VoIP Mashups in a Web 2.0 World

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A great deal has been written about the concept of “Web 2.0” – with much of it in search of a workable definition. The term has certainly become wildly popular, with more than 56 million citations in Google. But there is also much disagreement about what it means – while some dismiss it as a creation of marketing and PR hypesters, others embrace it as the new model for Web-based businesses and services.

According to Tim O’Reilly in his seminal piece “What Is Web 2.0: Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software,” he writes that the concept of “Web 2.0” “got its start during a brainstorming session between O'Reilly Media and MediaLive International a few years ago, when Web pioneer and O’Reilly VP Dale Dougherty noted that far from having "crashed", the Web was more important than ever, with exciting new applications and sites popping up with surprising regularity.”

Indeed, it’s clear that the rise of “Web 2.0” has created a dazzling array of new companies, business models and services. But it is also creating vast new opportunities for Web-based IP communications services, allowing service providers to leverage a toolkit of Web 2.0 technologies, including XML, SIP, RSS, REST, and AJAX, that allows them to integrate their communications services with other Web-based services so that they can interoperate in seamless and quite powerful ways.

So what is a “Web 2.0” application? While it means many things to many people, we can safely say that at the most basic level it involves the use of a variety of Web-based technologies to provide highly flexible, feature-rich, personalized services delivered to end users. To make it all happen, these applications rely on a high-degree of integration and interoperability among an “ecosystem” of Web sites that allow them to share applications and data. The term “mash-up” was conceived as a way to illustrate the way APIs and data are combined to create brand new applications and services (for example, mashing up Google Earth satellite maps with specialized databases to create maps of home values (homevalues.com), or crime rates in specific Chicago neighborhoods (chicagocrime.org).

In his definitive piece mentioned above, Tim O’Reilly envisions the “Web 2.0” concept being bounded by seven guiding principles that are demonstrated in part or in total by true Web 2.0 applications. These include “The Web as Platform”, the “Harnessing of Collective Intelligence”, “Data is the Next Intel Inside”, “End of the Software Release Cycle”, “Lightweight Programming Models”, “Software Above the Level of a Single Device”, and “Rich User Experiences.” It is no accident that many of the breakthrough Web-based IP communications services in operation today garner check marks for many of these principles.

VoIP 2.0, a term championed by TMC, hints at the convergence of Web 2.0-based technologies and real-time IP communications services. It makes perfect sense, since in a pure IP environment like the Web, IP Voice and video are treated like just another network application. Therefore, the possibilities for innovative Web 2.0/VoIP/IP video mash-ups are endless.

Recently, there have been a number of early-stage VoIP mash-ups. tglo, the VoIP division of theglobe.com, announced a few months ago the availability of its tglophone for users of Monster.com. Job seekers at Monster.com will easily be able to enable their resumes and accounts with "click to call" capabilities. Recruiters can review resumes and immediately connect with job seekers for free around the world. In another tglo “mash-up, Craigslist.com "phone icons" will appear next to product listings allowing for a click-to-call connections between buyers and sellers. The eBay/Skype combination aims for the same synergies.

In the longer term, look for voice and video to be further integrated into our online existence – click-to-talk buttons that are part of the standard feature set of all software applications, Second-Life avatars that speak, rather than text chat, to each other; the spread of podcast-infused reviews of products and services…The list can go on and on.

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