Social Telecom 2030

by Jay Cuthrell
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The screenshot above is from a trip to Tokyo back in 2012 during my global road warrior days at VCE. I had never experienced this kind of raw network performance back in the USA. This was true 3G performance that seemed almost magical and too good to be true.

Fast forward to 2020. Now it’s 5G making headlines and 6G futures are coming eventually if you subscribe to futurecasting from companies with an established history in telecommunications.

The inspiration for this social telecom 2030 post is derived from my last 10 years with Dell Technologies, a couple of Twitter status updates, interaction with the 2030 Cloud community, and a series of sessions while thinking remotely. The challenge I’ve accepted is to think forward another 10 years by considering my 2010 era social telecom blog post for today and looking ahead to 2030.

What was social telecom in 2010?

Roughly a decade ago, I authored a blog post about what I referred to as Social Telecom. In a nutshell, much of my world view and career had been shaped by telecommunications and I was reflecting on what I saw happening telco related conferences as well as at SxSW Interactive, Film, and Music conferences.

For example, when I created my first Twitter account in 2007 it was clear to be that mashing up SMS and Web was going to be interesting. Today, one can look back fondly to when SMS short code 40404 was fun (and sometimes unintentionally hilarious when folks sent things to it in error) when trying to communicate in manner more reliable than 3G connectivity at the time.

Indeed, being part of Startup Weekend 3 Atlanta in 2009 with Justin and Clay was fun. Looking back, Twilio was a sponsor for multiple Startup Weekend events that year to promote Twilio API use.

Good times. Great community.

Back then, the web on mobile devices was slow by modern comparisons but it was, well, mobile. There were apps being created that revolved around the rapid growth of social media companies.

Looking back, it’s not shocking to see that I applied a lens of what was being developed in and around the consumer grade Internet experience from laptops to the latest generation of mobile devices. My perspectives were from a service provider point of view.

The key social telecom concepts in 2010:

  • Decision systems
  • Telemetry systems
  • Trends analysis systems
  • Out of Band feedback loops
  • Symmetric connectivity
  • Virtual networking
  • Race to zero pricing
  • Shifting value requirements
  • SLA transparency

Did I get everything I predicted right? Hardly. But, there were a few predictions that were inevitable.

What is social telecom today in 2020?

Well, for one thing, the original @ComcastCares Twitter use case of days gone by is almost universally accessible for major brands now. Engagement is now table stakes. Slipping into the DM of a major brand on Twitter is even encouraged when there are service issues requiring a back channel alternative to calling a toll free support number.

Out of Band feedback loops

Today, solutions from SaaS vendors that fuse CRM, social platform conduits, sentiment analysis, and more are featured prominently as brands seek out every possible channel to engage more deeply with customers, subscribers, and users of products and services.

For example, it’s not uncommon for a global brand like Delta Airlines to connect Twitter direct messages (DM) into a deeper pull against the internal customer support systems of record and systems of engagement that make their business possible to operate outside of traditional call centers, email, and even web chat channels with the customer.

Of course, Delta isn’t in the telecom business but social telecom had clear influence far outside the realm of telecom itself. In fact, Delta phased out their @DeltaAssist acount on Twitter to simply be @Delta in early 2016.

“Delta DM request in 2020”


SLA Transparency

Services such as Downdetector that launched in 2012 with a few dozen performance graphs now provide SLA transparency for over 1000 services from broadband providers to essential SaaS companies.

“Comcast on


Race to Zero Pricing

Successful companies that embody the social telecom concepts have SREs, design for fail, design for flail, and are oriented towards isolation of the signals that feed into learning systems that fortify services, lower operational costs, and generally improve year over year.

Attention to lowering operational costs leads to changes the assumptions of customer acquisition costs as well. Just as long distance for telephone calls commanded a premium, the next race to zero pricing will happen in richer mediums such as video conferencing.

  • Consider that WebEx was acquired by Cisco in 2007 as part of a Web 2.0 land grab for “as a service” recurring revenues with Enterprise level pricing.
  • For many years WebEx and competitors such as GoToMeeting offered free limited time trials but were overwhelmingly focused on securing enterprise level pricing.
  • Zoom entered the market and changed the funnel design for onboarding, ease of use, and ultimately the perception of value for video conferencing services.
  • The ad-hoc video conferencing space continued to consolidate as BlueJeans was acquired in 2020 by Verizon.

