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FREE in France Gears Up for Disruption

I Remember When There Were More of Us

The other day I called up Marcelo Rodriguez, long a fixture on the VoIP scene, and again the owner of Voxilla. My reason for calling him was two fold. One on behalf of a client, but really to encourage him to resume more regular blogging. As a former newspaper editor in his previous life Marcelo has the chops and know how to have a blog that's run more like a media property than most.

The reality is we need more bloggers covering VoIP, Telecom, Video Conferencing, Collaboration.

Long gone are the days when every morning I would wake up to see what Jeff, Om, Alec, Erik, "The Mad VoIper" Jim, Phil, Jon, David, Irwin, Ken, Rich, Tom, Robert, Dameon, Martin, Michael, Ted, Aswath, Thomas and many others would be sharing thoughts, saying what was on their mind, putting forth opinion, backed by real experience and insight. It was blogging with a purpose.

But now only in the 8 years since I decided to cover VoIP, Video and Collaboration I have seen many of them move on, and those that do remain have reduced their perspectives on VoIP, Video and Collaboration.

When we all started blogging (and I was later to the game than Jeff, Om, Alec and others) there was competition with and inside the trade media space between Internet Telephony, Von Magazine, a series of Virgo publishing titles and Telephony Magazine there was real coverage of news, developments and trends. Sure it's easy to tweet, post a link to a group in Linked In, but what's missing is the deep coverage that is only today coming from some of the remaining analysts out there or the more verbally talented company executives who use a blog, personal or corporate to share some views. But they tend to write more with their company's purpose in mind, and that's okay-at least they're writing and bringing to light what the lack of media is causing to be hidden.

For the most part what was once called the trade press in voice, video and collaboration is gone too, with the most recent casualty being "Connected Planet." While it's easy to find announcement journalism on the web, the reason I called Marcelo up was to bring back some of what I call IPO-Insight, Perspective and Opinion, because today, not only in VoIP we're left with news found on a bunch of sites in the trade where the writers are largely consultants, writing pieces to support their business, using the blog or news site as a podium to promote events, conferences, webinars and the sales of consulting services.

Nothing wrong with that, as this blog was started with four primary missions that hold true today:

1. To be a voice to the media about VoIP-mission accomplished

2. To be able to speak at conferences as a thought leader-mission accomplished

3. To make new friends-mission accomplished

4. To grow my agency-mission accomplished

I have never been covert about those goals, nor have I overtly used this blog as a platform to overly promote my clients. Sure I mention them when appropriate and regularly use the word client when I mention them to be transparent, not accepted advertisng, turned down guest posts-except once from Michael Robertson, stayed out of flame wars, and never picked battles with comrades in arms to get page views. I have had clients wonder why I wasn't writing more about them-thinking that by signing on with my agency, Comunicano, and almost always given the rest of the media and blogger world first crack at what's new or what they had to say. But now, it's getting tougher and tougher to do that, simply because of the lack of others out there.

So today I say--come back to us those with those Insights, Perspectives and Opinions. I say come forward to those who want to report on the news. Rise up and get out of the shadows if you want to write reviews. There's a lot going on and the space is wide open.

Why do I make this challenge? Because without a responsible press in the world  honesty, transparency and reality are all able to be called into question. A responsible media covers the news, based on the facts and does their homework. An irresponsible media reports only on what they want to, fails their audience by not doing enough homework. While the economy and advertising sales failuers are impacting everyone, the need for a responsible media at all levels is there. Otherwise without that, our news will be even more "corporate" news, and less reporting.

So for those who want to resume. Come back. For those who don't. Thank for the memories. I'm back blogging. Looking for news. Telling the stories. Looking to speak at conferences and ready to grow again. 

Media apathy is for the weak and the tired. Not the bold and the brave. So I throw down the gauntlet, and ask my once brothers in arms to resume their writing, share their thoughts and bring back the kind of insight about all things communications that was once there. . 

P.S. Happy New Year!


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Thanks for a lighting a fire with your call the other day, and in this post.

You are right that thoughtful writing about VoIP and what Jeff Pulver used to call "disruptive communications" seems to have withered away. It's as if the debate a couple of years ago whether VoIP is dead was settled in the affirmative, at least by the industry's chroniclers.

Fortunately, the engineers and technical leaders never gave up on IP communications and the technology continues to flourish. In fact, there's been a great deal of innovation in the past year or so. Some writers and bloggers, having moved on to shinier objects like smart phones and tablets, may not have noticed it.

I'll accept your invitation and your challenge to resume writing and, hopefully, Voxilla will provide some of the useful journalistic insight modern communications has sadly lost.

Marcelo Rodriguez


Thanks for the trip down memory lane Andy. I'm inclined to recall "it was the best of times; it was the worst of times" in some ways. I loved writing the books, for the magazines you mentioned, 10+ years of blogging, the conferences and the times we had.

For me, it's a past we can't go home to again. The 3 major blogs I wrote for years have all been erased, the posts consigned to an archive on a hard drive. The magazines are extinct. The conferences mutated, but I wouldn't go today. In truth, I spent an awful lot of personal funds to attend for the camaraderie. There was never a dime of revenue return in any of them.

I found a point where family and personal life took precedence over all that. And moving into a role in my career that set me advising C-level execs in Fortune 100 companies and major government agencies shifted the focus of where and how my voice is heard. That's just me, and I know we all have our stories for why our direction changed.

VoIP became plumbing. Sure, I recently helped craft a 100K user VoIP, video collaboration solution that spans the globe. In the real world of major enterprises and governments, the face of these technologies is nothing like we envisioned. The software and tools we loved, in most cases simply don't fit and can't deliver the scale, security, management controls and tools that those businesses require. I'm involved every day in VoIP, video, wireless, mobility, IPv6 and information security. Just not in the way I used to me.

In many ways its very satisfying because I impact more people and businesses directly. I always felt like writing the way I did positioned me as a pundit, and in some ways damaged my credibility as a technology strategist. It didn't at all, but the voices most listened to have always created an echo chamber and never really understood the reality of business in the enterprise. They think they do, but they don't based on working directly with those enterprises. So I guess in some ways I feel vindicated for being the voice I was during those times.

Sheryl and I still maintain a web site (, but a quick look will make obvious how little importance blogging has held in our lives. I write more than ever, but for a different audience, with real focus.

I left Twitter and Facebook a year ago. I've recently returned to Twitter, but don't use it in the same way I used to. I dabble at Google+, but dislike it. I love Path because of the true personal nature. I recently went back to Posterous as a blogging sort of tool, but it's mostly a scrapbook of ideas and the like, or things I read that made me think about something. If I find myself compelled to rant, it's either in a boardroom or may show up there.

Social media became an echo chamber of noise, all media and little social. The personal social nature of it got drowned about by re-tweeting of retweets ad nauseum. In signal to noise ratio, noise one.

You remind me of a time when signal was high and noise was low. That's isn't the case in the new world of social media. Signal exists, but it's often like listening for a whisper at a basketball game. You have to pay attention to find it. Many people are simply focusing attention where that signal is. I know I am.

And yes, I'm an old fart too. My career moves put me in an elder statesman role of trusted advisor and consultant on the architecture of the future. Not the 2012 future, but the "10 years out future" of tomorrow and the architecture it will require to support the enterprise of that era.

Ok, my comment is becoming a rant, and on New Year's day, it's a great day to spend with family and appreciate the wonder of the world we live in rather than add noise to the echo.

Cheers my friend!

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