Progress

It's Not All That It's Cracked Up To Be

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When I was a kid, I lived for 3 years in Singapore. That was long enough ago that you didn’t just pick up the phone and call home. If my mum wanted to talk to her mum, well, let’s just say that it wasn’t easy, the process including booking the time, weeks in advance and parting with significant spondulicks per minute of conversation.

Fast forward to today and, well let’s just say that you can pretty much pick up any phone and call anyone else with a phone and just talk to them, though thanks to the monopolies of the cell companies we still seem to part with significant spondulicks per minute of conversation if we are calling internationally, but that’s a different story.

That system was devised 150 years ago and allows anyone to call anyone using freely available hardware (no software) ‘just like that’.

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Email is a newcomer in comparison, it is only 50 years old (or at least it will be next year) and once it moved out of ARPANET, beyond the intranets and broke free of the early versions of the Compuserve/AOL type networks anyone with an email account (software - no hardware) could send anyone else an email. In turn, the recipient can receive it - no special equipment needed and certainly no need to be on the same system as the sender.

Fast Forward to The ‘State of the Art’ Communications for the 21st century, where before connecting with someone, you need to answer …

This is not to say that you specifically run through this checklist, but it is in the back of your mind - because the other question you need answered is what do they use, because

  • You know that if ‘they’ want to use ‘Skype’, you too will be using ‘Skype’.

  • If ‘they’ prefer you don’t text them and that you should ‘just call their cell’, that is what you will do!


The world has adopted - at massive speed and urgency over the last 9 months - the idea of video calling/conferencing.

Zoom seems to be the winner of that particular race. It was Skype’s to lose. They did.

But … but - you still can’t delete apps like Skype, Go-To-Meeting, Microsoft Teams, Webex, Google Hangouts, BlueJeans, Adobe Connect, Join.me … because they don’t talk to each other and people still use them.

Why can’t I use my client of choice to communicate with anyone else on their client of choice? It’s even worse - have you noticed that Zoom won’t even connect to Zoom if the Zoom hasn’t been updated to some minimum version number?

When you get to ‘messaging’ - it’s even worse. Do you remember when your dad called you up after sending an email to check it was received? We laughed!

We’ve gone in a full circle. Now you send a message and if no reply you call the recipient to ask whether you used the right channel because let’s face it when you message someone your choice is SMS, iMessage, LinkedIn, WeChat, Whats App, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat … and that doesn’t include the new secure apps like Signal, Telegram and Keybase - who knows what they are using?

In the alphabet soup of apps - you just hope for the best!

In ‘days of future passed’, there was a concept called the ‘Universal Inbox’. A single app that brought all messaging into a single place. The term is still around, but the implementations fall well short of the promise and yet needed urgently.

Here’s Why (I think)

The newly emerging global communication software and networks are being built on private platforms that are intentionally not opening their doors to allow others to access. In fact it’s quite the opposite. If someone works out a way to connect from outside, that ‘bug’ is fixed. Money is made by lock-in, not by openness. Once again, people come second to the corporation.

If I’m wrong - would love to hear from you, come join us and let us know when you think we will move off platforms and on to protocols?

The People First Network

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