My wife, sister and father-in law had a taste of voice over Internet Protocol this week (VoIP). This technology allows you to make calls over the Internet –and eventually view the person using a web camera.
After setting up Google Talk (for voice) and Yahoo! Messenger (for video–okay something’s wrong with my YM! that I cannot figure out, but that’s a different topic altogether), they marveled at the power of this innovation.
Apparently, I’ve set up a chat with their brother who is working as a nurse in Finland. For several hours, they talked, exchange photos (with my help), laughed and shared stories. Meanwhile, I manned the Internet connection, making sure everything’s going smoothly.
As I watched them, I could not stop thinking how we take for granted the technology that we have now. In fact, we often expect other people to understand what we’re doing. But surprisingly, they don’t. They’re too afraid to touch it, or even try it. My father-in-law was quite, er, overwhelmed with what was happening, as I guided him through the chat. Even my wife was complaining that I had to slow down, and teach them how to set up the chat. Hmmm.
As we move to 2007, I wonder what’s next. Right now, they call it web 2.0. Next few years, there will be version 3.0, and 4.0 and so on. But one thing remains. The need to always stay connected, physically or virtually, will never go away. The Internet has been designed to “network people.” Without us, the Internet is just made up of 1s and 0s, travelling at light speed through millions of networks.