Alex Blok gets positively giddy when a computerized voice over the speaker phone announces that the caller has reached "Qcommand" and then requests that the caller punch in his Q.
The system is so new that there's not even a date for a beta release. But to Blok, that voice means he's one step closer to a dream: creating a universal addressing system that eventually will work on the Net and the phone system--or just about anywhere someone might go to find someone else.
Right now a Q only works on the Net on Qcommand's home page and anyone else who carries a "Q Gate."
"My dream is in the 21st century to be able to punch into the phone my Q," Blok said. "It's going to be your personal gateway."
The idea is that people will have these identifiers, composed of one word and one number, that will stay with them for life. So if, for instance, Blok moved or went on vacation, or someone who he hadn't seen for ten years wanted to reach him, they could simply go to the Web site and plug in his Q and instantly get his updated information. Or, eventually, they could go to the phone system.
The gate includes a place to punch in a resume as well as vital information and a Web site. QCommand is continually adding new bells and whistles.
Blok, 34, said the idea grew out of personal need: As someone who moved a lot--sometimes across the world--he had a tough time keeping up with people. "I thought, wouldn't it be good to have a universal address?"
Right now, the company is funded privately, but he sees a potential market of 18 million by the year 2000. Q hopes to make money from advertising and subscriptions for enhanced service.
The concept, Blok said, was simple. "We're basically saying lets have a simple addressing system linked to an adaptive database."
Execution, however, is another story. For a Q to become truly universal, everyone has to use it, or at least know what it is.
That's where Blok's dreams come in.
"In an ideal world, every browser would have that built in," he said. "The Q works everywhere."