Voice 2.0 – what am I talking about?

People use words every day. Communicating depends on some amount of shared understanding of those words. In my experience, people often use words with not a care about whether anyone agrees what those words mean. This is especially true with fad words and technical jargon.

Ever since Alec Saunders put out a plea for creating a meme around the term Voice 2.0, I’ve tried to use that term consistently. I’m not in love with the “2.0” naming idea in general, but Alec has a point, and we have to have something that we can use for a short-hand.

Based on comments around the net to my recent Where are the Voice 2.0 developers? post, it’s clear people are reading different things into that term. When I use Voice 2.0, I’m referring to something at a very high level. Many people commented to the effect that the 2.0 in Voice 2.0 implies building on 1.0. I don’t see it that way at all. To me, Voice 2.0 is just a tag to mean “not the same old thing”. It doesn’t mean a specific technology or suggest anything about PSTN or other such, necessarily.

Alec’s definition of Voice 2.0 is a pretty good starting point, but when I’m using the term, I’m speaking even more general than that. Several people suggested that Voice 2.0 is an illusion we’ve created for ourselves. I essentially agree. It’s a manifestation of the echo chamber. So what? That’s how memes get started.

In my vision for Voice 2.0 voice becomes more like the best of the Internet. It becomes like email, where calls have no inter–provider tax (recip comp/termination fees) and you can talk to anybody no matter what service the two of you are using. SIP addresses look a lot like email addresses for a reason (sip:me@mydomain.com) – why can’t we use them that way by now? My vision for Voice 2.0 is a platform that is analogous to the web model where anybody for very low entry cost can put up the potential “next big thing” service and see if it flies. This attribute of the Internet is what spawned the best applications/services over the past 15 years. If we had to wait for the “big guys” to come up with the new things, we’d still be back in 1992.

One of the downsides of using a term like Voice 2.0 is people can make up their own definition and argue points you’re not even making, respond to things you’re not saying. This post won’t change that, but at least I now have on record a little bit of clarification about what I’m referring to when I use the term.