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October 29, 2007

My New Gig

I’ve taken a sabbatical from my retirement to be startup Chief Technical Officer (CTO) for FWD International, the service enabler featured in yesterday’s post. Enabling voice, video, and other forms of communication into and between social media sites and connecting that all with other networks is too exciting to pass up as an opportunity for going back to my roots and getting my hands dirty.

We’ve set ourselves the discipline of designing interpersonal communications with the following constraints:

Communication is permission-based. You can reach me and vice versa only with authorization which can be withdrawn. Why? Because as the price of communication has gone down, the amount of unwanted communication has gone up. in nerd terms the noise to signal ratio is rising. Facebook has fairly rudimentary communication tools but the concept of “friends” and permission-based communication between them is very useful.

Every user owns his or her directory information and decides how it gets used. Period.

Communication is between people with names, not between devices, not to or from numbers. But the names can be aliases.

There should be no islands. Not all your friends live in one city and they don’t all use the same social network; but they’re all your friends and reaching them through social networks and the rich directories of those networks makes sense. Users of any competitors we have are welcome to communicate with direct and indirect users of our service so long as the people they’re communicating with allow it.

Every communication can include text, pictures, voice (sound, actually) and video. It’s up to the people communicating and only constrained by what devices they have handy.

Any communication can be real time or not. Up to you and whomever you’re communicating with and your mutual availability.

Presence information is very important. See the point immediately above.

Charging incrementally for intrapersonal interpersonal communication is passé. Traditional phone-like billing systems cost more than they’re worth and are an impediment to communication. E-mail is at least a partial model here. That ha implications for controlling our costs, though.

Everything we do should be exposed through the simplest APIs possible. Communication will be built into zillions of sites, services, and application we haven’t even imagined. We want to be part of a lot of that communication so we have to make it easy for developers to bake us into what they’re building so that they can concentrate on their differentiation.

And there’s one non-constraint:

We’re not letting ourselves worry about downward compatibility with the POTS network – too limiting and it won’t be around all that long (my opinion). We won’t fight having someone connect our users to POTS ( see the no islands rule!); but that’s not our business and we don’t want to dumb down our design (or compromise the quality of our audio) for POTS compatibility.

No nerd could resist the challenge of putting together the design and team to make this happen. I didn’t resist so I have a new gig. It’ll last until we’re well-launched and have a “real” CTO.

If you’re at VON in Boston this week, come see the FWD team at booth 1010.

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» FWD International’s Design Objectives from EnThinnai Blog
Two weeks back, one of my inspirational leaders Tom Evslin announced that he is taking on the duties of CTO for FWD International. In that post, he revealed that FWD International will be “[e] nabling voice, video, and other forms of communication in... [Read More]

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