Ultimately, by late 2020, consolidation of smaller companies and increased competition from Zoom has permanently altered expectations on perception of value.


  • Cisco WebEx intake in 2013 (before Zoom impacted the market)
  • Cisco WebEx intake in 2020
  • Zoom intake in 2020

“Zoom intake 2020”




What’s also interesting to consider in 2020 is the other video conference options that exist besides Zoom. As I mentioned earlier, sessions have been a big part of my schedule for several months and I’ve noticed their use of non-Zoom approaches that leverage WebRTC.

Each of these alternatives to Zoom have the ease of simply using a modern web browser, clicking a link, and approving permissions for microphone and video camera access. With these alternatives to Zoom there are associated specific costs and feature lists but the main point is that this is not a winner take all market by any measure.

What is social telecom going to be in 2030?

This question is best answered by starting with another question.

Luckily, the 2030 Cloud community asked the following:

In 2030, who will own the cloud?

My answer was similar to an answer I’ve provided before but I was far too optimistic in 2010. It goes like this…

Cloud will be an algal bloom of diversified service providers aligned to balkanized geopolitical boundaries terrestrially and a growing number of solar system federated systems of placement.

My reasoning is that today’s economics and not necessarily tomorrow’s economics:

  • 6G is incubating in the minds of marketplace leaders as their 5G rollouts and storytelling ramps towards assumed ubiquity.
  • Friends and family plans will take on new meaning that are more social constructs than they are cleverly marketed billing construct today.
  • There will be a precipitous drop in memory costs and the future of egregious egress fees for cloud hosting providers is going to shift from awkward to completely unjustifiable.
  • Cloud egress fees are the 2020s version of long distance charges from the 1990s.
  • Pressure on purely asymmetrical performing facilities based broadband providers will continue but only in the most competitive US markets. This pressure (combined with increased remote work use cases) will extend to CGNAT and likely push most US markets into IPv6 by 2030.
  • Startups will iterate consumer accessible capabilities by combining intuitive UX/UI and “neural engine” filters with affordable devices to approximate the Cisco TelePresence wow factor circa 2011.

Space, the eventual (but not final) frontier

Okay, but what about the ET — yes extraterrestrial — riff?

During the rise of facilities based broadband deployment, “edging out” strategy workshops for protected rural ILECs within the US was commonplace. The fear was MSOs would add door hangers to foment turnover so turnabout was fair play. ET is going to be the new high ground competitor.

My $0.02 x 6: SpaceX Starlink (beta pricing) is…

  1. Reasonable
  2. Comparable to ViaSat Internet tiers
  3. Going to force HughesNet to reach its nadir / pivot
  4. Challenging terrestrial facilities based broadband
  5. Going to compete with Kuiper (perhaps Loon)
  6. Not yet a OneWeb metaphor

Essentially, in the next decade social telecom 2030 would mean that terrestrial facilities based broadband providers will be a part of the landscape not the entirety of the landscape. The optionality of skies for connectivity will open new white spaces and adjacencies for applications in places around the planet (or above the planet) where remote sensing, telemetry, and economics were unthinkable just a few years ago.

For anyone that has had to explore disaster recover and business continuity in their careers, operating another site could take on new meaning. Perhaps a lunar or martian placements for these sites will become more common as SpaceX, BlueOrigin, and countries form joint ventures to consider human expansion.

Celebrity Personas as a Service

This topic might seem like quite a whipsaw from discussion of broadband. Please, indulge me and I’ll connect the dots.

Meanwhile, there are shifting value requirements. By 2030, you might not have to win an episode of Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me to have Carl Kasell record your voicemail greeting.

While 2020 deep fakes are still overcoming the uncanny valley, by 2030 it is reasonable to assume that avatars will become generated that are increasingly aligned to consumer demands. Granted, I covered this in a prior blog post when considering convergence and how science fiction influences the present day of product design.

Specifically, an entire generation of consumers will move from the progression or Reddit AMA (ask me anything) to Cameo PMA AMTSA (pay me anything, ask me to say anything). The progression has limits in 2020 in that there are only so many hours in a day and only so much money to go around for a few seconds of recording by a celebrity.

