.  (Not sure what hiding on Skype accomplishes.  If someone tries to call you and you are on the phone for an hour then you were on the phone for an hour.) 

    Does this mean no calls in?

    Should I have a toggle so I don’t accept calls from “Invisible” Skypers?  Of course I’m invisible to all of those I’ve not authorized. 

    My specification

    It can be anything.  Some are quite creative, and share mood, desires, location etc. 

    Not available and we will all want it. 

    Will want to be able to turn these on by category.  For example for family I may just want the announcement to say Happy Birthday X! Whereas to my blog list I may want my latest Blog title. 

    Note potentially I want to turn these on by category.  Some of these settings may be more generic.  My Family may see me all the time.  While business contacts may find a not available on weekends.  Tie these to voice and chat mail instructions and they instantly become more relevant. 

  • Phones and Skype

    One of the things that many users hate is putting on the headset to use Skype. When will you be using a real telephone with Skype? It may not be long. I've had Skypers call me using telephone handsets. I bet it changes the experience for them. So if you are uncomfortable using a headset and losing your media player then these solutions may interest you. If you are using these already. Please leave your comments. Others will appreciate the wisdom that comes from use!

    There are different ways to attach a phone to your computer. Add a phone and the computer just becomes another gateway to the phone system. I've seen these examples on the web and have a few parts on order. In some cases the cost will have to come down. However $15-25 for a headset vs $50- $75 for a phone may just make Skype a little more natural for many.

    Connecting your Cordless Home Phone to Skype:Take a look at this product. A USB to RJ11 (phone jack) with innards by TigerJet

    The benefits of this USB connection is the additional sound card; thus you can use the phone while your child continues to use the PC for homework or playing music. I'm waiting to try this with Skype set on automatic answer and an answerphone connected which answers on the first ring. Has anyone tried this?

    Buy a USB enabled VoIP phone. If you don't have an old fax or extra cordless laying around this phone the USB phone is separate from your desktop music system. Thus the phone can ring. No need to plug in the headset which you couldn't hear ringing in the other room. Like the solution above the numerical dial pad currently means nothing with Skype. Maybe in time those "tones" will enable short code dialing to Skype friends. Simply first two or three digits. of a persons name should do it. #788 - Ring Stu...

    USB phone.jpg

    It's not alone; See this Claris i750 review. There are many more much more expensive. Most are linked to corporate VoIP applications. See this listing and take a look at this Innovative Wireless IP Phone with Integrated Voice and Internet Network through IEEE 802.

    There are other low cost solutions in the works. Similarly some bluetooth solutions with newer cellphones will enable you to answer these calls when in range. This may just be becoming a very interesting category.

    If you are interested in thinking further about how to share or use Skype to dial locally or internationally it may just be closer than you think. Check out this Personal Dialing Gateway product. For example if I install it in a friendly computer in New Zealand. All my calls from any Internet gateway in the world to New Zealand and that calling area are free (of course I must have internet access.)

    October 8, 2003

    What Will Tip the Old Phone System?

    What are some of the barriers Skype must overcome to tip the phone system? There are some STEEP barriers. It's by no means a home run. Skype is the most "disruptive innovation" so far targeting traditional telecom. Something like it has been on their radar for years. Like Napster and Kazaa are the worst nightmare for the RIAA --- Skype is is emerging similarly for telecommunications companies.

    Why disruptive? What makes Skype so devastatingly effective? First adopt a sound system that doesn't require any backwards compatibility. No legacy. Better sound with lower cost. Just like moving from LP records to CD's. Ignore the established telecoms centralized regulated way of thinking and build it from the ground up. Ignore the centralized model of other VoIP startups and get going. Then redefine channels and access. Art Janke in a nice Darwin article asks "When will the tipping point be reached?"

    Compared to music the barriers are different:
    There is a barrier or investment required for using Skype that didn't exist with the launch of Napster. There was no cost of equipment to tip. You simply downloaded MP-3 files and began playing them within Napster. With the learning you may have gone out and bought a bigger disk drive, better sound card etc. However you got to do that after your first experience. By then you were already hooked.

    Friends, and Initial Costs: The barrier to Skype's tipping point is higher. With free calls, that provides fun to begin, although I may need a headset and microphone ($15 - $25). Still there are no calls if you don't have friends. To really take off it will need a cost or social incentive. Recruitment isn’t for everyone. Currently the beta search function is limited. The Skype Team also won't want to clog up the P2P system with detailed profiles. Thus clip-on profiles will need to be enabled between individuals and potentially connected to Skype via Enhanced Skype Profile Exchanges. Eg I provide the database, you are a member. You can search profiles and when you are both online I will connect you. Call this the blind date call example. Thus a better socializing opportunity than the current e-mail based systems. Keen is another example of this.

    The Headshift Barrier. The computer is not a phone factor. Moving people to thinking about a new program that resides on their computer as the "glue" for integrating all their phone numbers, key contact details, communication handsets, messages, etc is too complex. Simply boxes that connect Skype to real phones will help with the learning curve. Then... video will revolutionize the experience. The glue will be social before it sets.

    The Landline - Broadband trade-off. Skype must move us off landlines, integrate personal phone numbers, and provide improved protection from unwanted disruptions (telemarketers). Enabling anyone anywhere to call me on Skype from a landline will enable me to cancel my home SBC account. Vonage demonstrates that in some instances your current number can be reassigned. This then means you must have a fulltime computer on at your house via a broadband connection for your number to be available! Packaging this with clear communications and instructions is not a simple job. Bundling with cable suppliers may provide an interesting option.

    First Experience : Connection difficulties, poor sound, learning to make it work and inadequate equipment can make a lousy first time use. We don't know very much about failed first experinces. However, knowledgeable people that say... "tried it" forget it influence others. Similarly we have comment imposters.

    The Chat Hurdle Youthful IM'ers disparage the product for poor texting capabilities without ever experiencing or understanding opportunities for voice. These text centric individuals may be the hardest to convert and could become loud critics. The upside, Skype is an underdog trying to do something different. Provide the texting solutions and keep the advertising out.

    Other possible barriers: Regulatory threats. Threatening letters from your broadband providers. Badboy or spyware associations. Spam calls, breakdowns in security or privacy.

    While these are generic it will be worth watching the reasons why individuals become advocates.

    What might signal tipping points for certain individuals. (without being able to dial a traditional phone number)

  • Their Skype buddy lists are more complete than their other IM clients. I use it as my predominant method for connecting and exchanging information.
  • When my business calls savings exceed 50% by value, rather than by number. Likely to have a large international component.
  • When the primary inquiries from my website come via the SkypeMe callto: tag.
  • Have purchased or connected permanently a VoIP telephone to an always on base computer and integrated an answerphone system.

    I'm sure there are more. Sometime in the next few days I'm also going to address the enterprise opportunity.

    In the meantime I find I am now a VoIP user watching a ridiculous debate. I don't use any of the traditional California VoIP provider services. I use Skype. I'm not a telephone operator, unless having multiple computers now makes me one.

    Techweb California to VoIP Operators: You're Regulated

    California's telecommunications division said this week that major VoIP providers, including Vonage, VoicePulse, SBC Communications, Net2Phone and Packet8, have been told to apply for telephone-operator licenses. The action is a disappointment for the VoIP companies, which had argued that they should remain unregulated because their traffic moves over the Internet.

    Where does this leave me? Next thing we know... we will have to apply for the equivalent of the old TV licenses that many countries apply.

  • Skype Supernodes Explained

    The Register discloses how Skype gets though firewalls. (Matt Mower, Peter O'Kelly, Antville, and O'Reilly Developers get it too....

    "Without being too technical, each Skype client is always connected to a SuperNode (any Skype client can become a SuperNode, the SuperNode is acting as a hub). SuperNodes are always on routable open IP addresses. When a call is set up the established TCP connection with the SuperNode is used to signal that a call is coming. Dependent on the firewall status of the client the data stream is set up either as UDP (if firewall allows) or in worse case as outgoing TCP which is almost always allowed. If both clients are only allowed to do outgoing TCP calls are routed through another peer."

    In other words you get to know there is a call for you and you make the outgoing connection to a known supernode to meet the call. Neat. The Register

    Skype and Glance

    How do you Skype in a teaching or mentoring mode and enhance the experience? I had just that experience today when introduced to Glance a simple service for instantly showing a live view of your PC screen to anyone you choose.

    I began by introducing Skype functions from sending contacts to sharing further links though text IM. Then Charles began sharing with me exactly what he was seeing on his screen after we both logged into Glance. All of a sudden I could see exactly what he was looking at on his computer. If I had been the instructor it would have been perfect for sharing a presentation or opening a document and pointing to specific points while we talked. I know you can synch what you are looking at in Groove. However, here I didn't have to install anything extra. I just keyed in the simple URL and I was looking at what he was sharing. (I then moved it to my second screen, thus retaining the flexibility to continue the chat and other searches that I was doing.)

    Had I had a Glance account then there is no reason we couldn't have had instant two-way sharing.

    Unfortunately Glance only offers a one day trial. That's not really long enough for me to work out how to commit to $20 to $40 per month. I could easily run one-on-one blog training etc with it. A two way application would be preferred. I'd see a neat opportunity to match this with TDavid's talkback broadcast approach. I'd keep it in mind if I was running an online class. If I got 25-40 to sign up tomorrow for a one hour class on Newsreaders at even $10 per head it could be an interesting proposition. It makes a conference Skype even more interesting.

    Is it too expensive? Depends on your criteria. I'd think this is the type of additional functionality that could be enabled with either a plug-in to Skype or some enterprise version. Surfing together while speaking opens many new doors. Browser to browser is better than text box, hyperlink, open, is he looking???

    ISP's Crack Down on IM - VoIP Programs

    Dina's comments on What Would You Pay For Skype? meant I caught this newsflash on Indian ISP's and VoIP. May not impact on Skype the same way. Just another way for the incumbents to drive users away. First close chatrooms, second block access, and then refuse to interconnect with programs like Trillian.

    In a related development, a large section of domestic (Indian) ISPs have decided to crack down on Internet portals such as MSN and Yahoo!, which offer voice chat facilities on their websites. According to ISPAI secretary Amitabh Singhal, "From a strictly legal point of view, if these portals do not have ISP licences, they cannot offer voice calls over the Internet.

    Either they should get an ISP licence or get into tie-ups with an ISP that has a licence for offering Internet telephony services. Therefore, there is now a move within the ISP community to bring these portals into the revenue share loop as well." Net2Phone may share revenue with local ISPs - The Economic Times

    Flashtalk or Skype?

    Flashtalk is a new "talking instead of typing" application. It's not Skype and potentially aimed at a different market. I've already discarded it unless someone gives me a real good reason to continue.

    Quickly compared to Skype it doesn't offer a text chat function, is less intuitive and is a little too e-mail centric re adding friends for my liking. I managed one call using their "Find a Friend" function. The voice quality was less than I've experienced on Skype. On the plus side add more search capabilities and the dating sites will have to change their execution. It demonstrates how this would work. There can't be many on it for I'm still waiting to be connected to another friend.


    A person identifying themselves as Stuart Henshall is using an amazing new communications product called FlashTalk, that lets people speak to each other over the Internet, without any per minute or per call cost, much like instant messaging but without any typing.
    Stuart Henshall has defined this email address (xxxxxx ) as their primary email address when using FlashTalk, which allows people within the FlashTalk network to contact Stuart using this email address.

    October 12, 2003

    Skype Lists - Social Networks

    Nothing really new on Skype from the New York Times today. While on other fronts Ecademy was first to announce their Skype Club. This won't be the first. You can continue to track Skype Bloggers on Feedster

    To Whom May I Direct Your Free Call?

    IN a recent report on the telecommunications industry, Daiwa Securities wrote that Skype "is something to be scared of, and is probably set to become the biggest story of the year'' in the telecom sector. "We think the Skype offering (and whatever may follow it) is akin to a giant meteor hurtling on a collision course toward Earth," the report said.

    October 13, 2003

    The Desktop Phone

    Michael Robertson has the opinion that SIPphone will overrun Skype. I'm not so sure, and maybe it doesn't matter. What is emerging is the looming battle for putting the phone in your desktop. Plus in all of the scenarios I've read so far... the one card that is never mentioned is Video.

