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eComm conference: The conversation is entering the mobile realm

I caught a few of the later sessions today at the Emerging Communications (eComm) conference in Mountain View, and the program was pretty good.

I caught a few of the later sessions today at the Emerging Communications (eComm) conference in Mountain View, and the program was pretty good. The rigorously enforced commitment to micro-formats--a mix of five-minute lightning talks, 15-minute sessions, and 20-minute keynotes--worked out well: The presenters were forced to condense their thoughts to the core, and a wide range of viewpoints could be heard during the course of the day. Even the five-minute shorts were informative and sparked follow-up conversations.

For Luca Filigheddu from abbeynet, the five-minute limit was a natural fit for his topic, "Micro Video-Blogging and the Future of Online Conversation." He managed to squeeze a lot of numbers into his blitz pitch: 75,000,000 videos on YouTube; 100,000,000 existing blogs; 500,000 users on Twitter (he wasn't sure if that's accurate; I'm not either). Referring to 160 characters as the border between blogging and micro-blogging, he argued that 60 seconds might be the new border between micro video-blogging and video-blogging and that "every company ought to have a micro video-blogging strategy."

Filigheddu's presentation was part of larger theme: the socialization of mobile communications or the emergence of the conversation in and beyond telephony. In this vein, Sam Aparicio from, in his talk on "Fixing Group Communication," presented some inspiring riffs on the "social phone." My first thought was to discount the notion of a social phone as a contradictio in adjecto, as they used to say in Rome, because phones are inherently subscribed to an individual identity with highly customizable preferences and self-expression needs. But that's exactly where Aparicio was headed: future modes of communication will reconcile personalization and socialization and turn the phone into a group communications tool for both individual and collective use. While today's communication tools are centered on one specific mode of communication and enable a single communication protocol to occur, the future--so Aparicio--belongs to communication devices that support conversations. And by pinpointing the attributes of conversations, he illustrated how far away we still are from such tools: Conversations go on for a long time; they may start anytime, anywhere, with anyone; and other people may choose to join them.

The most interesting point he made, though, was that conversations can start in one medium and continue in another. Imagine a conversation via IM that continues in e-mail (Gmail allows for that already), or a Wiki entry that continues on Twitter and then on the mobile phone before it ends on Facebook. This transgressive, transmedia type of communication that supports all kinds of communication artifacts poses a huge challenge to the industry and requires the solution of the "identity issue"--the portability of a single-user ID across different platforms and media. David Recordon from Six Apart provided a good overview of the current attempts to establish community standards in this regard. From OpenID to hCard parsing to Mobile OAuth to DiSo (distributed social networks), and OpenSocial--the conversation will be televised, telephoned, teleconferenced, and it will just have one name.