Searching for Hypercommunications

Hyperlinks made IP addresses, those gnarly strings of numbers, invisible. Could social networks do the same for phone numbers?

One of the things that's great about the Internet is that people have become so spoiled by the click syndrome. Hyperlinks and Google take people everywhere they want to go, helping them find blogs, podcasts, photos and video. They don't have to know anything beyond a search query to find the information they're looking for.

What if people could do that with communications. Could they take a page out of social networks to make this happen?

Currently, people all have numbers assigned to them, or at least to their devices. They can press a single button for speed dial, but the fact is they-or their device-still need to know a number.

Telecommunications software programmers have been working on this issue for years, but have yet to develop hypercommunications, or an ultra-easy way to help people communicate, said Daniel Berninger, CEO of, a VOIP (voice over IP) firm founded by telco luminary Jeff Pulver.

Berninger, who recently blogged about his frustration on GigaOm, said that when he lines up the Web world and the telco world side by side, he's struck by the similarities in operations.

"We still dial phone numbers, whereas on the Web side we gave up IP addresses 25 years ago by creating URLs on top of those," Berninger told eWEEK. "There are some tremendous advantages about the way the Web works, clicking through and how it weaves all of our information worlds together [in a way] that we don't have on the telecom side."

For example, he said that for as much as Google has done in organizing information on the Web, the company barely touches the telecommunications side. Despite this glaring omission, Berninger said people still use Google as a form of addressing functionality by typing in a few characters and clicking whatever pops up.

What about Google's GrandCentral Networks, which lends click-to-call functionality and lets people be connected anywhere through one phone number to reach peoples' voice mail, PC, land line or mobile phone? He said the service may be convenient, but peoples' identity is still the phone number.