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(part 1 of a 2-part series)I was having dinner this weekend with a friend of mine who is an entrepreneur and true science fiction aficionado. A few cups into the evening, we moved into a discussion of how much of the technology envisaged into the Star Trek television series as well as the Star Wars movies has come to fruition. Not one to argue with someone holding a light saber — even if is a $40 toy -I gave him his due: most of the communications technologies used on the original television series has shown up in some form in commercialized offerings. Or as Rod Serling, creator of the Twilight Zone noted:”Science fiction is the improbable made possible”: -- The”communicator” from the original show gave life to the original Motorola StarTac -- -- Lieutenant Uhura’s wireless headset showed up as the now ubiquitous Bluetooth headset, best evidenced by the Jawbone -- The teleportation and video technologies shown in most science fiction are melded into the newest Telepresence offerings from Cisco and video products from other players. In fact, Sci-Fi fans, the recent introduction of On-Stage Telepresence, adding a 3D image next to our CEO during a recent keynote in India, showed the entire world that George Lucas was probably onto to something 30 years ago when he took us into a movie far, far away.We are in the beginning phases of a communications revolution where two key trends are occurring:- Every application is going to talk to every application because everyone wants to talk with everyone. -- Rich media is going to become HDTV where email is going to look like ASCii In my next blog entry, I am going to tackle how business-class Unified Communications technologies support the unification of all communications technologies, across applications and corporate boundaries. This week, however, I want to touch on how rich media changes how we communicate and we work.Rich media -whether it is business video, context-aware applications, a downloadable podcast/webcast, or interactive widgets in a webpage -implies some form of dynamism, something that is more”alive” than text. While communications technology has changed how we work, it has not necessarily made work a more enjoyable or more human experience. The loneliness of trying to wade through a thousand emails after a week of vacation is neither particularly productive nor morale enhancing. Text forms of communications are a great way to share data and facts; they are lousy ways to share nuance and intent. As we have seen, instant messenger applications have rapidly surpassed email as the faster and easiest way to get information or stay in contact with a friend or co-worker. What was the first new invention in that universe? The emoticon! : )Thus Web 2.0 is igniting a revolution in the way we communicate, integrating rich media and contextual information flows at every turn. The best way to insert into a dialogue or work session, even if you are entering in the middle of a project that is already underway, is to understand the context of who is working on said project: their dialogue, their attachment to various perspectives -not just the data they are working from. If you want to know someone is serious about something, seeing the look on their face or the tone of their voice is worth a thousand words.Of course, the companies and communities that will benefit from rich media will depend. In the words of the late Douglas Adams;”Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.”Coming Next: The Privacy and Legal Imperative in Unified Communications: How Enforcing Policy Changes Everything

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