    MR "So Skype is a nice little experiment but it will get quickly run over by SIP."

    However, his comment on behaviors are more interesting. That is where the real value added opportunities are. Controlling our communications from our computers. As many note. The number is not important. What can the profile tell me? The real opportunities are cast in simple language below. There is lots more we could do and will see.

    Micheal Robertson - more:

    So I would love to see, from my computer, who's on the phone. I want to see that it's so-and-so who lives in such-and-such country. I would love my instant messenger to pop up and for me to be able to say: 'I'm in a meeting right now, send that guy to voice mail.' I'm not going to be able to do that from the phone handset. I need to be able to do that from some interactive, instant messaging type program. It would be great if I could see someone's name, click 'voice mail' and it would send the message on to voice mail.
    You're going to see a lot of things where there are intersections between the phone, instant messaging and email.
    They want to go cordless. They don't want to be tethered. And we're working on that. We'll have a cheap adaptor that we'll sell that will allow you to go to Walmart, buy a cordless phone, plug it in and use that as your SIPPPhone. That'll be before the end of the year at about the same price point. So they want cordless. They want conferencing. They want to be able to conference two or three, primarily offices. That's another big feature request that we get.

    Internet "Bad Boy" Michael Robertson on the Future of Phones :: :: A user's guide to the communications revolution

    More Slashdot on Skype

    Slashdot is having fun with Sipphone and Skype.

    I found this quote lost in with the FBI.... "Having run Skype for a while now, it seems to have fairly low latency - on the order of about .4 seconds which is far better in my use, which is far better than the 1.5 - 2 seconds of many other VoIP programs I've looked at." It's not a table and isn't specific. It sounds material...

    NY Times on VoIP, Skype Profile and the FBI

    There's a much better VoIP discussion here for those that care.

    MICHAEL Robertson Talks VoIP With Voxilla

    At the moment I just use it. I'd happily pay something for some additional functionality. See earlier postings "What will you pay for Skype?" and "Skype Wants Functionality" For the first Slashdot on Skype link here.

    October 14, 2003

    Strip The Verbage and Cautious Industry Leader Skypes

    Jeff Pulver blogs the Skype story. His view of Skype appears softer less bullish than mine. The overall post focused on the technology, and the length of time "similar" VoIP has been around. However, strip away the extra verbage and this (my bold) is what he says...

    Skype provides a freely available product that well, just works. And this is a breakthrough and is a significant step forward in the evolution of consumer VoIP services.

    The Skype team has proven to me that there are millions of people who don't mind using their PCs as a platform to communication. Until now this was an open question in my mind.

    One should thank the Skype team for an application which is helping to introduce a new generation of people to the killer app of the Internet...Voice.

    As Skype continues to evolve as an internet application, it will be real interesting to watch how extensions to Skype based presence starts to evolve and the kinds of additional connectivity which becomes available as a result of the advent of Skype.

    . [The Jeff Pulver Blog]

    Interesting how one well designed user experience can shift a whole paradigm of thinking. Skype is moving voice management to the fringe or edge of the network and beginning the integration with your desktop. If you read this blog and I've not convinced you yet to SkypeMe! (except for old computers etc.) then I should be ashamed of my persuasive powers.

    If you run a small virtual business... start using Skype as an "intercom". You can bet the Skype guys do. If you run up international phone calls it makes sense in minutes. My capability and access for collaborating globally has increased n-fold since Skype. Small business put a button on your site. You might just learn something.

    If you have any interest in the "desktop" and user behavior then get Skype. If you want me to run a research project for you on Skype I will. Similarly, if you are one of those doubters, or tried it but only have one or two names still on your list. Go out and get some more. And this is why. Because this is becoming my directory. It is more rewarding than my e-mail contact list. It also provides better information symetry. I'd prefer to know how to call someone and text than not call and only send e-mail. Plus with this why do I need Plaxo?

    Finally, with all the talk about digital identity.... I find myself with a real name on a real system, simply because it is almost always on. Skype has a lot of real names on it. Ask yourself why is that? Then start thinking about Social Networks for Spam Control. I am!

    October 23, 2003

    Slate Notices Skype

    The articles on Skype keep rolling in. This one from Slate illustrates the impact that disruptive technologies have on incumbents. It's better late than never.

    In the less than two months it's been available, 1.6 million people have downloaded the software, setting a world record for this kind of thing. As a crude measure of buzz, after six weeks of life the word "Skype" generates more than 2.8 million pages on Google. As a point of comparison "KaZaA," which is Skype's progenitor (the two Swedes who invented KaZaA invented Skype), appears nearly 4.4 million times. You Can Hear Verizon Now - But can you hear it later? By David S. Bennahum

    October 24, 2003

    Friends and the Identity Circle

    A very nicely put article from Robert Cringely on privacy and identity. He suggests we use our friend of a friend networks to control spam, and provide a degree of verification. This is just the sort of enablement I need for my Skype Caller ID processing. I want a listed number and yet I don't want to be open to abuse. I wrote something similar on these pages some months back. I called it "Identity Circles" which build on "Identity Trust Circles".

    Make it one article to read!

    At one extreme, we have identity zealots who would plant microchips in our kids. At the other extreme, we have privacy zealots who don't want anyone anywhere to know anything about them or about what they do. Somewhere in the middle, we can probably place most of the rest of us. It is doubtful that we can fully satisfy both extremes at the same time, so the real question is what path will give us the most identity for the least loss of privacy or the most privacy with the least amount of identity?

    These concepts of identity and privacy are not polar opposites, though we treat them as such from a public policy standpoint.....PBS | I, Cringely . Archived Column

    October 26, 2003

    Welcome to Skype Country

    How big is Skype Country? How quickly are the settlers moving in? It is time to start thinking about Skypers like we think about country statistics. Already it is a group too small to ignore. As we approach 2 million downloads and 120000 Skypers online we are looking at an interesting group of people.

    Let's introduce some numbers from the 2001 New Zealand Census. At that time they had 1.24 million housholds with access to a phone and 482K with access to the internet. It's a real country. Is Skype already bigger?

    In Skype Country everyone has Internet even if only 50% completed the install and began using it. We are still approaching ONE MILLION SKYPEPHONES.

    Skype Mini Downloads.jpg

    View Large Graph

    Statistics like these raise more questions than answers. I'm still not sure how Skype counts entries into the cloud (or exits). So let's just stick with the idea that Skype Country is a very habitable place, rapidy growing.

    I'd also spend a moment to think about how people are spending their time in Skype country. Some are working hard, using Skype as a new work tool. Others are using it for more personal connections. In the end... Skypers are likely to be spending more time in front of their computers, away from traditional phones and possibly more away from the TV.

    That means there are marketing implications for Skype Country. Take a tour, immigrate, see what you think. Some early settlers are already putting down stakes and claims.

    Perspective Note:
    The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) publishes an annual report which gives an overview of telephone usage in the United States. The most recent data were for 1997. Since US local calls are unmetered, the call cost being included in a flat-rate monthly tariff, the FCC gave an estimate that 2,683 billion local dial equipment minutes were used in 1997. This was based on a complete two week measurement of all local, intrastate and interstate phone traffic which the FCC requires every telephone service provider in the US to perform each year. When this two-week data set is expanded to a full year, the FCC considers the yearly figure to be accurate to within 10%. Because dial equipment minute data counts double for each phone call minute, and because it also includes the dialing and ring time, the FCC advises that it should be divided by 2.07 in order to convert it to phone call minutes. On this basis, 2,683 billion dial equipment minutes equates to 1,296 billion phone minutes or 20.3 minutes per day of local phone calls per local loop. Campaign for Unmetered Telecommunications - Features

    Skype Stories

    There's a place in the Skype forums for stories. For me even one story a week would make Skyping worthwhile. My latest --- I said I was going to Skype with Matt Mower and yesterday we did for over an hour. Think it was 1:00am in England when we finished. Still it was a neat call, and it covered more than just K-Collector.

    A good story has a twist or an unexpected connection. That what calling other SkypeBloggers provides. It's so often the unintended consequences of ones actions that are likely to pay the biggest dividends. Matt and I brokered a Marc Canter / K-Collector intro, a Phil Wolff Skype link in to something that potentially means much more than just reading another blog. On the K-Collector front, I'm keen to see his MT solution. Matt describes their Real-Time KM solution that will further accelerate conversations and learning. Matt used a phrase in our conversation "Bubbles to the Surface", it one we used in KCI many years ago round the Knowledge Capital Engine, an approach to spiraling value creation. Great ideas just bubble up just like a great champagne. Good conversations flow like Champagne.

    It's no mystery. Putting a real voice to a blog makes it much more personal, the words more important.

    While exchanging names he also mentioned Martin Hall, well known for his Systemic Values approach. Just happens that when I meet with Charles Savage - in the Bay Area later this week that he too is hoping to meet with Martin. As you can see from Martin's post, values analysis just provide another twist on how K-Collector may be stretched and I learn that he's been connecting with Terry Frazier too. Without Skype I would have missed all this.

    With this little twist (thanks Matt) Martin and I now just need to complete this new Skype connection. I'm sure we will tomorrow. Now that's what is neat about the combination of blogs and Skype. There's a lot more exchanging taking place. Take K-Collector and create power topics, get Skype to give us Conferencing capability and that may just rachet up another notch. Blogging alone was merely publishing. SkypeBlogging is more about networking and accelerating ideas. That certainly suits me just fine.

    October 27, 2003

    Skype Next Gen Caller ID Opp.

    Here's a small request for my readers at SKYPE. What I want is a version of the client that enables me to start playing with Next Generation CallerID. It's not a big ask.

    It goes like this. Next Gen Caller ID is where Skypephony really takes off. It's the point that enables all sorts of new social capital exchanges to happen. Similarly it enables the market for smart directories and other anonymous matching services. It's will also mandatory if we are to solve longer term "Caller Spam". Skype must enable smarter connections, Skype can't manage or even foresee all the filters we might each personally want. While companies and enterprises will have other requirements. So this says create the market. Facilitate the growth of next generation Caller ID services.

    For all purposes the traditional phone is limited to dumb or obvious connections. Augmented directories and friends of friends will enable a telephone system to revolve around social connectivity rather than electronic switches. Connections we want will lead to higher call rates and increase usage. More calls make Skype more valuable. Making the desktop part of the phone/communication management solution further changes the phone paradigm. It will also create other new products I'm not even going to speculate on here.

    So? What do I want? Skype should provide the client with the capability to turn on or off a Caller ID plug-in capability. Plug-ins may only work with premium versions. When activated my super Caller ID will be able to handle incoming call detection, putting it on hold, or post check... enabling it to resume and connect. It may link to various profiling services. They will be specified by me. It means I'll get a lot more than just a phone number when you call. It also means... those ID providers that fail me will simply lose my business.

    Do this right and it pays. There's a positive business model here. When can I have it? Thanks Skype?

    Now while I believe that communication management is a good thing. I'm not sure that a Skype plug-in is the only solution here. I'd appreciate any info on how to sniff out incoming callers, ID them and potentially relate them to other databases or information requests. Seems I ought to be able to do this on my desktop!

    October 30, 2003

    Private Global Intercom

    Will Skype have an enterprise play? When does it make sense to try it out? If I'm a small professional services company does it make sense to start using it? Examples. PR firms, Patent Attorneys, Systems Developers, Trade Advisors. Any firm with global alliances and a large number of international calls.

    When to start? Certain businesses will depend on understanding Skype. However most IT security departments would probably suggest that I am getting ahead of myself. Skype is still in beta. However I know a few businesses that are semi-virtual and operate around the world. Some of these have VoIP services although not all. Most aren't particularly sophisticated about tech, and have either a hard time managing it or find themselves paying big bills to keep things going. Frankly Skype is less likely in in current format to create holes or crash systems than anyone of the many other "venerabilities" they are likely to have.

    Consider Costs: For many small businesses upgrading their phone exchanges is an expensive business. For the more international practices communication costs are a key budget item. It is one the company doesn't like to think about. It is a cost of doing business. However, substantial reductions in cost and wasted time in terms of telephone tag suggest it may be an effective solution.

    Simple maths. At $20 per person this represents at 20cents per call it represents 100 calls with a duration of 10 minutes. At 1 dollar per call it is less than 20. Call India and the payback is probably one call.

