Your Life on Live Internet Protocol: Text is Out, Video is In

Technical advances in the scientific field serve a dire need first and then those totems of communication and facilitation trickle down to the mainstream.  The Deaf popularized pagers first, followed by the Hearing community in everyday business, then there was the move to SMS in cellphones and today, the new trend is video conferencing in your iPhone or iPad.  The image below shows the first TTY — teletypewriter — that the Deaf used to communicate with each other in end-to-end conversations.

“End-to-end” means each person had to have one of those massive machines in their homes in order to have what they were typing translated into text.  The Associated Press and United Press International used similar devices to deliver “text news” to radio and television stations across the nation.

Those big teletext machines shrank over time to become the size of a phone book and the TTY machine was found in every Deaf household as the standard communication device for over 30 years.

With the rise of the free Federal videophone service over the last seven years, the Deaf community were finally able to start daily live video communication with each other long before there was a FaceTime App or iOS devices.

Now that the videophone has matured, the TTY is out, and FaceTime is on the rise — and what modern Deaf person wouldn’t want to take their “videophone” with them everywhere they went?  Who wants to be tethered to a clunky Sorenson videophone camera and ethernet cable at home when you can communicate with your friends while walking down the street?

If you wanted to buy a TTY today, you would have a hard time — not necessarily finding one, but rather finding someone else who had one so you could communicate end-to-end.  The TTY is dead.  SMS is dead.  Email is dead.  Live video is in — but is that really what we want just because it is becoming ubiquitous?

Live video is a return to the nag of the traditional telephone call — sure, you can delay the call or force the caller to leave a message — but it sort of takes a lot of effort to return a live video call, it’s usually easier, and simpler, to just answer the call, but then you’re no longer in control of your schedule.  Those who video call you once again take the upper hand in touched communication.

Video calls also raise the somewhat sticky notion of personal presentation.  Just like people used to ride airplanes in suits and ties, and people now wear pajamas to fly cross-country, so too, has video calling changed from combed hair and a proper appearance presentation to people appearing unkempt and disheveled when they call.  Sometimes, a voice call and a TTY call are preferable if you don’t want to see the filthy way some of your friends and associates live in their homes.

Video calls will start to replace the standard telephone call for everyone in a few years, and we will all start to follow the Deaf and the transition into “Live IP Living” where we will always be “on” the internet and we will have to always be available and, we hope, at least near a mirror so we can do a quick pick-me-up before we turn our faces to an ever-infringing, recorded, world.