Two years ago, I wrote about the lack of imagination in the VoIP industry. My main point was that a focus on using SIP to reduce the cost of traditional phone calls would not unleash the type of applications and businesses that SIP as a technology can enable. Since then we have seen some interesting things happen, but less than I expected. For example Ribbit (a web-based service/APIs for telephony integration with applications) being bought by BT and Tropo, that offers super-simple application hosting where calls and text messages go directly into your application and you can do whatever you want.
However, my hopes for SIP as a way to connect Web 2.0 applications with real-time communication and thus unleash innovative applications have not really panned out. Most of the innovation has gone into social networks where very non-real time protocols are used for near-real time things (like Twitter feeds). I still feel that there is a huge potential in connecting the SIP world with the Web 2.0 world in a simpler way. But for sure, big SIP application servers with complicated standards for re-use of SIP applications across platforms, IMS architectures, and the industry’s focus on PSTN have not contributed to making SIP into the open platform it could be.
Jabber (XMPP) has been more successful in that respect, mostly because Google decided to use it (and develop Jingle) for Google Talk and then use it for Google Wave (Peter Saint Andre on XMPP in Wave). Being an XML based protocol with a fairly limited scope, there is less to understand before you develop something. However, SIP standards, drafts, and variations came as a result of people wanting to use it for their own purposes, and XMPP has the same challenge if it is to be used for lots of new stuff.
My belief has been that the social network protocols (OpenSocial, Facebook…), SIP, XMPP, and authentication protocols (OpenId, OAuth, etc) must be connected on top of a set of shared principles, much like http/html made the foundation (and still is) for the human web. SIP and XMPP clients should be able to invoke social network services directly over their native protocol. My thinking in this area has resulted in what I have called the Acting Web. The basic goal is to make machines able to communicate on the web the same way as humans: you expect to be able to pull up any web page on the Internet and see what is there. However, if the page is written in French and you don’t speak French, you cannot read it, but you know somebody who does will be able to read it.
The current status of ActingWeb is that I have written up a fairly complete specification. And I have started implementing it in python as a Google App. In the beginning, I felt that there was a rush to get this going, but I have now realized that all the activities with all sorts of protocols and competing APIs from the likes of Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Plaxo, Twitter and so on, only makesit easier to get ActingWeb going!