    Is there a Trial Solution? However there's a simple solution you can create and populate immediately. Here's my 50 person dispersed office solution for today! We know Skype will come out with a corporate solution eventually. Give every employee Skype now. In the fifty person firm your investment will be about $1000 for the headsets assuming the computing equipment is less than three years old and are not a Mac shop. There are a few other pieces you need dependent on equipment available. The question is... what's the payout period?

    Short-term using two computers side by side you open accounts for everyone. Create a name that matches the e-mail name before the @. You create one master directory account for the company where you authorize all the accounts you just set up. Then when ready to go you issue the "memo" including the benefits. You may choose a couple of helpers. You send the e-mail with the download and install Skype instruction along with their log-in details and password. When installed they are to call your master directory account. You answer and using "tools" right click on their incoming call and "share all member directory contacts".... As the rest of the company gears up... each will be authorized. Time for 50 accounts? Less than 2 hours for the initial account definitions. Probably then fifteen minutes per person for their e-mail response. With a little help from some helpers... all done in a day.


  • Lower costs
  • Enhanced understanding of availability,
  • Less telephone tag

    Make sure to have your employees go through the "File" - "Options" with you. Complete their profiles, make sure they tick the "privacy" settings!

    A Private Intercom: Now you have a private corporate Intercom system. From a security standpoint it is better than the current telephone systems. The IM function currently doesn't allow send files. So unless I'm told otherwise the risk looks to be close to "zero" here.

    I'd expect in time employees will add some other "buddies" at the moment you can't monitor this. The employee instruction is they are to treat Skype like an additional phone on their desk. Thus they can't turn it off, just like they wouldn't think of pulling the cord out of the wall.

    So in the future what with the small to medium enterprise version provide?

  • It will adopt the e-mail address as the Skype address, enabling easy migration and corporate authentication that this really is an employee. NOTE the @ is not currently available in Skype.
  • It will provide additional security for "sent" files over the IM system.
  • It will provide degrees of access so profiles for teams, clients, etc.. can be managed separately.
  • Will enable you to manage a global directory of corporate contacts. etc.

    Willing to test? For companies in the useability and design industry I'd see this as a simple trial. I'm looking for a fifty person test! I'll help you put the case! I'd like to get the statistics one month later on the savings! Plus run a small survey. Any takers?

  • Contact Center Skyping

    Have you been wondering what the impact of Skype might be on Content Center Practice Management. Skype provide both potential opportunities and may also make short term marketing perspectives more difficult to manage.

    When I bought my new IBM recently I wish I could have just Skyped with the operator. Instead I had to hold a phone, dial a number and wait. I couldn't send the URL of the page... With Skype you can reduce the cost of the calls and begin to integrate screen, IM and voice connections when received. I know I can connect immediately. Simply illustrated by the "SkypeMe" button on my website. Similarly if I miss the call then it's logged. They can call me back.

    Clearly, there is no Skype "call center" capability yet, although TDavid illustrated how Various reps might be online / engaged etc with a simple system. I'd imagine a "next available" agent could work from a list that is periodically checked or notified when the agent is again free.

    However a Skype strategy may lose the capability to do things like reverse address look-up, telephone number searches and providing quick demographic profiling data dependent on the callers location. Then in certain situations, a smart operator may find ways to run Google searches, Ryze checks etc. The real determinant will be... what degree of anonymity is the contact using. We'll use less if we learn we get better service. Similarly if the contact center has some "privacy" and reputation criteria, I may allow a more detailed "inquiry profile" through.

    Then there is the contact center opportunity to press better profiles into the customers hand. When I get the rep on the phone "they aren't personalized" when I get one in Skype I may demand a more detailed profile in return. It helps to know who I am talking to. Humanize the connection. Enable me to rate the calls on completion etc. Now both parties are empowered to better connections.

    No matter how you look at it... this can't be done with the phone. The potential for a richer contact environment is here. What's your strategy for success?

    October 31, 2003

    New Skype Beta 0.94


    Skype launched Beta version 0.94 today with several enhancements, including language support for Spanish, Finnish, Polish and Romanian. There are also several improvements to text messaging, call-quality, network reliability, and support for USB phones. Please see our release notes for a complete list of enhancements.

    November 4, 2003

    The Coming Age of Personal Communcation Exchanges

    What is your strategy for Skype? Where's the news and quotes on it this week? I've blogged Skype fairly consistently since my first Skype post because disruptive innovation is where real value is created and new industries born. Because it remains an "early warning indicator" of a tech-tonic shift. Then organizationally the question is... "How do we plan?" "How do we minimize risk in this emerging environment?", What powerful challenges must we communicate down through the organization? These are strategy questions. Current answers analytically based from Gartner to who knows where say you have years. Well it is simply not true. So how will you frame your questions to make your organization think faster?

    The cost of my being right and you wrong ---- is an unbelievable destruction of bottomline wealth. If Skype reaches million and millions the loss of revenue will be in the billions. Yet Skype is not the problem it is merely the indicator that all has changed. The input you need to address the challenge is more qualitative, more focused on behavior. In a world in which the perception is the "profit" is gone... and cost cutting only (look at the centralized VoIP providers!) retains users the seeds for new value added propositions must begin now. Now these aren't just products. They may also be contracts, interconnect agreements that enable better products to be marketed. Strategies born of conditions to develop tomorrow. How well has Yahoo done with broadband?

    So I remain amazed. The number that don't get it and the emerging few that do. What is really the state of understanding this week? While we still have reporters in the WSJ thinking phones if you are operating in this market with that frame of reference you are going to be dead.

    The Register
    "In Faultline's view Lee Gomes of the WSJ fails to understand how disruptive and discontinuous innovation works. The rules that have been observed through history are that you need to offer something half as good, for a tenth of the price."

    So there is a complete disconnect. The industry has failed to identify how to get consumers beyond thinking phones. Hell in the same time period they used postage stamp before telex before fax and then e-mail. They are going to think "phones" and not about how communication is changing. Is it because we put it to our ear rather than use our eyes? Ear Phone. Web Phone? I-Phone? When you look at it VoIP is a useless label for creating consumer products. Next generation communications would at least introduce the idea of something new. Concurrently talk of convergence fails to provide the stories one can grasp. Consumers can make this shift. Just see the mental shift to Home Entertainment. Concurrently all these hardware devices are being commoditized. What we need will be very cheap in a very short time!

    It's the End of the Phone As We Know It …
    "But I don't think the traditional wire-line phone folks will feel so good. That's because when you combine Wi-Fi with cellular, you just obviated the need for any wired phones at all. "

    Yes please send out a few of those babies. It's much closer to the Pocket Personal Communication Exchange. In fact the first generation PCE's (give it a label maybe it will stick) will be desktop/laptop sized. What we are missing is the handsets to make stage one a reality. You can't wire people to PC's with headsets when they have been walking in the garden with their analog cordless phone. Compared to music we've been on LP's, there are a number of CD's around getting fairly pervasive, while ripping Mp-3's is just about to begin. Wearable communications products look like nice to have and yet nothing I've seen even begins to suggests how they will harness social networks in new ways. Similarly "marketing" opportunities abound in this new connective world. See Managing the Maze of Mulit-Sided Markets (registration required)

    Werblog "It's the difference between making a phone call over the Internet, and voice as an internetworking application. Or to put it another way, the different between the Internet as a subset of telecommunications, and telecommunications as a subset of the Internet."
    There is an assumption that perfect quality is expected. Land lines are seldom down but try and answer the phone in my house when the power is out. My mobile companion "Verizon" is frequently useless. Some will want to pay for more centralized exchange services. Others will be quite happy to manage their own personal communication exchanges. So who has the advantage? Run some scenarios on the IM world. Bet at least one turns up where the regulations are closer to the wild wild west.
    The Jeff Pulver Blog: Highway Skype Revisted "The present signs are for the coming of a true "Consumer Communications Revolution" but it will be up to the people to decide what part of the next phase of this revolution they will be a part of. And don't forgot that in the case of any revolution, you should expect to see those effected fighting back with the tools they are most effective in using - in this case it will be and is telecom regulations."

    I've also been learning about ground reakers who have been in this space before and not made it. Elise Bauer is one. See her point of view at AlwaysOn.

    The Hype of Skype :: AO

    "Will Skype fulfill its promise as an end run around the phone companies? In my opinion, ultimately no, though it may do a good job of competing with AOL, Yahoo, and Microsoft's IM clients. What would be a great product in this space is something that lets you program sophisticated phone capabilities for your phone through a simple web browser, your own soft PBX so to speak. However, I can tell you from experience that you can’t get there from a Windows IM client. (my bold)

    In a world where less than 20 people can put together Skype, don't tell me it is either too expensive, not worth some experimental dollars, or different research approaches.

    November 9, 2003

    Wallup / Huminity

    Is Wallup another mix on IM and Huminity? Huminity was a discussion item on the Well reported here back in January Maybe Wallup will solve the "revelation" hierarchy.

    Wired News: Will Microsoft Wallop Friendster?

    Wallop, however, would be open to anyone with Microsoft Instant Messenger. Cheng says building an online network starting with your buddy list makes the networking process more natural. And instead of becoming immersed in a network the size of a city, Wallop would maintain its intimacy by automatically moving friends to the forefront and background of your network based on how often you interact with them.

    November 18, 2003

    Why Skype Growth is Slowing

    What is ailing Skype growth today? The link below is hardly a statistical sample on Skype yet some numbers ring true. Read it all for more. What underlies the numbers is that Skype growth is changing. New users (like my son are online sporadically, he uses it with friends while teaming up to play games online). For the rest I hear the frequent story of I only have three or four buddies on my list.....

    So a few quick notes on:

  • Number of buddies,
  • Always-on approach,
  • connection quality,
  • Conferencing and a
  • Telephone.

    But more people need to use Skype for it to really have an impact. So far, 67 people have taken the poll, and 64 percent of them say they are put off by the service because they don't know anyone else that uses it. A further 45 percent say they would be more likely to use Skype if their friends and family signed up for it.

    Still, less than 10 weeks after launching, 52 percent of poll-takers think broadband telephony services like Skype will absolutely replace the PSTN. Roughly 47 percent believe Skype won't accomplish this alone, but that future broadband telephony services might do it see Skype Spooks Operators).

    Number of Buddies: When I've spoken to others I find many only have 3-4 buddies on their list. That tends to kill the system, particularly if they aren't live all the time. As the research notes... Skype really works for globally dispersed families. I had a wonderful chat with a friend in the UK who has family in Columbia and the US. He said "Skype changes the way our family communicates". I know it has with mine. However many of these new Skypers are not used to IM and buddy lists. There's a discomfort factor with "visibility". That's going to take more than Skype's current iteration to change. It requires "profile management" with degrees of access. Voicemail would be a big help. Voice-mail cures the interruptions and creates accessibility.

    Always-On: The slowing of those online currently 144000 vs the number of downloads means SKYPE runs the risk of being and "on" or "off" product rather than an always on or one that's always active in the sys tray. Perhaps that is the preferred behavior. However, without the voicemail encouragement that is what it will be. Skype's utility vs other IM systems decreases when treated in this fashion.

    Connection Quality: I've had some occurrences with poor connection quality. I can't figure out what the problem is, why the packets are being lost etc. For the most part the sound quality holds up to the praise Skype has received. However, a new user with poor sound will give up after the first call and will fail to understand what all the fuss is about. I know two people that Skype fails with for me each and every time. One of these guys is a telco exec and the other is a collaboration expert. They have appropriate equipment and we've trialled other VoIP apps together which work. I remain baffled by it. One is local the other is international. I know Skype isn't working for them with other callers too.

    Conferencing: Will be a killer application for Skype. Business and collaboration reasons are great, I also know it will bring many kids along too. I've been watching my son's Skype adoption. He likes the hands free (no telephone to hold) while taking on the gaming world with a buddy. While Socom and other games have enabled it online the sound quality remains poor. They also have little control over who they are playing with. Enable the "pack" and they will run rogue in these games together. Running multi-phone lines off a single PC has been done. It will take something like this for them to move their buddies from AIM to Skype.

    Telephone: I've experimented with USB phones (they only sort of work and poorly so far) and in all cases the sound deteriorates from the headset. I've not tried a bluetooth solution. Although with the right cellphone that might become interesting. Skype and programs like it still need a phone. We no longer communicate locked down to our PC's, the tethered requirement is a deadweight.

