A lot of friends have been sending me the Virgo Newsletter with the announcement of their running of VON. Congratulations to them. Virgo has a history of delivering their community and I am sure it will continue.
When VON first started, free voice was the really cool idea and VoIP looked like the perfect vehicle. VON was cool when Jeff Pulver started it and with Jeff’s background as a ham radio operator it enabled him to think about the patch between packet and circuit as a given. I came from the bell headed opposing side of the equation. “Look at what this data traffic does to my switches”, I said when I was in the phone company and I was interested in putting the traffic on something that moved the traffic differently. Together we were a blend of Internet and Bell thinking that was very good and I give Jeff a lot of credit for his creativity.
Jeff was on the cool apps side, while I brought in the people who wanted to make efficient networks to support them. That to me was VON, but to our audience VON was a lot of things. It was Cool Apps, New Opps, brillant minds and the switch to cheap voice, etc.
It maybe the community embraces Virgo’s VON as the place to meet. However, VON’s audience was fragmented and its important to note that it will probably stay that way at least for a while. Comptel, GTM, IT Expo, SIP World, VoiceCon and VON will have community participation with people looking to save money. Ecomm, Open Mobile, and SoComm and everything GigaOm’s shop does will have the cool apps and the social crowd.
I think VON was a phenomenon because it was at the center of the migration from circuit to packet and the embracing of the Internet for the Landline side. I am now focused on a similar migration to wireless I call the 4G Wireless Evolution .
My carrier friends still deploy VoIP, but the end user does not benefit. We lost the innovation of presence in delivering the voice when we connected to the PSTN. I know the same thing will not happen this time around, but I am not sure how it will manifest in our experience and hope its not just our phone number list having the green status dots now part of our mailbox?
The cool aspect is no longer cheap voice, its integrated voice. Integrated voice that is Web 2.0, context – aware, voice embedded applications on your TV, browser, game box and your phone. That thread will be in all of the events. I believe that voice will one day be a function and not a service, but for today the world is a blend of bundles; some in the old models, some in the new and some in unexpected ways.
In these times, I also believe all of our events will lose some old friends, find some new ones and be surprised by the unexpected.