Thursday, December 06, 2007 interesting yet frustrating discussion

So I got to drop in on the afternoon sessions of the held in New York yesterday.

Was both interesting and frustrating at the same time.

First the highlights......happy birthday Asterisk.

Kevin Fleming from Digium gave a session yesterday about Asterisk that I didn't really learn anything new however I did find out one useless piece of information that asterisk is 8 years old as of purely by co-incidence yesterday December 5th.

On December 5th 1999 Mark Spencer released version 0.1.0 ..... and an industry was born :)

Personally I've been an Asterisk user for the last 4+ years (thanks Duane) and have been super excited by it's growth. For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about feel free to check out which has a 60 second overview of Asterisk.

Also check out and and of course

Another interesting factoid yesterday, as close as anyone can 'guestimate' there are anywhere from 250,000 to 750,000 asterisk pabx's running globally today. Pick a number somewhere between these two but either way feel comfortable this technology is not going away anytime soon.

However was also interesting to talk to people, particularly end users at the event who didn't really know all that much about Asterisk as well. I think maybe it's time for Digium to step up their general PR - not for the geeks but for the 'average joe'.

Anyway now to the frustrating parts;

Firstly the people - so lots of people i spoke to yesterday said..."we are building the tools for developers to roll out carrier based telephony applications"
....and I say 'great - what kind of applications are you building'
....and they say "all kinds of calling card applications, conference room and ivr functionality"
....and I say 'zzzzz'

Yep exactly.

So many people I spoke to yesterday have no idea about integrating real time online accessible data and implementing voice driven apps making this data accessible in a voice driven format.

I mentioned to about 4 people who said that they were delivering hosted 'voice applications' my concept of an ASP delivered speech recognition service that i was trying to get TellMe to joint venture over 2 years ago (more details here ) and all said what a great idea and I you want to implement this....Well that's really not what we do....zzzzz

There was also a frustrating final session (though a few gems as well, I wish it was videotaped) although most of the ideas were average (Verizon open platform announcement being a big deal and Google scaring the whole world) but there were also some gems (leveraged buyout of CLECS based on their weight in copper as a derivative to fund fibre roll out and separation of wholesale network access from retail services being the best).

I'd like to provide more details but unless you were there it would take 30 minutes of explanation etc, like I said wish it was videotaped than I'd mash it up with a secondary audio track of my running commentary with my personal thoughts.

Guess what I'm trying to say is..."next time you are looking at your desk phone or mobile phone and wistfully wishing it would do more than 'just sit there' or you are looking at cool web applications and thinking why aren't my phone services more like this".....these are the people that are driving this lack of innovation.

Either way thanks to Stealth Communications for the invite, without discussion things cant/wont change but on the other hand....I for one was left wishing they would change faster.

P.S. Another interesting 'internal thought'/paradigm shift from yesterdays event, I've obviously been attending too many 'un-conferences' lately, it felt bizarre and stifling (and un-intelligent) to be sitting in an audience of a presentation where only the speaker was talking.
I felt like it was mind numbing and a waste of time and a misuse of energy not to be getting audience involvement and a two way dialog going between all participants.
Maybe I'm wrong but my takeaway from this paradigm shift yesterday is that I'm never going to 'present an event' where I do more than 50% of the talking.....anyone reading this please hold me to it.


  1. Dean, you forgot to mention that you were instrumental in helping to start the live interactive VOIP Users Conference (formerly Asterisk Users Conference) which happens every Friday at 12 Noon EST.

    Happy Birthday, Asterisk and thanks, Dean!