By 2030, the scarcity of time will be drawn away entirely. Consumer demand will push technology for services like Cameo far further towards automation and assisted generation if not completely generalized creation. So, it will be fascinating as the deep fakes technology is connected with likeness brand licensing for authorized automated markets for applied celebrity pantomime and dialog.

Eventually, this will lead to a literal reading of the Gartner-esque Digital Twin as a compounding for digital avatars that can best represent the user by way of applying deeply personalized affectations, dialog synthesis, fully authorized response augmentation, and a taste graph of bling informed by years of purchasing consumer data. So while the social telecom 2030 adoption by generational norms is clearly a question that will be proven over time, there is a clear path to enable the technology for those that wish to apply it.

It will be increasingly common for users to expect a reality based on the plot devices within Ready Player Two. Social telecom 2030 will be the connective means for convergence and coalescence of the data and applications to realize the jump from an uncanny valley to a fully immersive experience.

Speaking of connectivity, a quick note in a still pandemic 2020 is that Comcast data caps are still a thing. However, the real question to be answered is how long companies like Comcast will competitively navigate consumer expectations and the wider array of connectivity options as 2030 approaches.

“Comcast Data Caps”


Nomadic Social Distancing Connectivity

Network connectivity options are coming not just to consumers in their homes and on the go but also for their favorite objects. Indeed, one of the key stories for 5G is vehicular communication networks that will usher in unique use cases.

Eventually, there will be a market for fully electric hermetically sealed living compartment sized vehicles. Just look at Reddit communities like /r/priusdwellers to understand how minimalist nomadic lifestyles are connected to car culture through an overnight AC and generator combo on wheels.

If you follow hobbyist #RVLife #minimalism #DigitalNomads streams on social platforms, you’ll immediately understand why an all-electric E-Transit from Ford may fundamentally alter the future of remote work and potentially shape future census data and domicile law.

The RV community is interesting for a few reasons. A common pattern is the updating and upfittings of delivery van chassis. Most likely, the pattern will increasingly be oriented to mobile offices as an RV platforms.

So, the first viable fully electric delivery vans from Ford will be a 2021 test case. The key question is how many of the first chassis sales will be an experiment for conversions to RV platforms.

Since the RVLife discussion has picked up in recent years even before the pandemic of 2020 a corresponding interest in connectivity has followed. The discussion represents true demand for a broadband anywhere movement. In fact, there are websites such as that detail the art of what is possible within the consumer or prosumer markets.

If you follow long haul trucking or have listened to stories around national dividends (aka universal basic income) to offset trucker unemployment, just keep in mind that self driving and augmented assisted driving trucks have been in operation for several years. By 2030 these systems and training models will have been greatly refined. Many of the legal and logistical obstacles will have been overcome as well.

All of these futurist outcomes will require that social telecom extend far ahead the reality of social telecom in 2020. So as the saying goes, it is a question of when not if. As such, 2030 seems like a good placeholder.

Who will pay for this and how?

On a long enough timeline, societies might one day become civil enough to Expensify our Soylent and be reimbursed through Coinbase where each transaction is opt-in rounded up to infuse a GoFundMe surplus that augments grand projects outside the established norm of national dividends. Or, maybe not but it is an interesting topic to explore.

Superman III references aside, there are a few examples from the recent expansion of social media influencers and how marketing budgets have shifted. Today, it is likely to see traditional advertising spend from decades ago shifting to more earned media exposure routes.

Sponsoring celebrity

How? Simply flashback to when the Twitter “SUL” happened in 2009 where the network provided immediate access to clicks that potentially could translate into rewards.

Years later, when Google+ was a thing, I remember becoming way to popular way too fast because I was added to a similar kind of list in 2011. Thankfully, Google+ went the way of Buzz / Wave / etc… but there was no doubt I saw greater traffic. Had I opted to put banner advertising on my web properties, I could have experienced a windfall event.

But in 2020 a clever content creator moment on TikTok can translate into influencer level payouts.

Now imagine TikTok grade influencer economics like those from Gibson’s Idoru as 2030 arrives. The ability to craft an economic engine on top of sustained creator celebrity is not outside the realm of possibility but will require connections between telecom and the likes of Patreon to make this possible.

How will this become a reality?

So let’s talk about the how that could make this economic engine of paying it forward even possible: observability and whim based infrastructure.

