Just a few weeks ago we successfully wrapped up the fourth, and as it turns out final, AdhearsionConf. The beginning of AdhearsionConf coincided with my joining the Adhearsion project. We wanted a place where Adhearsion developers could gather and talk about the apps they were building. Over the years we’ve seen some pretty impressive things built with Adhearsion, from a 6-story-tall social art project, to a war-dialer probing foreign countries, a gorgeous web-based call-center built by Batman himself, and even speech enabled web pages and virtual assistants. The first AdhearsionConf focused mostly on the framework itself and on Asterisk – it was a conference by and for Adhearsion developers.
But over the last four years, the scope and quality of the presentations has grown, and the focus has zoomed to a higher level. In the last two years we’ve begun to see talks that focus on the problems Adhearsion is being used to solve rather than the technical details of the solution. The talks covered such topics as WebRTC, security, privacy, load testing, scaling applications, and innovating at web-speed. The ones in my mind that stand out here were the recent talks by Tim Wenhold and Evan McGee. Both of these talks focused on how Adhearsion was being used to improve business processes or solve problems. If there was a theme to AdhearsionConf 2013, in my mind, that would be it. I felt so strongly about it that I even based my Keynote on it.
Which brings us to the next thought: The future of communications is all about embedded communications. Or, to say it another way, Communications-as-a-Feature.
Several times this year I’ve referenced a quote from my friend Geoff Hollingworth, who leads the AT&T/Ericsson Foundry in Palo Alto:
“Communicating isn’t going to be what you’re doing – it’s what you’ll be doing while you’re doing something else”
— Geoff Hollingworth
When you think about the tooling that has evolved, this shouldn’t be too surprising. Originally phones tied us (literally) to physical locations. Then we cut the cord and went wireless, and phone calling could be done wherever and whenever it was needed. Think about how many people wait to return calls until they are on the long commute home, or carry the phone into some work function so they can communicate while solving a problem. But as much as the call is portable, it’s still not truly embedded – it’s a separate function that we happen to be using at the same time we use other tools.
WebRTC has the power to change the way we communicate. It offers us new, more powerful ways to connect. Tools like Adhearsion provide the connectivity to do it.
This kind of change in thinking about communications, and the apps needed to empower them, deserves its own conference. And that’s what we’ve set out to do. RatchetConf exists to explore what happens when you bridge the nearly infinite web with the immediacy of real-time communications.
This is far more than telephones in web browsers.