  • December 1, 2003

    Skype Doctor Calling

    Ross Mayfield blogs on Skype and Estonia. He must have saved a Windows machine in reserve! I too know the little country impact from days in NZ. Adoption is even higher when the solution is created there and the population begins to take on the world. I like his example of the doctor and wonder how many of these calls are being made straight into small offices there? I'm sure many people like bypassing the operator! We want the operator when we want a filter, however when it is our doctor we really don't want an operator at all. Similarly, putting the doctor in a call que is not an efficient use of their time. Giving friends better access to your desktop for messaging, voice, and voice mail makes a lot of sense. Let your computer play operator. The Estonians are finding out quickly how to do it. Those horrible "hello" messaging systems... and number of the extension dial in the name etc. are doomed!

    Before long there may be a market for Learning Journeys to Estonia! Skype now claims 3.3 million downloads.

    You may know that Skype, the P2P telephony platform that is all the rage in early adopter circles, is being developed in Estonia. You may also know that the little country that could is dear to my heart. But you might not know that in Estonia, Skype adoption has already crossed the chasm.

    When something big happens in a little country, word gets around fast. Even my father-in-law is using Skype to call us (instead of our Vonage line). Family doctors are using it to set appointments and communicate with patients. I don't have any country-by-country statistics (do you?), just personal anecdotes that regular people are using Skype in droves instead of calls. People are using it for more than saving money with call quality above standard (better than mobile) -- but because the mode of use differs it is gaining a different culture of use.

    [Ross Mayfield's Weblog]

    December 17, 2003

    Novel Uses - Camera Phone

    This is a great link to exploring camera phones and the ways they are being used. Textually provides a wonderful summary:

    For Textually 2003 - The Year in Review, here is a round up of the novel ways camera phones have been used this year by individuals and businesses. And as these phones, widely popular, go mainstream, with image quality and picture snapping features improving with the launch of each new model, it is clear we have yet to scratch the surface on how private individuals and businesses will find ways to use them.

    Picturephoning 2003 - The Year in Review

    December 19, 2003

    Finding the eBay of Social Capital

    The blogosphere seems intent on finishing the year on a social note. I'm seeing plenty of posts on LinkedIn, ZeroDegrees, Spoke and continued tirades over what Ryze, Tribe and Friendster provide or don't. Yes it's an area I've read about and have followed closely all year. So in the closing moments I'll say I don't think any of these are real businesses. None of these are the eBbay of social capital. Some may have important functionalities that may add up to a business sometime in the future. However those that use $10 subscription rates for current functionality levels can forget it. They are all too expensive. It's cheaper to get in the Yellow Pages.

    Early in the year I found myself writing about identity and sharing human profiles to thinking through circles of friends and the impact of actions on branding and behavior. I've explored almost every one of these software applications as they have come along. There is not yet one pieces of software from this genre that I get real enjoyment from. Each one I can learn the system and get it to do a small number of things. I can get new introductions, however the people that really count and my long time referees aren't on the system and I've given up trying to get them there. In the end my blog and strategies that I execute around it are a better time investment for networking to new connections.

    Many of the social networking services provide useful functionalities (dating - matching is really separate to my comments here) however none of them provide the type of product / service that is going to be a big time winner. They are high maintenance for the most part and fail to integrate well into the day to day work that we do. Then there is trust too. Upload your outlook address book etc... They are all useful experiments and many of their features will be built into corporate systems. Yet, I believe the majority are barking up the wrong tree.

    Here's some top of mind reasons why.

  • Mobility: These systems are static, don't integrate well with our cellphones and our SMS or what is to come in this arena. PDA's with Pocket Presence etc.
  • Presence: A few like Tribe provide some indication of presence. However have you ever been there where there are more than one or two people that you know online at the same time? Ecademy provides another method. None of these enable quick voice brokering. Although there is an Ecademy group that has experimented with that. IM already does this.
  • Voice: More than half of all knowledge is communicated verbally. These systems aren't adding in the additional cues. (If you want to see a great piece on this read Tom Coates). Skype uses both presence and Voice Quality to really change the game and the location --- integrated with the PC.
  • Conferencing Calling: 2004 will see the introduction of effective VoIP voice conferencing at effectively zero cost. This will have significant impact on knowledge sharing, networking. and getting to the right questions quickly.
  • Buddy Lists: IM is accelerating. IM is displacing e-mail. IM redefines addresses, personas, and access. Expect to see some RSS in with IM. Buddies want to sell a car... just blog it. All your buddies see it. Buddy broadcast. It's already done with SMS messaging.
  • Blogs: Is TypePad not in the Ryze social networking business? From what I've seen everyone there can have a profile / about me section in minutes. Feedster provides another example of networking around content. Just search the blogs for "social software".
  • Search: I think we are going to want to capture the searches that personally network us with people we want to connect with or who are also investigating an area. I'm also surprised that Google doesn't make it easy to link a search that returns a link to a blog to an IM opportunity. Makes even more sense in large corporate databases. Would that make it a decentralized Ask Jeeves?

    So where does that lead? Right bang on the doorstep of the phone system. It's where all the money is, and where the above is likely to be most disruptive. Vonage's new softphone like Skype is just another indicator.

  • January 16, 2004

    Roomba Robot

    I have a confession to make. I bought my wife a robot for Christmas and it has changed our life. This is the typical story about early adoption, why one does it and the insights it brings. This is a post on ROOMBA, a vacuum that emerged as a venture out of MIT Artificial Intelligence Labs. The company is iRobot.

    Why you should pay attention Roomba. More to the point you should just buy one! (If you have hardwood floors, no tassels on rugs and no thick carpets)

  • Roomba Love
  • Disruptive engineering - Innovators dilemma
  • Design tradeoffs and likely future direction
  • Robotics in general
  • Cleaning Robots for the home
  • Buying behavior and channel implications

    I tracked robots and like many have seen Aibo Sony's robot. See this ZDnet articleon why they are nearly here. I'd never seen a Roomba until I went to purchase one. I'm not sure where I really got the idea. It was only afterwards that I learned from the Roomba site that a "permission slip" was available. My wife has an interest in cleaning that is more work related than elbow grease. Roomba at around $250 for the Elite version was something I just thought we had to experiment with. So far I might add I'm the one who has done most of the learning and the home is cleaner than it has ever been.

    Roomba Love
    Is the appreciation for a very fine cleaning pet. Roomba (many have named them see these links) requires juice daily and then feeds on all the dust and dog hair. It loves hardwood floors which are the majority in our house. It daily runs it little heart out usually while we are out and then we come home to find it with a very full belly. It cleans about half of the house daily, we just let it go until it runs out of juice. Check out the reviews on Amazon. I'm in the 4+ star camp. Checking for earlier models it clearly it doesn't work for everyone. Use your judgement.

    Disruptive Engineering:
    The smart vacuum like the intelligent lawnmower (see robomower) has been round for some time as an idea and working prototypes. Most of the major manufacturers have one in production or at the prototype stage. The prices I've seen for them range from $1500 to $6000. See Electrolux Tribolite. This report from the Tapei Times who asks whether Taiwan can make Robo-Maids. Want to design your own? Look to Wany Robotics. Closer to home research continues at SRI on the Centibots project. More cleaning bots. And one from Karcher too. and then check out the price… and Hitachi and Samsung.

    Although most of these are not yet commercial products, their number alone certainly reflects the expectations regarding the economic value associated with the automation of cleaning tasks.

    So how does Roomba manage to get it to market for around $200? What are some of the tradeoff they may have made. Looking at some of the prototypes suggests some of the "industry" prevailing wisdom. It must have a high suction capability (probably work on thick carpets too), it must use sonar or some intelligent system to navigate it's way around furniture. To be automated it must be able to return to base and recharge --- for they can't figure out how to keep it going long enough with current battery technology.

    Roomba by comparison appears to "bristle" with innovation using its brushes to sweep up most dirt and a very low power vacuum to get the fine dust and additional hairs. Consequently it runs for 1.5 to 1.75 hours on a charge. All the above appear to run flat after about 40-50 minutes. Roomba's charge is enough to clean 1000+ square feet of hardwood on a charge. Roomba didn't design in a return to base function. Then Roomba is also smaller, and all use light weight strong plastics throughout. It's dumb by comparison to the smart vacuum bots. However the algorithm it uses to clean the floors is very effective, and you begin to believe it may be intelligent. It still has a couple of sensors on board. It's small height means it cleans where you often don't. So they downsized, used real low power electrics and shoved the biggest battery they could in it and went to China to have it made.

    Design Tradeoffs?
    They also made some design tradeoff that a good vacuum manufacturer would not make. For example there are three dirt collection containment areas. That makes the daily dump a little less attractive. There is no Dyson press 'n dump.
    The solution with the brushes is not perfect. Long dog hair really adds to the cleaning burden. Thankfully ours is a short hair lab, but our guest golden retriever over the holidays.... made almost daily cleaning of the brushes mandatory. These cleaning niggles have created a product of their own. The Roomba Personal Care Kit. The screwdriver is mandatory. That it is not kept on Roomba and required for frequent maintenance is nuts.

    Future Direction.
    The obvious desires are all there. Give me automatic dumping and cleaning, add auto recharging, then add a mopping buddy. Perhaps add a fuel cell so Roomba works even harder and longer for me. There are examples already out there with security features built in (see links above). It could be made quieter too.

    In one article I saw 200,000+ Roombas had been sold through last October. Another line focused on Roomba already being the most popular robot ever made. Inherently we know that robotics will come into the home. In fact even Lego provides a "robotics" product. So it is only a question of when and where. The technology is here and the price point is the same as a new better vacuum cleaner.

    There is some satisfaction in having a little bot working for you. Actually toiling while you are away. I'm satisfied that we may now spend five minutes a day nurturing it and a couple more moving some furniture or a room site check while it cleans 10 hours a week for me. In our household the vacuum before came out at most twice a week. Obviously we never did 10 hours of vacuuming. So while we can get round faster than the Roomba, we're no more through. In the end five minutes a day and for the most part vacuuming has gone away. We haven't used the vacuum in the main living areas since Christmas. On a day to day basis the house is cleaner. Plus I have the daily empty process to prove it.

    Impact on the Home:
    Forever thinking about the future, and slaving away today I believe Roomba will generate new perspective for home living and cleaning. We've seen the advances in home entertainment, and early smart kitchen results. So far they haven't all come together. This little robot may just change all that. I can now see a day where I never have to clean another floor, sweep another driveway or cut another lawn. That would suit me. It also means that Roomba purchases may just compete with high demand electronics products. What do you want? A maid you can name or a Plasma TV? I'll take the maid thank you!

  • January 19, 2004

    Innovative iTunes

    Are you using iTunes yet? I've resisted buying an MP-3 player so far for myself. That resistance may be crumbling. I think iTunes like Skype and Roomba are very disruptive innovations. All of these provide simple interfaces, are easy to use and change personal perspective.

    This post is about iTunes and my observations including:

  • Digitizing my music collection
  • The demise of the CD
  • The download price
  • What I would pay for music
  • Insuring your digital music collection
  • Music and the phone
  • A summer teenage job opportunity?

    One fun reason I've been missing over the recent holiday break is traceable to my new iTunes habit. iTunes is Apple's solution for selling music online. So why the fuss?

    PC media players have had a juke box function for sometime. Probably like many I had an assortment of music on my laptop and home PC, however I could never claim to have a digital collection or a home music server. Now I do. The combination of a recent laptop upgrade and a desire to move music to more places in the house led me to digitize my whole CD collection over Christmas. I'm still working on the old LP's. It wasn't a big collection, some 12GB so far in the new format.

    However the benefits are immediately apparent. iTunes can sort by artist, album, genre, year etc. I can shuffle play R&B and Jazz together. All this is not new, it is just that iTunes makes it elegantly simple, including burning CD's from the results. As a consequence one old laptop with WiFi is networked to the home server and acting as the stereo interface in our family room. It takes up less space and with a new set of speakers provides great sound. In the living room I can run the laptop or the home PC straight into the home entertainment system.

    So more music at our fingertips, easier selection, and better listening at almost no cost.

    Some observations?
    I'm currently making a tradeoff between adding a Creative Wireless Music Server Remote and an iPod with at least 20gb. I think the iPod will win, I need a backup for my music. As there are no insurance policies for hard-drives that die.

