Stuart Henshall's Presentation at eComm 2009


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  • Good Morning! It’s wonderful to see so many friends here.

  • consider this statement....

    For the “pulse of telephony” to remain relevant it must be faster than Twitter.

  • or this learning....

    While the pulse of Twitter is faster than Facebook it is nowhere near fast enough yet for telephony.

  • How do I know? Well as the founder of Phweet.... I have a little experience...

    I’ve got 10 minutes to talk you round to my view..... that
    “signaling” the Twitter way
    may be the future for telephony.....

    I’ll add at the outset this concept may seem broken to some of you. Let me introduce it by sharing a story.

  • Well over a year ago I was experimenting with a jail-broken iphone and an “unofficial” twitter app called Twinkle. Twinkle allowed you to “tweet” (send a short message / status update to twitter) from an iPhone. Twinkle was also tied in to the iPhone’s GPS. So each time you Twinkled you provide a location based tweet. Up till then I’d been playing with Twitter for 18 months. Yet this was the app and the moment that really gave me the “ah ha” where I thought Twitter had the chance to really change communications in ways we’d not thought about before.

  • I was near here in San Carlos and tweeted “does anyone know where the best hamburger in town is?” I must have been near the epicenter of the Twinkle universe for in moments I had a Tweeted recommendation from a local Tweeter on twinkle. Someone I did not know.

    It seemed almost perfect. You can just politely tweet a question and anyone may see your tweet and simply point you on your way.

  • But what if I’d tweeted ... Anyone Know the best hamburger joint in town? Want to join me for dinner?

    This is a transaction fraught with difficulty in Twitter. It requires an almost immediate response. Unfortunately, in most of these systems there is too much friction.

  • Let’s say I get an immediate response. “Yes” I’d like to!

    How do I escalate this exchange? What if more than one person responds? I have a problem. We’ve never shared numbers? I know you as a profile with a history of tweets. I can’t even DM or direct message you for in the twitterverse you aren’t following me.... Yet we are agreeing to have dinner together.

  • In fact bridging the world of social communications with traditional telephony is a growing problem. Telephony doesn’t work effectively when the networks are closed. My Tweet example works because it is open; anyone can see it, and anyone may respond.

  • In this way Twitter differs from IM networks and telephony because it’s “receiver” based. The receiver decides what to do. By contrast IM systems and telephony put the caller in charge. It’s set up to confer rights to interrupt you at any time once you have approved your buddy or given away your number. There’s limited or little control for context.... Cross network connections can be fraught with difficulty and cost.

  • This makes Twitter interesting. We’ve always had to communicate with people that are outside our buddylist or address book. And we got those numbers directly, though friends or by looking them up in a directory like the white or yellow pages. Yet today it is massively more complicated. I bet all of you have more than one phone number, a multitude of emails, and IM services. And you don’t really care as long as you can “talk” when appropriate on the device you want without unwanted interruptions.

    So I’ll probably get the wrong number or be dumped into some voice mail. As a model fragmented channels are increasingly inefficient. Google or Twitter search for a profile may become the answer.

  • Let’s change my story slightly. Suppose it was the Hamburger joint that responds. They are probably happy to tweet their number in public to me. But we still have problems. The call I make now will be without context “the best hamburger joint in town” and without the profile I’d provided which said I work for Zagats. Someone else answers the phone and there’s no connection to the “tweet exchange” which may have been automated based on my location and tweet. That just cost the business an opportunity.

  • With all our smart communications it seems strange that Telephony fails to provide context or adequate profile before the call. Individually we try and infer it and we often fail. Calls like this get ignored when maybe they shouldn’t have been.

  • Let’s change the story again. Now my tweet for the best hamburger joint gets a response from a very pretty woman. She tweets “I’d be happy to show you the best hamburger place in town and finishes the message with a short URL.

    Now this URL was my initial insight to making twitter talk. I though if people can share images and data links via URL’s .... W
    hy can’t a URL set up a telephone conversation?

    At that point I got together with David Beckemeyer. We worked out how to make Twitter talk and then applied for a couple of patents. To test it we put it in public alpha and called it Phweet for Phone plus Tweet.

