I’ve got one word for you: presence

Happy Festivus all. I’m sure you’ve got your metal pole nearby, and I was going to have an airing of grievances but that’s the sort of thing that can bite you in the ass a few years down the line.
So instead I’ll celebrate the complete lack of sunshine by attempting to predict the future. I should note that this is based more on hope than reality, but come along for the ride anyway. Let’s play the “You Will” game, also called the fantastic scenario.
You wake up and stumble over to the computer to check your email. You get an IM from a friend saying that they’re getting dinner tonight, more details later. You leave your computer as it is and get ready for work.
On the train on your way to work, you get another IM, from your friend saying that dinner at 9:00pm close to you; the IM comes as a text message on your phone.
When you get to work, you sign into your work computer. After working for a little while, your friend does a voice chat with you on your computer (AKA Skyping) to you to let you know that dinner is off. You wander away from your computer to get some coffee and your friend calls you on your cell phone to let you know dinner is definitely on and where it is.
So far, nothing too far fetched. Here’s the cool thing: your friend was able to IM you, text message you, voice chat with you and call you using one piece of contact information – your Jabber ID.
When you were at your home computer, your computer said that it was accepting IMs. When it lost a Bluetooth link with your phone, it decided to lower it’s priority for IMs, so they started going to your cell phone. When you were at your work computer, it took precedence for voice and IM. When you left, voice calls were routed to your phone.
So here’s my prediction for 2005 – the scenario above won’t happen. That’s pretty pessimistic, but the upshot is the building blocks for the scenario above will fall into place.
Apple will begin shipping OS X 10.4 in early 2005. Spotlight and Dashboard are getting all the attention, but there’s also an upgrade to iChat that’s so overlooked, it isn’t even listed on the iChat preview page. What’s changing is that iChat is shipping with Jabber support and OS X Server is shipping with a Jabber server built in.
Jabber is one of those really good ideas that haven’t taken off. Yet. I’ve written about it before, but not in depth. Jabber allows anyone to run their own IM server, and allows them to talk to other IM servers. Assuming this is one of those things that Apple does and everyone copies them on (see: USB, Firewire, Bluetooth…) Jabber could really take off in 2005. Pretty soon having an AIM or MSN IM account would be the social equivalent of having an @aol.com or @hotmail.com email address. Sure it’s fine for home use, but what would you think of a business that uses that address?
Jabber is built on XMPP – eXtensible Messaging and Presence Protocol. If Jabber hits its stride with Apple, a lot of hackers will start building a lot of cool things for it. I could easily see someone building a routing mechanism on top of XMPP that tells people which services go where. Then a Skype call could go to a computer, a WiFi phone, a cell phone or a landline based on the Jabber detection. Of course, the cooler stuff I described is probably a ways off (although one of the draft extensions might already support this, I haven’t RTFRFC). But at least we have the first step available to us.
(If you want to play with Jabber, my ID is george at hotelling*net, although I have yet to find an OS X Jabber client I like so I’m not always on)

3 thoughts on “I’ve got one word for you: presence

  1. Bluetooth-based presence detection is already done by Clicker and (to a lesser extent) BluePhoneMenu. There’s also some sort of opensource Clicker clone which apparently sucks but gets the job done (but I can’t remember its name offhand).

  2. http://psi.affinix.com – good (not only mac) jabber client
    I’ve found your blog entry with PubSub (http://pubsub.com). It’s rather new and promising technology witch in short time will by widely used in jabber.
    Did you know that you can use jabber to bloging? Just sending a messages to jogger (jabber powered weblog) create new entries and when someone make comment you can get IM message about it. You can see mine at http://arael.jogger.pl . It’s in polish but .. they are many english jogger in the web – you just have to google.
    Best regards,

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