    I'm seriously considering trading all my current CD's for other used ones until I have nothing left to trade. I see no point in having CD's in my house anymore. Soon I'm sure I'll feel the same about DVD's. I'm considering the best way to get all this music into my car. an iPod with voice recognition would be great. Then I could just iPod to current stereo.

    The download price for iTunes $0.99 per song is just too much. I'm not prepared to pay that for a track. I've already got more than I can listen to. However, iTunes has just launched an "allowance" product. So I could give my kids $x per week. I'd note that my daughter used a file sharing program recently to download a new album. She used iTunes to identify the songs. I think she secured the full album. (While not approving the approach the real issue it the gap between $99cents / Album $10 and free) My own experience of loading in my legitimately owned albums into iTunes was the additional utility I get from having accurate Gracenote records, the enhanced searching and the knowledge that my database (increasingly valuable) is not being infected by inferior quality. Paying a reasonable sum for additions makes sense to me.

    At $0.10 that is 10 cents per song the cost would be reasonable. In fact I'd commit my family to $5.00 per week immediately. (That is I think $230 more than we spent last year). At that rate we'd download some 2500 songs in a year. That is a more than you can eat strategy. Our interest in new music and artists would dramatically increase over time. The impact of this strategy would be strongly felt by music radio stations. What's the biggest initial barrier to lower song costs? First is greedy banks. I believe they are taking approximately $.25 on a $.99 track purchase.

    I'm surprised there isn't an insurance policy on my collection. Insurance provides the recording industry with two things they don't have now. First they get to keep changing a few cents as long as you have the music. In conjunction with providing "database protection" which may well be worth more than a few cents a year with special charges for re-loading new registered to owner machines etc, they would get my full music profile. Recommendations etc. would then follow. A twist on the insurance policy would enable a micro payment for each time a song is played, so frequent and favorite tracks are never lost while the balance of the collection may have a hefty deductable.

    Lastly, iTunes suffers from not having "profiles" built in. Yes we can build Stuart's music, etc. However, while holding it on the home server, it would be useful to know if that is son's. daughter's, etc downloads. Having them together helps, similarly being able to separate them may help your next dinner party. I'm also not sure what happens when my son leaves for college and take the full collection with him. What is the RIAA policy? By then he has been collecting and playing for years... however now his collection might be merged with other friends. Looks to me like Darknets are inevitable.

    I'd also like iTunes to connect with Skype, so I can share / pipe / run background music during a conversation. I think Gracenote is already busy with this.

    "When a music fan hears a song they'd like more information about, they simply dial a short code provided by the carrier or portal and point their mobile phone towards the music source for 5-10 seconds. Depending on their phone, the user will receive a message with related data, such as the album cover, artist and song name and links to purchase the download or ringtone. Older phones will receive a text message with the relevant data and instructions for purchasing ringtones and other content."

    Lastly it dawned on me that entrepreneurial kids could just make a job of this over the summer. Transferring CD's to the home server, setting up iPods etc. I may just encourage my son to try it. He could easily offer an additional "music hard drive etc. Not only would he get green stuff he would also enhance his appreciation for music. In a few years the same opportunity won't even be available. Concurrently I think he would end up with an enormous collection. He could even offer a back-up service for key clients if he became really involved.

  • January 26, 2004

    Roomba Reflections.

    A trackback on Roomba from Mike Whybark hit my blog today. I found the additional Roomba links great fun. From hacks to poetry. If you are into Roomba you will enjoy these links. If you are iRobot then start considering blogs and blogging. When I blogged Roomba I was hoping to learn a little more. This post is a linking gem!

    OK/Cancel: I, Robot, You Jane, via Blackbelt Jones. Roomba Review, community site for Roomba. Looks just launched. Astroturf? Those are some good prices. Genius art-guy Gary Panter on Roomba. A bar. Takeapart walkthrough at Jake's World (which has some other cool stuff, looks like). Macly! Roomba Community: Zoomba. Hacks. Uh-oh. Yeah, this looks like the place. Roomba Diagnostic Mode. Has... []

    February 24, 2004

    Supersonic Skype

    I've taken some flak recently for my "SkypeMe" middle name. Similarly I've had a few comment from different quarters that Skype will never be a real telephone company. With that comment I probably agree. My point is that Skype is leading us somewhere new.

    From time to time my work involves me in scenarios and strategy. I tend to press the boundaries of the possible. By now if you are reading this blog you will know I also like the devils advocate and contrarian roles when appropriate. For that divergent thinking is part of the real role of scenarios for minimizing risk and maximizing learning. Through that lens Skype remains an early indicator. Like Napster and Kazaa (for that matter) it is a radical change in the way things operate.

    Much of the debate around Skype focuses on the telephone industry rather than seeing something new. Skype may be the airlines and aircraft while POTS remains the train tracks and trains.

    I also believe there are a number of lessons from presence to mobility that "old style" telecom providers fail to understand or aren't actively pursuing. Most of the marketing I see remains phone centric rather than about communications. The type of new and emerging functionality that people includes things like can I handle my voice mail while on a plane? Of course you can, just most people have yet to experience it. Similarly in a car. Concurrently I've been more interested in the opportunity for new information markets around Skype type functionality. The future of call waiting, caller id etc. Even 0900 style numbers provide opportunities. No much is new here. Just the opportunity to tie it into computing applications and the big screen. Skype's biggest risk and challenge may just be the exchange on the desktop that just accesses the lowest cost solution whereever I am using the highest quality sound.

    Similarly I still get comments re MSN and Yahoo. What out Skype they are coming. From what I can see MSN has had more than six month to launch a voice centric version of their IM product, Yahoo the same. Both however have significant issues with increasing "voice" which I'd guess is much more expensive than brokering test messaging. Thus theyy have two problems. To compete with Skype for consumers and SMHO they must adopt a P2P approach and they must adopt a sound codec that is better than the one they currently use which is I think SIP compatible. Similarly they have to solve their NAT problems. MSN and Yahoo don't deliver on voice. Yahoo can deliver a fairly good but sometimes delayed webcam in conjunction with a clear Skype call even at full screen size.

    This is perhaps not the ultimate in communication. It's also not a full telephone system. However Skype has started a battle that the telecom giants are not well equiped to handle. That battle is around sound quality. It's also a challenge for mobile providers. I know there are also other technologies out their that are better than Skype. I expect they will continue to improve. I also see headset operators whether Nokia or Motorola or HP adding WiFi and bluetooth capabiliies everywhere. Then we will see which "quality" level is preferred.

    So.... Will Skype fly fast enough and high enough to break more than just the sound barrier?

    March 13, 2004

    Working Out Stuff

    Thanks Jerry! Was a great afternoon!

    Image(64).jpg Image(67).jpg Image(66).jpg Image(68).jpg Image(69).jpg Image(70).jpg Image(73).jpg Image(72).jpg Image(75).jpg Image(61).jpg judith.jpg Image(71).jpg

    March 17, 2004

    iTALK2U - Skype Clone?

    Is the P2P telephony space too crowded? Here's a potential Skype twin that may just emerge. Litfiber has announced iTalk2u --- although no "beta" can actually be downloaded. Beta supposed to be released in May.


  • Litfiber recently went public,
  • All Litfibers announcements have a strong "Homeland Security" emphasis. This may be politics. It may also suggest a new political play in the VoIP arena. (What do others know?). Now what sort of Spyware are we talking about? What's this mean for iTalk2u?
  • If Litfibers strategy is to own the towers (their site says 200 but from a source I heard they control 2000? of 2600 nationally??? a key footprint) then this is not just a Skype play but a WAN development to really fill their 770 strand highly underutilized pipes.

    From their site.

    Litfiber is proud to announce that it will be releasing its BETA of its new VOIP product iTALK2U in May 2004. The product will be based on two initiatives while focusing on its users needs:

    (1) Homeland Security: The number one concern associated with any large organization is communication, also the need for security, speed, quality, hardware cost and bandwidth cost to name a few.

    If that’s not enough, What communication suite can offer features that include all that a major Telco would offer? Includes all of the security features that a government institution would require and provide a solution to have low maintenance, bandwidth and hardware cost?

    (2) General Public Use : The number one concern to a public user is "ease of use", with the introduction of ICQ, AIM, Kazaa, Skype, MSN messenger, Yahoo and "Multi IM's such as GAIM and Trillian to name a few, multi user communication seems to be a very important issue with the internet user.

    Among other growing concerns is privacy: NO "Spyware" or "ADWare" or ect...ect...

    I think the question to ask is why so many products? Is it that no one has built a product that services all the needs of a internet user? Is it that cost is prohibitive to a end user or a service provider to implement?

    In steps “iTALK2U”! a new revelation in P2P communication to serve the Security industry as well as the common internet user.

    Here is a short list of some of the features:

    - Global users directory
    - P2P Platform
    - IM
    - VOIP Calling (PC to PC, PC to POTS, PC to Mobile Device)or any combination.
    - SMS
    - File Transfer
    - NSA1 encryption
    - E-Mail to Mobile Device
    - Customizable skins
    - Automatic program updates
    - Community input and more!

    See also the Yahoo Newsrelease, Additional Information

  • Continue reading "iTALK2U - Skype Clone?" »

    March 23, 2004

    Skype Business Plans Revealed

    Estonia March 23, 2004* WTF Spoof Newswire

    Skype Business Plan details released today outline large scale enterprise ambitions. Throwing caution to the wind and responding to recent enquires from international press sources Skype founder Niklas Zennstrom released new products and service details in a closed session post CeBit conference for the Enterprise market. Earlier Skype announced partnerships with Plantronics and Siemans Mobile. The most important announcements disclosed details of the Skype "Supernode" Corporate Server, the Skype "Presence Manager and Skype for PDA's and Symbian Skype Messenger.

    Skype testing began with a free to consumer "telephony" application released in August 2003. With over six months in testing billions in connected calls, and online callers exceeding 300000 concurrently Skype announced that HP would begin an immediate world wide corporate implementation. An unnamed HP spokes person said it was their "Windows" opportunity. It will be deployed in consulting services over the next three weeks. Concurrently HP will release new look PDA's and bluetooth headsets. Skype recently received $18 million in funding from Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Index Ventures who said""The Skype team boasts some of the world's great corporate innovators, and is the hottest viral marketing phenomenon since Hotmail"

    Speculation of Skype next moves was enhanced when their early PDA alpha was demonstrated. While details have been known for some weeks it wasn't until the CeBIT presentation that the loosely joined piece came together. As you will see Skype's combination of emerging products provide the enterprise with the lowest cost VoIP service and the highest "presence" management functionality available. Complete with a secure solution to enable enterprise mobility while enabling the rapid convergence of texting, calendars and e-mail in simple handheld devices Skype looks confident and scaleable.

    Skype "Supernode" Corporate Server:
    Skype's new server platform tested with a worldwide user base continues to get glowing press reports. For more details on Supernodes and how they work see Page 29 + of this write-up. Skypannouncede focus on the corporate enterprise market displays real savvy and the depth of thinking that has gone into this emerging platform. As Skype's CTO explained. Security, presence management and service are the key deliverables. Skype solution is as simple as the user interface. When Skype first launched their free public service we retained and held back the use of certain key characters. Most notable the @. This simple variable is the "connectivity" solution.

    Skype Supernodes Server logs the company rather than the individuals into the cloud, thus managing the identity and pass codes for its employees. (This also disperses the security risk inherent in the initial log-in cloud structure) Corporate accounts will have unique sign-on addresses eg By adopting e-mail addresses Skype makes it easy to authenticate that the caller is indeed from Company X. This is the simplest form of reputation that a corporate can apply. So if you are Skyping with a company e-mail name then you can be pretty sure that they are official and still employed there. Skype will hold a central list of all companies and will maintain an independent complaints registry.

    The Supernode system provides further additional functionality. For example. If the Supernode fails to detect an active PDA or Computer as being online it simply activates voice-mail and e-mails the message or text to the individual. Thus corporate Supernodes maintain an always on aspect. Vacation Away message can be logged on the corporate Supernode just like todays email solutions. The Supernode also provides secure encrypted connectivity and systems oversight. By being the active component in the corporate system it also manages all the encryption keys, thus providing the potential for record keeping, monitoring and recording of sent files etc. Future functionality will enable the auto blogging of this content as calls are automatically categorized. This is important for legal reason and for training in corporate call centers.

