Poking The Skunk

Seems our Director of Engineering may have ignighted a bit of a dust-up with his VON wrap post, wherein he gave his honest opinion about the IP Communications Industry confab held in Boston from September 12 – 14.

Today, a full two weeks after the fact, I've got people in my ear and in my face pointing out how Tom Keating over at TMC and Garrett Smith at VoIPSupply picked up on Eric's post and used it to get a little conversation going about the health and direction of the IP Communications space, and about the purpose and value of trade shows in general.

I understand Jeff Pulver even had a few WTF comments for our CEO, though this whole thing makes me think just a little bit about Marcelo's very first post in this space about the very nature of the VoIP blogosphere.

So, I'll toss in my two cents and see if I can help straighten out a few things, or whether it just rattles more cages.

To begin with, this isn't the first time Mr. Keating has used his forum to divert our attention here at Voxilla from our main purposes, which are to serve our customers and to provide timely, accurate information about the people, products, and policies that drive our industry. Last year he raised a great stink claiming our reporter, Carolyn Schuk, had stolen one of his ideas for a story we ran on our front page, and basically asked the industry to question our credibility if Ms. Schuk didn't print an apology and give him credit for the story.

Turns out Carolyn had been working on the story for several weeks, long before Tom posted anything about it in his blog, and the "ideas" underlying the whole thing were matters of common knowledge and common sense, accessible to anyone who might care to think about them. After it was clearly proven that Voxilla's reporter had done none of the things of which Mr. Keating accused her, rather than offer an apology to her, he simply removed his original post from the TMC site.

With today's post, Mr. Keating comes at Voxilla in a slightly more oblique manner, but it wrankles me none-the-less. Why lead your item with reference to something two weeks old? If you want to start a conversation about whether Jeff Pulver is turning his focus from Voice to Video after 10 years at the forefront of IP Communications, why not just do that? It seems to me there are any number of good lead-ins that can accomplish the goal of getting a conversation going without using one individual's personal comments to set the stage.

In addition, it's incorrect for Mr. Keating to have said "Voxilla…was disappointed in this past VON show." Eric was personally disappointed for reasons he mentioned in his blog item, but as a company — and I gave Pulvermedia representatives positive comments to this effect at the conclusion of the show — we were actually pleased with the turnout, the vibe, and the opportunities we had to reaffirm some longstanding alliances, and to open doors to new ones.

Now, I think it's all fine and good to have a conversation about the maturation of the IP Communications industry and to speculate on whether video is poised to overwhelm voice as the driver of innovation in the technology, even to fantasize about Jeff Pulver's future focus and motivation. It's also good to question the economic health of the industry and to read in the success or failure of shows like VON and ITEXPO the future of the industry and of the economy in general.

The fact of the matter is there's an awful lot of money floating around out there chasing the Next Big Thing and it seems like a whole lot of people still believe in the money-for-nothing dreams created by the original Dot Com Boom of the Go-Go 90s.

I've been paring down my own expectations for the past several years and looking for people and things of lasting value in my life and in the investments I make of my time and my resources.

I happen to believe the innovations coming out of the globalization of the marketplace and out of the shrinking of barriers to communication being provided by the Internet lie at the heart of some very valuable processes and technologies that will define the way business is conducted and the way people will interact for many years to come. And I feel fortunate to have an opportunity to participate in the development of some of those things, perhaps even to influence them in some small way, by my work with Voxilla.

So, by all means, let's have a little more conversation, but let's keep it to the things that matter, can we?