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June 2007
Volume 10 / Number 6
The Zippy Files
Richard "Zippy" Grigonis

Hyper Communications

By Richard “Zippy” Grigonis, The Zippy Files

For the past couple of months, Yours Truly has noticed more and more the receipt of both replies to my emails and queries from various corporate folks, regardless of the time of day or day of the week - including weekends. Business-related text messages and even phone calls have penetrated the formerly sacrosanct social sanctuaries of "After Hours" and "The Weekend." Those feature-packed and oh-so-convenient-to-use companion devices such as the RIM Blackberry and Palm Treo have helped to bring about this enviable situation (or unenviable one, depending on how you look at it), but the real cause of all of this goes back to what the telecom industry has been trying to achieve since the early 1990s — the ability for anyone to reach anybody, anywhere at any time.

There had been inklings that such a thing was possible — call forwarding, find me/follow me, simultaneous ring, "the whole company as a call center," and other minor intimations of what was to come. It finally has taken such efforts as the ongoing massive infrastructure swap of IMS (IP Multimedia-based Subsystem) and the highly advanced developments of FMC (Fixed-Mobile Convergence) to seal the deal, but be rest assured that every corporate manager's dream is about to come true — the 40-hour a week "barrier" is about to give way to the glorious new world of 24/7 employment and boundless productivity!

To both acknowledge and celebrate the dawning of this new epoch, TMC, with its usual canny timing, is even starting up a magazine devoted to this new way of doing business (not to mention lifestyle) called Unified Communications, edited by Yours Truly. Yes, gentle readers, I am a member of that elite clique of dastardly fiends who have ceaselessly toiled for years in helping to bring about this amazing transformation in your otherwise bleak desert of "off-hours" time!

I, of course, cannot take full credit for this change in what you do during your waking hours. Other names came before me — Marc Ostrofsky, the immortal Harry Newton (who inducted me into the brotherhood in 1994), Jeff Pulver and now Nadji and Rich Tehrani, who are taking us forward into the glorious future of total, hypercommunications, built upon the same inexpensive broadband/IP technology that has enabled civilization to "eliminate the middleman" (travel agents, book distributors, realtors and, if I'm not careful, magazine editors) and has made it possible for the more free trade-oriented among us to outsource information-based jobs to India — and for Indians to outsource their jobs to China — and for the Chinese to outsource their jobs to Mongolia, ad infinitum or better yet, ad absurdum. Hyper communications has made possible hyper business and, for that matter, hyper everything else.

Funny thing is, as I stood there in a Wal-Mart on the Saturday before Mother's Day — having just walked away from some emails from various companies and public relations firms entreating me to do some perfunctory activity, only to be cornered by a friendly unscheduled cell phone call from a customer service representative — I felt that the inevitable had finally happened: I am no longer in my ivory tower. I am an end user. The theoretical has become practical, and I am something of a victim of my own success.

Over the next five years, Western civilization will judge whether it will continue to embrace hyper communications, or whether some sort of neo-Luddite uprising will bring back the 'scourge' of idle moments and leisure time.


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