Assumed Accessible Observability

We will see companies previously branded as “software defined” or “intent based” across networking and storage that offer “telemetry, “watcher”, or “reporter” functionality. Marketing will pivot to emphasize an “observability” angle more than an underlying technology investment.

By 2030, the marketing brand pledge and product capabilities will be far closer. Again, as a riff on Arthur C. Clarke’s original law:

Any sufficiently advanced product is indistinguishable from marketing.

Today, achieving observability can be challenging. Ideally, the social telecom would be able to meaningfully correlate a wider variety of signals and arrive at desired beneficial action as simple accessible options for the subscriber.

For social telecom 2030, there will need to be a consumer relevant assumption that an assurance is made and honored regarding observability for the communication taking place between other consumers, subscribers, agents, devices, and any combinations in between.

If the concept of a CDR, nuisance phone calls, or even anxiety regarding bandwidth utilization is still complex today, much work is needed between today and 2030 to make consumer activity more encouraging and to make a variety of useful signals more portable and easily applied to useful outcomes.

A convergence is required for a social telecom 2030 reality. This convergence will result in far greater observability across physical, logical, personal, financial, and market dynamics. Finding the signals that represent the best intention with best available resources at a best time delivery is the key to unlocking accessibility for the widest possible audience.

The most obvious missing requirement today is for a Yodlee-like or Mint-like overlay for how telecom is able to participate in the personal financial side of the customer experience. Orthogonal approaches today are still contained to the mobile experience as with Apple or Google devices.

For social telecom 2030, the market will seek out a way to combine financial signals with the network, proximity, and intentions of the subscriber in a deeply personal way. As greater machine to machine (M2M) becomes pervasive and ubiquitous to the subscriber’s world it will be essential to minimize any complexity for the beneficial convergence described.

To understand the gulf of where we are in 2020 and what social telecom 2030 would look like, just consider your own home broadband connection. Think back on the number of devices you had in 2010 that connected to WiFi or took up an Ethernet port. How many more devices are participating in 2020? Now, imagine what 2030 might mean if next generation personal networks are also connecting to different Internet access networks or private label balkanized networks associated with brands.

Many of those devices in 2020 now have IPv6 stacks in addition to IPv4. Imagine a 5G and 6G world of xCPRI that could provide relevant informed consent to a consumer.

Consider the findings from OpenVault’s recent 2020 broadband insights report where greater demand for symmetric bandwidth and overall volume of use is happening. Clearly, a true social telecom 2030 experience will need to have far better usage meter than today’s aged reporting and today’s lack of app level granularity and fidelity.

What consumer would attempt to manually correlate per device usage with aged blunted aggregate facilities based broadband reporting? Answer: None. Consumer expectation will change and the telecom industry will have to respond.

After all, we have EnergyStar for our appliances yet there is a relative infancy in observability that is relevant to the home consumer until you get to prosumer grade routers / CPE or ecosystem players. Perhaps Umbrella-like or Asus-Merlin-like companies will emerge in the coming years for assumed accessible observability a social telecom 2030 reality for consumers.

Again, nobody will have time for data caps in 2030. So, we move ahead in a mutually beneficial way. We can get to a win win win by ruthlessly removing friction and the eddies that result in turbulent commercial flow.

Whim Based Infrastructure

Imagine that a social gesture on a device or near an object that accepts gestures that would apportion a form of credits towards a creator, event, brand, identity, cause, etc. Not “likes” per se but a zero friction way to simply take a small percentage of your mobile phone bill and apply it to something you care about.

Concepts of micro-payments have floated around for many years. Cryptocurrency and distributed ledger concepts are coming into wider acceptance.

Consider that top tier mobile phone service packages might include a subsidy in the form of Disney+ or Hulu or Apple Music. This same concept could apply to a build your own subsidy pattern.

Now combine with social cause matching so that institutions can link their own funds to the wider consumer economic flow. Again, this will require the social telecom to move beyond basic delivery of voice and data services to combine and align with the interests of financial technology stacks as well.

The whim in whim based infrastructure is a riff or hot take on everything being something “based”. So, just as Marc Andreesen posits software is eating the world and every company rushes to rename their product as “software defined X” we will need to see software expressed as the social gesture.

To achieve this vision, infrastructure will need to cater to our whim. The sudden desire is the next logical progression of same day delivery. The whim is what happens when we can donate and provide patronage to anything at anytime by wishing to do so — without filling out web forms, with out finding a credit card, without having to push a cryptic incantation on our smart watch, without having to remember what app that was on our mobile phone.

