Skype Journal Test

Friday, August 22, 2008

Phweet bypasses airline VoIP blockade

I want to build on Jim Courtney's post about Phweet on an airplane. Two social observations, a societal one, and a strategic one. But first,

  • Air Skype, Skype Journal, April 2005. Skype on a transatlantic flight, with voice. Skyping to the International Space Station.

  • Skype Air Heads, Skype Journal, June 2005. Plane-to-plane Skyping.

  • Stratosphere Puffery, Skype Journal, July 2005. Boeing shows off their Connexion service. (RIP Connexion).

Bah. Humbug.

Hububaphobia (a fear of other people talking) is an anxiety not rooted in reality. Volume's not a problem if people talk to each other on the plane/train, so talking to someone who's not there shouldn't add to noise.

There is no social obligation for silence waiting in line. Don't hold up the line when you get to the front and you'd done your part.

The same is true on transport: don't interfere with our collective purpose by making us wait for you to stow your electronics before taking off or landing. This shouldn't be confused with talking around such events.

Excessively loud talking is transitional; we'll adjust our expectations and our headphones. Don't be afraid of talk.

Airlines should encourage inflight talk.

Talking to other passengers rocks. Well seated strangers who share travels in the spirit of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. Heck, partner with matching sites so we can go speed dating for social, political, sports, and other mutual interests to find seat partners.

Talking to people who aren't on the plane has value too.

  • It shares the flight experience with people who aren't there.
  • It sates passengers who need to feel productive.
  • It lets people coordinate their next steps without the "radio silence followed by a burst of catching up upon landing" now imposed on most flights. 
  • It keeps people connected to those they leave behind at a time of stress and separation. 

As the world enters a state of default connectedness, the airline is breaking a social norm when they force disconnection.

Don't Muzzle Me

Disrupting my ability to talk is hurtful.

Technology and safety aside, this is a censorship, blocking, and net neutrality issue. Once you open the digital speech floodgates, be neutral with regard to software, modes of communication, and end points.

Like air, we need connectivity, and all our modes of talk to survive.

Depriving us of access to air? Waterboarding.

Phweet breaks through

The real story: Skype was blocked. Five years' old, with millions of users, millions in cumulative revenue, advanced p2p, networking, and video technologies, hundreds of engineers.

Meanwhile, Phweet just worked. A ruthlessly simple, two person, few months' old, browser-to-browser, flash voice-only, moderate audio quality app.

All the hallmarks of disruption. And a strong signal that download-free talk, web-centered talk, over-the-top talk is a sweet spot.

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