    Corporate Supernodes will provide additional capacity for the growth of the global system. They will also enable "corporate virtual rooms" and conference calls with up to 50 participants in a structured sound environment. Enterprises may also choose to refuse to accept Skype calls that are not 1)already on a buddy list, and 2)not approved or authenticated in some way. These actions are designed to create additional legitimacy for the system. This transparency is expected to enhance business relationships.

    Skype Presence Management:
    SPM sits on top of Skype Supernodes server system. By managing the collective buddy system the corporate system recognizes that most communication withing groups is within the group walls. Only a few need to go outside or frequently accept new incoming unknown callers. Thus all important suppliers and customers are integrated into the company network. Network analysis will further help enhance relationship management. This reduces the number of traditional inbound lines required while enhancing connectivity within the value creation network.

    Skype's initial release will add employees pictures further enabling identification and personalizing connections. Andreas Sjolund Project Manager at Skype expects to provide all the functionality that Spoke or Linkedin has been chasing with the voice link. SPM enable buddy link management to provide the opportunity for other incoming Skype calls to be diverted when someone is not available depending on category. The option to apply social network learnings are apparent in initial screens as all employees have access and can search the whole database at the same time. Individual "private" connections will be known to the system and are handled similarly to private appointments in Outlook. The capabilities do not stop there. Should someone leave the firm --- the firm retains their contacts and the "association" memory even if someone new now takes the auto directed inbound call. Skype plans also include new buddy categories including "commercial" eg for your personal shopper who may only have limited or periodic access. Similarly eBay resellers are looking at this as a new method to notify on auctions and build more lasting relationships. Corporate Skype buddies appear in the corporate font and color.

    Mobility and Symbian Skype Messenger
    Niklas: Our PDA' solution provides a mobility solution that until now could only be achieved using the most sophisticated cellphones. Cellphones are expensive to run relative to a WLAN voice connected network and few cellphones really integrate PDA functions at at a reasonable price point. Concurrent with this are demands for organizations to upgrade and introduce new VoIP phone hardware. With software centric solutions like Skype proliferating investing in "phone specific" hardware no longer makes sense. By contrast adding new software capabilities to PDA's and phones transforms their capabilities. With a corporate Supernode incoming calls from non-Skype enabled accounts can be simply routed at no additional cost to anywhere in the world. Concurrently, a Skype install may reduce the number of incoming or outgoing lines required. Corporates adopting Skype also provide a significant incentive for suppliers to do the same. The benefit for both parties is control of "presence" and speeding up "real-time" communications. PDA's combined with bluetooth headsets further enhances the utility of the devices and makes them on campus more useful than the majority of cellphones. Examples also include hospitals where the majority of the personnel are mobile and an increasing number of smart programs on PDA's being tied into patient care. Having 'presence" may save lives during the crucial critical care moments.

    Note that Corporate PDA users that use their Corporate Laptop in WiFi enables homes remain connected to the secure Skype Corporate Communication system. Thus the corporate line may go home and it also rings at home.

    Our other initiative involves integrating Skype with GPRS options using Symbian enabled cellphones. By offering at text only on Symbian cellphones we can retain presence indicators and can connect quickly via text or voice regardless of whether someone is Skype to Skype, Skype to Cell or PSTN, or PSTN or Cell to Skype. As Corporate Supernode Servers can all bridge this link this connectivity comes at no extra cost. Further announcements in this area will be released in the coming months. Concurrently we are looking for OSX and developers to enable Skype on the Mac platform. Combined with emerging Linux solutions we believe we are on the verge of a universal communications system that will integrate and flow with next generation networked work methods.

    There are too many variable to lay out a quick cost-benefit analysis here. There is also more than one product in the above. The Skype Supernode, Skype for Enterprise PC's, Skype for PDA's etc. Add to this A text based Skype for Corporate Mobile phones or "Data" accounts like used with a Motorola Sidekick and a methodology for managing corporate communications. What we know is we are at the tipping point where this type of VoIP install is much cheaper than a Cisco or similar solution with many times the functionality. Additional value for information sharing can be created. Over time significant enhancements for managing presence will emerge. Concurrently your costs for conference calling facilities go to zero resulting in immediate savings in both cost and in time scheduling. We expect to partner with some additional desktop sharing applications in coming months. As to pricing our solution is simple. Apply the corporate Windows pricing model. First year licenses will be available and granted free to the first 10 million corporate users. You will see that ongoing fees are less than the cost of a current extension. Call costs as always on the Skype network remain free.

    To summarize. I expect we will begin shipping the Skype server and individual application products in early September 2004. Welcome to the new world of Global telephoney... no scratch that global communications.



    * This is a spoof. The author has never seen a Skype business plan or any statement other than publicly announced or revealed details. None of this information or speculation came from Skype so your interpretation and judgement should apply. I have been following Skype since it launched. If you have gotten this far it must have either been compelling or intriguing. If you repost any of it you may want to insure that you note this was a spoof.

    I posted these thoughts in this format for sometimes the most compelling way to make managers stuck in a paradigm see what is coming is simply to tell them a story. When one uses Scenarios is it less important to get it precisely right. It's unlikely that every element in the above is true or a certainty. It could be completely wrong. The point is to ask yourself. What could we do? What should we do right now if Skype emerges with all the above capabilities by September 2004? That is where strategy comes in. If you are HP or IBM the context is completly different to WebEx or Vonage. If you are SBC you better have answers. They are different in each case. The purpose of this type of exercise is to enable an interest in gaining strategic foresight. Companies that are open to exploring strategy outside their comfort zone are more likely to succeed in the long run. Concurrently two other things happen. First embracing change becomes easier for the recognition emerges that it is already here. Second making things happen are now in an accelerated context.

    I don't get to go to David Isenberg's WTF I'm on vacation at the time. Still this might be a fun way to think about it.

    And that sums up this post. WTF --- nothing to lose.

    April 5, 2004


    After a vacation the newsreader is full of posts. I missed out on VON and WTF last week so along with the normal Skype review I keyed in a few Feedster searches. The fragments below reflect some I noted and my method for getting back to blogging quickly this time. They relate to Skype, IM, mobility, presence and change

    Om Malik on VoIP: Why Skype is No Different Then see the chaning codec Skype is using and follow these links from the Skype Forum. They will lead you to Global IP sound whose news releases arrive a few days before Skype updates. Pretty easy to read between the lines re OSX, Linux etc. Global IP Sound - Newsroom - Releases

    Some useful reinforcement from Om Malik on : The Incredible importance of Instant Message clients His links identify MSN IM as the stealth softphone client. While he says: The greatest advantage of these IM clients is that they are already sitting on our desktops, have been built for an IP-everywhere world, and are one upgrade away from becoming phones(my bold). (The real magic needs to happen at the back end!) We should start the clock ticking on Skype! Add Mobile Pipeline | Data & Voice | Microsoft Scores in VoIP Arena. See also Smartphone thoughts

    Fastchat again demonstrates the rapidly accelerating convergence of IM and Mobile phones. The barrier to trial is simply more cost. $30/year and 2 cents per outgoing message. More features than Buzz2Talk , while Aglie Messenger provides the presence and IM integration without the push to talk functionality. See also fastmobile Andy writes it up hereVoIP Watch: Move Over SKYPE here's FASTMOBILE, however these are not the same thing. It will be worth looking into push to talk behaviors vs texting behavior in more detail. "With a FastChat enabled device anyone using FastChat can pretty much Push To Talk to anyone on the Internet. Now that's delivering voice communications ubiquity TODAY".. So if Liz Lawley will pardon my interruption I can only image how frightening this dimension might be to her. I'd also like to come back to interruptions and Dave Pollard's posts separately. If anyone has the appropriate equipment and wants to experiment with me on Buzz2Talk, or FastChat let me know. Push to talk has some specific benefits, as does always on and for some always off.

    Heath Row also made great WTF notes that included TV on cellphones in Korea. See George Gilder's comments

    Korea has 40 times the amount of bandwidth that we do. And they accomplished that in three years. When you have 40 times the amount of bandwidth, that's 75% penetration.
    When you have a true deployment of broadband in a country, including wireless broadband, the whole economy changes. In 2003, there was around $450 billion a year of commercial transactions on the Internet in Korea. A third of their economy was transacted on the Internet. If we had a third of our economy transacted on the Internet, versus our 2%, the business models that were deemed Quixotic and absurd because of the bubble would have succeeded. Grocery transactions are done on the Web all over Korea. Webvan and those other dotcoms would have prevailed there. Fast Company Korea
    There is additional data there about TV on your smart phone. Anyone remember a few years ago the Canadian startup that began rebroadcasting American TV. They were closed down by lawsuits. I tried to watch a TV broadcast today. it's still to slow. There is a real need for sites offering these services to provide a text messaging solution. I'd pay the 2cents or 5 cents just to get the setting in the phone in one click. See:
    The new service of Telefónica Móvil -- live TV on your cell phone -- was introduced in Chile with full print ad pages in major Chilean newspapers. Smart Mobs: Live TV on Your Cell Phone

    I also saw lots of links to Clay Shirky's latest post "Situated Software" a wonderful illustration of how student assignments create real value and insight. The thought seems completely consistent with Nicholass Carr who asked in HBR not so long ago ... "Does IT matter?" The basic systems approaches that Clay outlines and the open non-proprietary methods used to achieve them by the students are the zero-based budget techniques for tomorrow. Lee Bryant also argued this well in Smarter Simpler Social over a year ago.

    April 21, 2004

    The Online Presence Spiral

    - The Online Presence Spiral - an interactive experience that is engaging, accessible, immersive - not just IM indicators but sound quality - active cams, mobility etc. Emergent thoughts that we need a new "Presence Formula".

    This post represents rough notes on how online presence is being redefined by new audio solutions. These are creating a sound spiral and an unexpected tipping point for tel co's and cellular phone providers while redefining consumer / user audio expectations.

    Driven by IM systems we are becoming increasingly accustomed to knowing; available, away, do not disturb, not available, invisible and custom forms thereof. In parallel there has been a growing interest in the social networking sites like Ryze, Linkedin, Orkut, Tribe etc. Most of these haven't had the critical online mass to activate an effective 'presence" indicator yet. They also fail to have the immediacy of an IM buddy list. Learning gained in social networking software will be applied to IM systems in the next generation. In fact ICQ has recently been releasing upgrades. As will more complex access profiles which further refine definitions of availability, access, privacy, security etc. However this focus on presence and "presence management" is limited an IM style focus on smiley faces and social networking that may limit developments. As VoIP and IM systems integrate interaction designers should take a broader view of presence.

    Let's just step back for a second and consider real life examples…. Eg "you felt his/her presence when they entered the room. Or the speaker carried real presence. Take it further and over the years there have been interests in telepresence from science fiction books to research studies. This objective that i found quickly appealed to me. "To design forms of interactive experience that are engaging, accessible, and immersive". I'd like to think about this as presence cubed.

    The IM style is helping with accessible, however the other aspects engaging and immersive still have a way to go. The point is recent posts on "Presence Management" are really missing the broader picture. The post I've seen from Dina, and Dave I think support my point of view. They are looking for a much broader integration of presence. In fact presence management is an oxymoron just like Knowledge Management. Similarly telecoms and VoIP providers that simply believe they can step up with a VoIP IM solution are going to find they are continuing to chase the curve. Using Skype as an illustration, it masters the current state of consumer presence pretty adequately. It also redefines voice presence. Our ears are extremely sensitive to vocal cues. And yet we are accepting. We accept or are forced into landline and cellular systems that clip our voices, reduces our gravitas and thus reduce vocal presence effectiveness. The narrow band spectrums simply doesn't compare favorably with a well connected wide band Skype type call. In fact I was told the other day how different I sounded on Skype. Apparently, I had more presence!

    Now imagine you were part of a larger conference call negotiation. You could hear the other party with brilliant clarity. They were restricted to a mediocre cellphone standard. You could easily position each of the individuals and easily decipher the stress or excitement in their voices. Now which negotiation team has the upper hand? If you are looking at new solutions then thinking about presence in terms of availablity indicators and not audio quality will only will only result in an early replacement as higher quality more efficient sound solutions become available. For conference calls you have to have an audio connection that is equal or better than those your are connected to. For the most part the highest sound quality will result in better conversations. It's pretty self-evident. Just like the e-mail that can be misinterpreted. The brain fills in the blanks in poor quality sound.

