Something in the Air

Sometime when we weren't looking in the past few days, we flipped on the new bit. Not sure how to quantify it, but there's something in the air (Thunderclap Newman for you kids out there just tuning in.
Written by Steve Gillmor, Contributor on

Sometime when we weren't looking in the past few days, we flipped on the new bit. Not sure how to quantify it, but there's something in the air (Thunderclap Newman for you kids out there just tuning in.) The evidence is overwhelming if subtle: Dave Winer and Jason Calacanis podcasting glances at each other, Adam Curry sounding like a Madman across the water on his Sirius runthrough, Steve B. and Scott M. getting ready to tango in Palo Alto later this morning.

The week started off with an incredible Kim Cameron tour of his Seven Identity Commandments at Digital ID World. Eric Norlin thought the audio would be tagged and released back into the wild within the next 30 days, but I noticed Doc Searls and me recording it on our Macs and Tablets over the air as it were. Kim is a trip and a half, a jolly Canadian with just enough sense to realize he needs to stay ahead of the curve enough to avoid the looming boot of Allchin a la Godzilla Meets Bambi.

No one has convinced me that anything meaningful can escape the Allchin grip, but the rise of Jonathan Schwartz, the hurtling momentum of Skype, and the engaged mind of Bill Gates augur for an acceleration that will make the Bubble a whisp of a harbinger of what is to come. Schwartz may be mired in one of Scoble's periodic painted corners, but like Robert he will inevitably discover the way out is to pursue what engages him. If Ballmer and McNealy are golf buddies, and Papadopoulos and Gates bitheads, then who does Schwartz pair with? My bet is he draws power from both sides of the Sun/MS deal, meshing Sun's carrier clout with Microsoft's media clout to drive IBM nuts in the middle.

Many of my analyst and commentator colleagues warn me not to underestimate IBM, but something tells me that Big Blue is getting set up for a big squeeze. Let's do a little imagineering: suppose Skype builds out their IM platform to support (or interoperate with) an RSS events grid that doubles as a virtualized communications network. To use Doc Searl's (and some guy he met on a plane's) construct, we move from conversation to relationship. Example: today I had a Skype "call" where I picked David Berlind's brain about the latest "best way to record segments of my Daily show. While we talked, David sampled various podcasts--a kind of point-to-point Daily Source Code where the voices of Bob Frankston, Sam Whitmore's Closet Deadhead, an absurd and abortive product demo by two clueless vendors and a dismayed PR rep who failed to head off the outing of the whole thing on Berlind's Transparency site, the Endgadget Bill Gates cast, and on and on.

My daughter Naomi, home with the "flu" from school for the week, floated in and out of the conversation asking how to spell various words--Berlind answered before I had a chance and I found myself relaying the spelling without interrupting my experiments with Audio Hijack Pro, the beta CastBlaster software, the Tablet Gmail UI, sending OneNote audio and notes captures of the Kim Cameron talk from one Tablet to a replacement model, and so on. The fabric of this "call" ceased to feel like a conversation and became more like a digital commune, with various members wondering in and out of frame to sip or add or sculpt or just kibbitz.

You can hear something new in Gates' voice as he talks with Peter Rojas--he's having a good time! What a joke, the world's richest man having fun. When that happens you know the revolution's here.


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