All social media from the early days of BBS and Unix News Groups and the rudimentary email (some of us remember cutting our teeth on VAX/VMS mail and VMS Notesfiles) all have a similar purpose to the oo wow things people are doing now on the web. Basically the VMS Phone utility was not dissimilar to IM or even twitter if you used it in a certain way (like call 8 people at the same time and just let it rip). Given the change in technology, the format and use has not changed in 30 years. We’ve just added color and backgrounds. In truth I kinda miss the old virus’s that you could get on VMS mail that would turn all your fonts upside down or make your screen look like it was melting in line drawing characters.
That being said the true new thing is video. Yes people have been doing YouTube for a while, but now only with ubiquitous cable or fios is it really practical to post videos or even stream in IM. Last week, my wife and I talked each night via our two mac laptops…I was in Mountain View, CA and she was in our home 3000 miles away in Mass. We didn’t use the phone (except to make initial contact…a holdover from the last century).
The nuance that has occured is that video is now being used (including YouTube) to do what the blogging and microblogging sites have been doing. You can post the equivalent of tweets on 12secondtv or start a thread of conversation on seesmic and of course YouTube allows you to do both to some extent.
This is an interesting application of the technology because now you not only don’t have to do the equivalent of IM (1-n immediate communication) in video, you can leave your thought and your image in time and other people can comment. The business application of this is huge. Combining these three technologies (video contact, video posting, video comment threading) essentially makes the Jetsons for real.
In the late 1800’s 3 inventors created the prototypes for the technology we are using today. Alexander Graham Bell invented the audio immediate point to point communication over a wire and Thomas Edison created the recording spindle, and George Eastman the simple and cheap way to take pictures and share them. Pictures became videos, the recording spindle became audio recording and the phone was the first IM.
Combining those three proto-technologies, you now have personal video instant messaging and posting and commenting. No the computer was not the breakthrough…the computer was a technology on which the previous ideas got accelerated. the computer is the equivalent to moving from tubes to transistors to semiconductors. They in of themselves don’t do anything without an application. I remember the light pen on the 3270 terminals on the IBM/360’s…then you have a mouse and now touch screen monitors or pads. Same application on a new technology: Pointing.
On my desk at work I have an IP phone. it has a set of features that seem cool at first and somehow anachronistic. I barely use it…only when it is an absolute necessity to call someone who I have not already contacted 6 different ways across the internet, OR to patch into a meeting call…which could easily be done on the other box on my desk that is showing me the slides.
The business applications of this are huge. The other phone technology that will morph along with this is voicemail. Once a person has a cheap way to capture those messages in video from their mother that doesn’t require them to become a computer nerd, we have arrived. I’d hate to see what the automated voicemail spam from marketers will morph into though…I can imagine having insurance companies/mortgage companies hitting me with spam on my video cell phone…ugh…
So I’ve babbled on long enough. And if you noticed, I typed this all in…I really should have made a video blog of this and put it on youtube, but I wasn’t brave enough to try and talk without a script from inside of Panera bread. Maybe I will when I clean up the script a bit. Then I think I will have moved myself into that world.