    Now I would like to know if any commercial or consumer SIP applications so far have been initiated with a codec comparible to Skype. For it is not SIP that is restraining the voice quality it is the VoIP telecom providers that seem to think current sound codecs are good enough. I have a Vonage line. At no time does it compare to Skype quality. It's better than my cellphone at home, and often doesn't match my landline for quality. Via the Register today, Morpheus launched a VoIP solution. They are in fact just playing off their P2P name and number of users. As far as I can tell it is a standard VoIP solution a little cheaper than Vonage. Other than trying to leverage the Morpheus userbase I'm not sure that there is a P2P relationship in this system although they are claiming that with VoiceBox to VoiceBox you get higher quality.

    With Skype we are only just getting a taste of what's to come. As our understanding of "presence" is broadened by better audio experiences the industry will compete and collaborate to bring even more interesting "presence" experiences. Then the solutions won't stop with sound. There will be a huge awakening in equipment solutions too. Just think what happened when we when from mono to stereo, and then how quickly so many have gone to home theaters. The consumer knows Dolby and 3-D sound. While we may not want a total immersion experience for all calls (you may want to listen in on another simultaneously) we will want the ultimate immersion for some calls. The movie industry has already demonstrated what is possible.

    Skype also shows what happens when increased audio presence is combined with appropriate visual cues. Those black heads don't look very friendly now, still when they become real faces and an inbound call is generated then our connection to the caller will be further enhanced. Photo's are a first step that will aid adoption adoption of real-time web cams.

    Consequently I periodically find myself running updated experiments on the latest online video solutions. It is almost a couple of weeks ago since I tried out various alternative with Dave Pollard. I'd read Dave's post and he was willing to try out his new webcam. We started with Yahoo cam and voice. The voice connection was crap and so we soon closed voice and opened a Skype connection why retaining the Yahoo cam. In this instance there wasn't much of a delay on the cam although 2-3 seconds is not uncommon. Still as a free solution I've personally found little to beat it.

    Next we tried out Sightspeed, The cam was much faster, however the voice connection was not up to Skype quality. We retained it for a period. However by that time we were doing what I think we should be doing. We were sharing http links, and looking at other alternatives. The cam had simply disappeared into the background replaces by texting and browser links. From my perspective this is not unusual.

    Durning this week I also tried out CamFrog. While I didn't try the premium edition the basic one didn't provide me with confidence. While these observations and ongoing trials are fun from time to time I'm yet to find a wow solution. Robin Good in particular has shared some great conferencing solutions with me. They do require some customizing to context. It also takes time to master these tools. So ultimately there won't be hundreds of winners.

    What I've found is I'm not prepared in any of these online sessions to put up with poor voice quality. That simply is a killer.

    Second I dislike screen delays. The update has to be quick. Screen synch between individuals fast. Last year I'd experimented with Glance a product that shares your desktop. More recently Bill Campbell generously got me set up on tightVNC. Many use it for remote access to their computer. It's also perfect for sharing your desktop with multiple users. WIth tightVNC working there is no need for expensive services like MeetingASAP, you can share your desktop at anytime. There are other synch capabiliities that MeetingASAP provides however no matter how beautiful the last time I talked to them they could not confirm that the voice quality was not equal or better than Skype. BTW... if you want a cheap conference where everyone cam is synched on a page and one person is showing a powerpoint. Just cram it all on your screen and then tightVNC. The refresh rates on the cams will be poor for other viewers however it will cost you nothing. Everyone will know who's at their desk and watching the presentation rather than making coffee while wearing their bluetooth headset.

    For working with others expecially new people where you have never had a picture before and never met them an early introduction with a web cam is effective. For family and friends it may be appropriate. However my belief is that sharing pictures is a pretty good substitute right now. The issue is most webcams are effectively passive. They provide a head shot as the person is sitting behind their PC. Usually the cam is not directed very effectively. I really don't believe that web cams will be the big thing until they are "active" cams. By active I mean people using them while on the move, out and about. Thus when we get our PocketSkype+ installed in a UltimateWi-Fi PDA with video capability and users are out roaming we will have a webcam usage that really adds a sense of presence along with the mobility and narrative. It still won't be telepresence although we will be a lot closer.

    Finally from what I've seen and been fed about Skype performance and connectivity, their sound solution still eats up too much computing power. Add to that limitations on uploads and downloads to maintain voice quality and Skype video and Skype file exchanges may break what is good. That may provide some opportunities for others. So while Skype may have brokered new connections for some, and thus encouraged additional experimentation with webcams this user is still looking for better sound first and foremost. In that regard so should you.

    What's more this user has learned that Wi-FI Skyping from HotSpots is better than a Mobile phone when available. Thus the paradigm that threatens the landline system may have more impact on mobility than current projections suggest. Some of you may have seen the recent releases of mobile phones like the Nokia Communicator 9500 that provides the traditional cellphone features along with Wi-FI. So now consider the user experience. When they are in a hotspot sound quality goes way up. When they get home their cellphone automatically becomes the home phone and the cellphone and the quality is way up. It's just possible that the mobile providers are entering a sound spiral as well. Then I also know that despite not being to Skype via my mobile phone to laptop connection Dina has proved to me that she can do it. Looks like the Indian cellular structure is more advanced than the US!. That will make cellular connections a commodity just like the landline in time.

    Good place to close. The Online Presence Spiral. The emerging business experience parameters for communications.

    June 9, 2004

    Supernova - See You There!

    I just took a look at the list of people now signed up for Supernova in Santa Clara on June 24-25. Kevin Werbach has assembled a great group for another deep dive exploration into our decentralized future together. This will be the second time I'm attending having thoroughly enjoyed the first (December 2002) soon after beginning this blog. I'm going to be pressing the agenda for answers on Presence and Mobility with a VoIP / Collaboration hat on.

    Supernova 2004 -- June 24-25, Santa Clara, CA
    Voice over IP...Social networking...Web services...WiFi and unlicensed wireless...Blogging and syndication...Broadband applications...Next-generation email...Grid computing...Digital identity...Collaboration tools...Digital content distribution...and more. Supernova links together the most compelling technologies, and uses many of them to enhance the conference experience itself. SUPERNOVA 2004

    Start tracking the SuperNova weblog and there is the SupernovaWiki. If you can't make the event but will be in town for the dinner. Come join us all there. It will be fun.

    December 18, 2004

    Audio Blogging -- Podcast Feed

    The hottest thing in audio is podcasting. A blogger can't think about podcasting without having a suitable RSS 2.0 feed. I've now added one to this blog. Means podcasts are sure to come. See the top left. Brandon's MT-Enclosures plug-in was one of the simplest I've ever installed.

    Audio blogging is starting to take off. Currently, Movable Type has no support for audio blogs so I decided to whip up a quick plugin to provide the capability. The missing link here is automating the process of adding the special link into your RSS 2.0 feed. That is the job of this plugin. To start audio blogging, you have to do the hard part first — record the audio file. Be interesting. Let’s say you recorded as an MP3 file. Then upload the MP3 file to your web server so that it is available for download. Then create a new blog entry that announces your post and has a link to the MP3. The link should be a standard tag with the HREF pointing to the MP3. Save and rebuild your index files. Your RSS 2.0 index will now have an tag in it pointing to the MP3. You are all done!

    The plugin supports a wide variety of file "types” not just MP3! It handles audio, video, image and other file types.

    If you have Movable Type 3.0, the plugin will also ping for you when you post a new enclosure. Currently, only entries with a category of "Podcasts" will trigger pings. You can change this in the source if you like.

    Brandon Fuller

    December 20, 2004

    Skype + Podcast Recorder = SkypeCasters

    Introducing instructions for SkypeCasting. The front-end solution for podcasters to create great sounding audio recordings from interviews and conference calls using Skype. For the last few days I've been recording podcasts using Skype. As the call ends with a couple of clicks it is converted to mp3 and uploaded to a blog. This is a real bloggers solution providing podcasting in almost real-time without resorting to studios, or fancy gear. Let the New Year ring in with new voices, and new conversations. Audio and podcasting will make a difference. Let's get the thoughts out into the world. Innovate in 2005 --- start podcasting. This post contains my first podcast and the instruction on how (links at the end).

    The SkypeCasters' recipe is simple and we have written it up in detail. Add together Skype, Virtual Audio Cables, Windows Sound Recorder, a simple Wav to mp3 converter MT_Enclosures and iPodder and you can be Podcasting later today! The solution will cost you $40.

    Why podcast? Why record? Where are immediate opportunities.
    There are many situations on the phone or Skype where you would like to be recording. Professional interviews are a prime example. Makes it easier to write up your notes later while you can completely focus your attention on the interview. Then we have the equivalent of "panel" discussions. The mini conference call fueled by good chatter and a great topic. Perhaps you are a budding poet wanting to spread a reading to a small group? Want to send a joint message or birthday greeting where the parties are dispersed, record a Skype conference call and e-mail the mp3. Similarly, finishing up a conference call --- create a simple 5 minute SkypeCast of the key action points. Blog it to your group. An hour in five minutes. It's over to you now. Tell us how you use it.

    Approaching podcasting like this is different to staged professional recording studios, and big production values. We know that if you have a talented studio behind you then mixing and turning out a professional Podcast will be no problem. This is the solution for those with no money who are happy to create SkypeCasts on the fly.

    multiparty recording.jpg

    What we have done: (GET INSTRUCTIONS)

  • A simple Skype recording solution for capturing "great" audio.
  • No extra overhead. It all works on one Windows XP PC.
  • A blog platform - MT- that "reads" for podcasts.
  • A lowcost way to distribute podcasts without running up bandwidth bills (podcasttorrent)
  • Quick and simple to do.

    Here is the recipe. I'd never have completed it without BIll Campbell's help. Our "proof of concept" SkypeCast is here. We are still learning some of the mic and audio tricks. It is converted at 32mbs... although perfectly passable at 16kps it begins to sound more like a telephone... and that might not be the best Skype proof of concept test.

    Looking forward to your feedback. I'll move the recipe details shortly to a wiki so they can be updated. In the meantime let us have your comments and learnings.

    Lastly, unleashing the capability to record Skype calls isn't meant to bypass common courtesy and the smarts of asking permission before you start recording. You could get yourself into trouble sending out a podcast without permission. You may want to get it via IM when you hit record. It's clear to me that recording without permission is going to happen. I'd appreciate getting some more insights in this area. I'd note that one can SkypeOut and record this way without the other party knowing or even the caller ID being identified currently.

    Podcast on SkypeCasting

  • December 21, 2004

    Recording Laws and Solutions.

    Skype is heralding in a new world for potential recording solutions. For everyone that goes Skypecasting will want some protection. Who wants to be recorded and never get a copy? Should you get a review before it goes out. What sort of legal release is really necessary? What happens when the tape has mysterious blanks or is edited. Is there an original digital signature registry? How tamper proof will the records be. Get this right and Skype will have a role in the legal profession as well. Just imagine lawyers threatening lawyers with an IM contract confirmation and digital copies executed as the session closes. Things might move faster. Of course in Skype that requires authentication that the name really belongs to someone. Then these are things that the Skype API development team should be working on.

    Think twice before you Podcast the conversational Skypecast mp3 you just created. Take a look at the tape recording law and you know we need a solution. There are many cases where recording is legitimate and it is certainly used in every call center (ostensible for training). See Tape-recording laws at a glance

    While we are on the what's legal and not, I'm hoping a few legal eyes out there will take a look at the recording devices that are coming out. For as these devices capture your audio, with the Skype API they may also capture your buddylist, report on number of calls, time on the phone all sorts of things. Without due care you may find your PC transmitting info in the future that you were or aren't really willing to share.

    January 10, 2005

    CES Overview

    I enjoyed two days walking and walking at CES. I found some of the displays simply ridiculous. LCD overkill everywhere. Many of the most interesting products were in the innovation tent. After that my time was best spent looking in the Hilton Ballrooms at the "country" displays. Many Asian OEM manufacturers were there. It was by far the best place to find out what was in the pipeline.

