Spring VON - Day 2

Jeff Pulver just kicked off Spring VON 2006, and his keynote focused on where VON has come from over the past 10 years, and where the future is going. He's always got a catchy title, and this one is titled "Eve of Destruction", appropos to the heavy handed pop hit from one hit wonder Barry McGuire, who was came out of the San Francisco scene 40 years ago, just up the road from San Jose. This title wouldn't work so well for Fall VON in Boston, but it sure fits for this locale. Nice idea, Jeff.

The story of how VON got here is familiar to anyone who's seen Jeff's keynotes. Nothing new there, but it's still worth telling in the sense that IP is very much like the early days of rock and roll. The pioneers knew they were on to something good, and it felt good to do, but there really were no rules, and a lot of happy accidents happen along the way. Once rock and VoIP started to find an audience, both started to become successful in a big way, and after enough time passes, it's hard to remember what came before it. VoIP is well on it way to doing what rock music did.

It's always good to hear Jeff recount his early efforts at making VoIP calls and how his Ham radio passion provided many of the reference points that quickly transferred over to VoIP. And maybe most important of all, Jeff didn't come from telecom - he was just doing was seemed right, and he made it work with a lot of trial and error. Jeff referred to himself as "technology geologist" with these early efforts - that works for me!

Of course, VoIP was a pretty radical idea then, and we've come so far now with VoIP, it's easy to forget that. Just like when you switched from dial-up to broadband, you quickly forget there really was a practical reason - to stop tying up your phone line when going on the Net. Who thinks about that any more?

Looking ahead, Jeff's message was mainly about video, and the power of the Internet to transform the broadcast industry. Jeff has been on this track for some time, and it's hard not to see how IP is starting to impact the broadcast sector, much the way it's been transforming the voice business the past 2 years. I'm not alone in wanting to see VON broaden its scope to address this booming area, and I'm certain Jeff is on the case.

Jeff has become a strong advocate of Slingbox ever since discovering it last year. It's a great example of how with the right devices, the power of the Internet to put broadcast quality media in your hands changes the whole notion of how we experience video, and more importantly, the relationship between content providers and users.

It's another one of those paradigm shifts that I think most people in the audience understand. And rightly so, Jeff concluded by saying we are the people who are driving IP innovation, and the opportunity is there for all of us to make change happen. No argument there.

Finally, Jeff encouraged everyone to sign the Net Neutrality petition that Pulver.com wants to submit to Congress. As much as everyone here "gets it" on this issue, it's clear that others see it differently, and this is very a defining issue for the future of the Internet and IP communications. So, please, sign up any way you can.

I've got some photos coming as well as a video of the first few minutes of Jeff's remarks, taken with my Nokia N90. Hope to get these posted later today.