  • This is how it works and we quickly found we had something really different. In a Phweet based world you send a “Talk Request” into Twitter.

    So what happens. I send a text based signal outside the operators control suggesting that we both talk . The signal may be public or private.

  • When the recipient get it... they click on the URL which depending on your settings in Twitter can be set to notify you by email or SMS. SMS is best!

  • it opens and I’m presented the context of the call and the profile of the caller.

    If I accept the call then we are connected. No further information is exchanged

    You determine how you want to connect to the Phweet exchange. I don’t need to know. As the receiver you decide how you will route this call. To desktop, mobile etc.

  • Once the call is connected (if public) the status messages in twitter are updated. Indeed others can join the call by clicking on the URL and requesting to join.

    The result is the call signal is outside the carriers control. The call records are associated with the profiles and updates of the participants are freed from the telephone system.

  • The Phweet exchange represents a simple contract. Currently telephony provides no user opportunity to manage the conditions under which calls are presented or completed. I have no power to attach documents to a call which will only be made available if we talk. Similarly it is difficult for me to share an encryption key which could be passed as part of the URL.

  • For the receiver managing inbound URL’s and thus talk requests is now much more plausible. We can filter for common directory services. EG we let Facebook, Twitter, other networks, companies, etc... control the identity layer.

    We effectively now have a personal gateway in place. By disintermediating the directory layer we - you and I can determine which calls to take which to ignore and where to direct them. They can also be qualified by the services we use.

    This solution will also makes a mockery of carrier interconnect agreements

  • It creates new opportunities too. To demonstrate we also have a persistent phweet model. This is an example. It is like a classified ad or SkypeMe. The difference is its not directed at anyone. Each ad still has social profiles, and the advertiser is now in control. They will always know the context of why someone wants to connect and determine when they connect. It would be possible to go cross profiles and networks. Here the Advertiser may cancel the exchange at any time. Note you could give out a persistent URL instead of your phone number.

  • Perhaps you will accept that the world of DTMF tones is looking restrictive. There is no dial-tone. We’re moving to a world in which the majority of “calls” will be set up by communications that are outside the carriers control. “The value is shifting dramatically to “before the call”!!!!

  • Another example. Think about any company that gets calls for service. Wouldn’t it be preferable and more efficient to get a profile and the context before the customers end up waiting in a call queue? Customers may pay extra to facilitate a customer service exchange with specific guarantees where they can present their context and profiles in advance.

  • We saw Phweet as an agnostic solution. We didn’t see one ID or channel for all communications. We used Twitter because it was convenient and relatively cheap to prototype around. There’s no reason (other than a little funding) I can’t attach any number of profiles, channels and contractual agreements to the URL exchanges I create.

  • When the exchange and signaling fall under the users control it’s names and relationships that matter. It’s not about numbers anymore. The pulse of telephony can be humanized.

    If you’d like to talk about twitter, phweet,the phweet API, telephony and more, David and I’d be happy to chat with you. @stuarthenshall. @mrblog.

  • Thank you
  • Stuart Henshall's Presentation at eComm 2009

    1. 1. No Numbers - CallerID 2.0 @stuarthenshall
    2. 2. consider this... For the “pulse of telephony” to remain relevant it must be faster than Twitter
    3. 3. or... while the pulse of Twitter is faster than Facebook it is nowhere near fast enough yet for telephony
    4. 4. “smart links talking” phone + tweet
    5. 5. status and call signals
    6. 6. how to escalate?
    7. 7. social communications
    8. 8. Who’s in charge? The receiver!
    9. 9. multiplicity of channels fragmented
    10. 10. unknown caller!
    11. 11. URL creates call
    12. 12. Talk Request
    13. 13. request presented
    14. 14.
    15. 15. shared records
    16. 16. Phweet URL - contract • manage call conditions • set up presentation rules / filters • attach identity • load context
    17. 17. CallerID is decentralized
    18. 18. persistent URL’s
    19. 19. DTMF - restrictive
    20. 20. automate presentation
    21. 21. “smart links talking” my callerID’s
    22. 22. names and relationships matter not about numbers anymore the pulse of telephony can be humanized @stuarthenshall @mrblog