    Looking around I'd say bluetooth is at a consumer tipping point. Over a year ago bluetooth was a frustration to me. For the last nine months my bluetooth headset has been indispensable. At CES bluetooth solutions are coming so fast that mobile phones without bluetooth no longer make sense. More importantly bluetooth is going to make it into the home with a new set of headsets. On this I have a separate post coming.

    Next you can't miss the coat-tailing on the iPod factor. From speakers to extra devices, the iPod world remains hot. This despite the 4 in 1 and even 5 in one mp3 related mini devices that were showcased. Still dig a little deeper and you find cell phone mockups with tiny tiny diskdrives. It can't be long before these devices really merge into one. Now a mobile with a click wheel that would be cool!

    Lastly how could I go to a show and not pay attention to Skype related products. Skype was hastily stamped on to some brochures and in other places some neat new products were emerging. I'm sure the VoIP stuff is well covered elsewhere. I'll put together a few notes in the next day or so. Interest in Skype compatible products is growing.

    January 11, 2005

    Best iPod Product at CES?

    Image(293).jpg I like the off the main path alleys at trade shows. On the fringes of the Innovation tent I discovered iJet a wireless RF iPod remote. It may not sound all that special until you consider how small the remote may become.

    iJet unlike Navipod which uses an IR (infared) control can operate up to a 100ft radius and controls 9 key functions. I'm sure the simple prototype displayed will soon have a market with Belkin or someone similar. What's so exciting is the size and the potential for the remote controls this device suggests. For example there is no reason that this control can't have a micro display. I like the iPod in my pocket, couldn't I just start changing tracks from my watch?

    And with that leap I realized that a small remote device on my watch could could answer all those calls, mute the room, and really integrate switching from one application to another, whether using a headset or the room speakers. Hang-up forward, activate device all from my watch. Starts to change the dimensions of what I may consider carrying around.

    Runner Ups on the iPod? There was iCruze from Monster Cable, and iPort in wall docking system from Sonance. Nothing like paying $300 for your iPod and then many times that to use it to extend the experience. Perhaps some of the simple cable organzers and dashboard clamps are more useful.

    January 25, 2005

    iPod Radio and Skype

    This post provides a "how to" on creating a personal iPod Radio that you can use in your Skype calls or simply leave running for your friends to call. The implications are disruptive, and the "ease of use" likely to further Skype's adoption when solutions are available for effectively using Skype as a broadcast service. It's perfect for low volume delivery of recorded messages off websites. Perhaps another zone for convergence between music, media and voice?

    (UPDATE: 02/01/05 I've taken iPodRadio offline. It's been a fun experiment and hundreds of people have participated. In the last week they have had more use of my iPod than I have. Thus I'm taking it back. If you want more info please contact me. Thanks)

    iPod Radio came out of a desire to play music in a Skype call. Something I've wanted to make work for a long time. While I've tried before it was the iPod that made it relatively simple. So now I can add background music to a Skype call. I felt it would shift perceptions and the ebb and flow of what one shares in a call. So far I've learned that music closes the distance gap even more. With Skype it was already like being in the same room. Now I can concurrently listen to the same music. It's best when Skype is running the ISAC codec. The result is the music helps to synch the two spaces making it easier to drift in and out of conversation. However, the real learning is the implications go way beyond everyone being able to listen to the same music and hold a concurrent conversation. Music over VoIP wasn't supposed to be a big deal. No one talked of PodCasts over VoIP or using VoIP as the communications mechanism. We should. Skype + iPod Radio may provide another option for the PodCast world.

    This Skype experiment confirms a number of possibilities.:

  • Add background music (radio) to your Skype calls, personalizing the experience.
  • Run a second Skype line so your friends can hear what's playing on your iPod, even when you aren't home.
  • Broadcast podcast audio using Skype saving bandwidth, and eliminating buffering and streaming issues.
  • Demonstrate infomercials. Examples: snow report, customer update, daily briefing, etc. Access direct from website via callto: tags.
  • Note when we automate the recording selection from a website you will listen to Skype playback your request. This will be HUGE!
  • What are the implications for Streaming Media models? Why wait for the buffering? What is tomorrow's transit mechanism?

    From a Podcast perspective distributing podcasts via SkypeCalls provides the the opportunity for the Podcaster to know who's listening and even whether they listened to the whole thing. Statistics are a big deal! Further automation could enable one to listen and then via a text message to request a full file download. Bye Bye bandwidth problems and hello Podcast communications transport mechanism. No ports to open, no special FTP. Sounds perfect for when you get 30 people listening for a podcast if you are lucky!

    Document pdf Creating an iPod Radio on Skype

    Click the picture above or this link iPod Radio on Skype to connect with iPod radio. I've set it up so if it is busy you will get a short Skype VM message. and you will have to try again. It's just playing tunes off my iPod and I have no idea what it may be playing when you ring. I will try and leave it on. It's running on my laptop which isn't going anywhere in the next couple of days. Clearly this is very narrowcast radio, not quite what the Pirates thought. Still I bet there are some uses that the above could be put to that we've not even begun to consider.

    Other links that may be of interest:
    SkypeCasting: How to Record Skype Conversations
    Telephony and Music
    Jeff Pulver on Ringtones: This could be extended.
    VoIP Predictions for 2005. Music and VoIP don't seem to be in the picture. Perhaps it should be!
    iPod Pirate Radio

    iPod Radio on Wi-Fi?
    The Pirate Radio Station
    iPod-FM 95.9 Great Picture... now what is the SkypeRadio tag?
    Engadget's take on Pirate Radio
    Why VoIP is music to Kazaa's ear

    Is radio really the right metaphor for this? Perhaps not, although you could plug a radio station in just as easily as I plugged in the ipod. However it does make it easy to broadcast audio content and even extend it to a multiparty conference. Then it may create a new Skype option for "Music" on hold.

    So ultimately! How disruptive could this be? Think this way and there are some new opportunities. Engineer out a few little things and use a proper recorder and it becomes very interesting. I hope the sound quality holds up. It has been very good.

  • November 13, 2005

    Timeline to the Future

    Nice look at the future. Food for thought.

    Further out, things start to get uncomfortable. BT puts a date of 2029 for the much anticipated 'singularity point' when computers become more intelligent than humans. The scary thing being that if Moore's Law still holds by then, they will be twice as intelligent by 2031. PC Pro: News: BT looks into the future

    December 12, 2005

    The Push n Pull of ITConversations

    I've taken to listening to ITConversations on all my plane flights. In the tight confines of economy I fine its just the business for hearing how others are thinking about the world. It's also nice to tune into a conference or disucssion.

    I'd listened to John Seely Brown at Supernova. He got a lot of attention for his presentation at the time. It's also made it out as a Supernova2005 podcast via IT Conversations. So I found myself listening to it again. It was appropriate and timely as I was just about to step into another innovation workshop. The theme is Outsourcing and the future of how companies collaborate. It's all consistent with Web 2.0 etc.

    I'm not going to review it here. I'll just say it gels with my thoughts on consumer power and the radical revolution that we are on the cusp of. Give it a few more years and we will be there.

    Here's the link to the Podcast. Download
    Here's the link to the article and white paper.

    July 17, 2007

    Facebook and Mydentity

    A few years ago (about 2002) there was a meme Mydentity I think first put up by Eric Norlin and others summarized here by Doc Searls which had me writing about Trust Circles.

    Two months ago I considered launching a "Facebook Journal"as I am ready for a new challenge and I'd learnt from Skype Journal what both the advantages and disadvantages of such a strategy are. While it could be done; (there are some "Facebook" Tracking blogs already out there) the thought really traced to Facebook's evolution and the excitement it would generate. Yet it is not the real meme that is exploding here. Under it all is a greater need  for an "Identity solution"

    Then at Supernova I missed seeing much chatter about Facebook (Kevin tried to insert it). The following week we arranged a small Facebook Face-Off - a small group adding applications in an accelerated learning and communications session. I'd recommend this to anyone, even novices who haven't been on any of these networks before. 

    Three memes have recently emerged that are interesting to me.

    • Concentrating SNS on Facebook:
    • Facebook as an Identity Solution
    • Stuart Henshall is Media
    My SNS on Facebook
    I'd already started concentrating my networking efforts onto Facebook. However, it was a note by Jeff Pulver on Facebook yesterday (see his blog) that made the choice I'd already been making explicit. I'll admit that Facebook was the same ah-ha moment for me that accompanied Skype, Paypal, Napster, and eBay. I still dislike its closed nature however it works. It also means I've been inviting and enocouraging others to join. Something I've not done on a social network since Ryze. LinkedIn only existed because it was "approved" of by business types. I never had any fun there. My observation is the threshold to exchange is much lower on Facebook vs LinkedIn. Jeff notes the same re referrals. More importantly the exhaust gas from everyones activities helps to maintain and even strengthen weak ties. Facebook as Scoble notes is set to replace my contact lists.

    Facebook and Identity
    Any large community today can potentially offer an Identity solution. Jeremiah Owyang works of some predictions for Facebook, Identity and Social Networks. He correctly identifies that blog comments  require a better log-in system and his post provides a Books on Campus log-in via Facebook. Which is just another app. I'd be happy to provide this as an option tomorrow on my Blog. I'm still wrestling with the OpenID system in MT4.0. Perhaps a Facebook plug-in would be simpler. However using a Facebook Identity to log-in to other sites is really only half the battle. The question is will Facebook allow us to log-in with an OpenId. I'd like to see one identity for all my communications. I'd still like =stuart to mean something. However, while Facebook is aggregating my directory it is also aggregating micro-content. The power in Facebook is the directory. We don't have 1000+ connections anywhere else. In fact the belief was 150. Facebook overturns that. You cannot move a personal directory of 10000 or more. Scoble already has 3000+. I'm still waiting for an OpenID app for Facebook. It would work around communications access in a channel agnostic fashion and manage access depending on the relationship; an area where Facebook manages poorly. See also Facebook is now the New OpenID

    I am Media:
    I liked this post by Roi Carthy and the pharse "I am Media". He links to Robert Scoble is Media This reinforced the discussion we had yesterday in the Yitan call on Facebook. The discussion started about exhaust gas.

    One of the more interesting aspects of Facebook -- at least to those over 22 years of age, for whom much of today's Net may seem counterintuitive -- is the way it works by routing seemingly insignificant exhaust data to your network of friends.

    Do I really need to know the latest favorite book you posted? That you're now buddies with Sam? Apparently yes.
    Facebook will reward those that share. If you believe like me that the more you share the more you will ultimately get back then Facebook shouldn't be too hard to understand. As a blogger I've learned that the more I blog the more I get back and that is a good reason to get back in the blogging habit. I'm still not using Facebook effectively, and there are many behaviors we will all learn that make it more effective.  I hear the same rejections and same not for business comments that I've heard about other social tools. Get over it. Start experimenting.

    As we learn to share more it will become easier to aggregate information about ourselves. That is where the future is. In the meantime Facebook while interesting still lacks really meaningful controls.

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    August 29, 2007

    Blogger's Posts Launch Mosoci

    I didn't expect to blog today about new ventures and plans. Then in a world of twitter steams, IM exchanges and general old fashion sharing we often get the "push" that accelerates us forward down the path. I found Ken Camp and Dan York this morning blogging and humbling us with what they had found at Mosoci. Mosoci is the new venture that Dina and I have set up to formalize a collaboration that goes back a few years. There's more at Mosoci where we are still very much in the alpha - beta point of working out how to best integrate our lifestreams. Now we get to do it live.  It's exciting and frankly rewarding to live in a time where news and commentary just makes you say... "Oh Wow!".

    We know we would not be doing this without everyone that has read our blogs over the last few years. Social Media built the platform for our collaboration and the sense that our network and community would support, participate with us and help us grow. Now it is beyond an idea and yet it is still being formulated. We certainly don't want to end up as just the two of us. Today though we are happy to feel like we are in a constant state of beta. That's the zone where it is a real rush.

    Thank you for your support, praise and interest. Our blogs and blogging will evolve just like our other social media activities are. For example we are really enjoying bringing our bookmarking into the feed. For now our tweets are there too. That may be overwhelming. Then it may also be helpful. We'll let the readers tell us.

    It would be great if you would jump in on the conversation at Mosoci and add MosociRSS to your reader. We'd love your feedback and suggestions.

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