The Idea of Availability
I can’t remember who I was talking about this to but, stuck at the airport Starbucks again I thought I’d blog my thoughts while they’re not too addled by caffeine.
I have Skype, I have Packet8, I have GPRS, I have landlines, I have Instant Messaging. So why is IM the smartest of the bunch? Because it knows when I’m available, and it tells anyone I want the same information. If I’m not online, then I’m not available on IM, so there’s not much point in reaching me. Telephones don’t have this feature: Users have no way of telling whether the person they’re calling is available (or where they are, or any of that kind of information). Why not?
Of course it’s not just a question of being online, but being ‘available’ in the sense of wanting to accept calls.
Skype also has this feature because it doubles as a chat program, but that illustrates the complexities of these different tools. Do I want to accept calls from people I’m happy to IM with? (Say it’s 6 am where I am, do I really want to talk business with someone in their afternoon timezone, or do I always want to chat to my niece in the middle of the day?
Tricky questions, but I’d like to hear from folk who are working on this concept of communication. How do we offer both the caller and the called great leverage over communications without further invading privacy, or introducing new layers of social mores?
First off I’d like to see VoIP allow, if it doesn’t already, services that enable users of the same service to see whether other users are near their phone (if they permit this information to be available). Maybe this kind of thing already exists?
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