Site Reliability Engineering Cultures

Telecom will changing as there are increased expectations on where the market requires.

A growing number of companies want to attract and hire for site reliability engineer (SRE) roles. In fact, SRE appears to be one of the most in-demand jobs according to LinkedIn Talent Blog.

If you consider podcasts an expression of culture, it is interesting that there are at least 50 podcasts that reference SRE in some form or fashion. If you squint a bit and search for DevOps you’ll find almost 3,000 podcasts.

SRE cultures in the coming decade will permeate the experiences that surround consumers. It is the SRE culture that will be responsible for the ruthless removal of annoyances that have a direct impact on increased consumer satisfaction with the rapidly expanding services that will be expected to operate with immediacy, availability, and ubiquity.

Onboarding will accelerate as well. The time from when a new hire is brought into an organization will become far more streamlined in the coming years. For example, a social telecom 2020 company could make use of Namely, Gusto, Rippling, or Zenefits to quicken the time from hired to contributing team member.

So, if the SRE is focused on the ruthless removal of annoyance then the HR patterns that involve physical paperwork will be digitally transformed even further into fully electronic, automated, and personalized processes. Essentially, by offloading the PEO burden to companies that operate with a singular focus, the SRE culture can flourish even further faster.

Commensurate patterns

If you’ve seen a CoW before at an event you know there is probably a good chance you’ll have a good signal on your mobile phone and a quality mobile experience. Knowing when and where to place the CoW or a drone, ballon, or any other imaginative way to bring the service closer to the subscriber at the right time is to achieve a commensurate pattern.

Commensurate patterns will represent the proportional response to a perceived need (i.e. technology) at the right time in the right place. To achieve a commensurate pattern on a regular recurring basis is to have access to actionable analytics that can drive automation to achieve the outcome with the minimum of human operator involvement.

Prevalent placements

By 2020, there are multiple competing ways of operating essential applications within a managed hosted environment if an on premises datacenter is not ideal. From Amazon Web Services to Google Cloud Platform to Microsoft Azure to Oracle Cloud, there are hyperscale sized options as marketing .

Also, like the early days of selecting a telecom carrier for circuits and Internet egress, there is much work to be done in normalized connectivity options in an emerging marketplace. Essentially, a social telecom 2030 reality will require accessible and effective peering across boundaries that exist today as well as easily consumable patterns that are advsiable as well as a growing ecosystem of partners that will design fit for purpose approaches to meet the use cases of the next decade.

Curiously, much like the early days of telecom, a social telecom 2030 would need to the choice of hyperscaler to be AND not only OR propositions. As such, the prevalent placements of data as well as applications will undergo a shift to enable the OR propositions that are nascent.

For example, consider the need for common policies that are the modern equivalent of the carrier neutral facility. Essentially, the ability to have placements where mutliple hyperscalers can be accessible and switched as desired will become the rule not the exception.

Of course, social telecom has traditionally been about terrestial placements so far. In addition to the placements on the ground there will be placements in space and somewhere in between.

Even the tethered aerostats of the 1960s and today will have applications as enduring drones if the tether is more a question of placement logically and not just physically. So, by combining telemetry to predict and respond to demand there will be far greater alignment to actual needs in a social telecom 2030 approach to infrastructure investments.

Edge intelligence

The physical world is going to be more connected and that means more data than we’ve ever had to contemplate before. Scale aside, even the notions of gathering, filtering, refining, inferring, learning, and applying are almost in an infancy as a general application of knowledge.

To create the general application of knowledge to the edge intelligence problem space, new companies will need to be created that might not exist yet. Luckily, several companies do exist in 2020 that will be models of those that will build social telecom 2030. is working to simplify the delivery of colocation, exchanges, and various networking services that are essential to the next-generation of applications. Ideally, placement meets demands patterns can be executed in novel premium real time ways or more cost effective timely ways that would previously have taken weeks or months of tedium to execute. is making spatial and temporal variation in service provider operations the opening gambit for a more informed and relevant form of actionable analytics. Even in 2020, it’s very early days and an undeniably brighter future ahead for wider ecosystems in 2030. So, imagine several companies going into the remaining problem spaces that provide supporting decision systems and action paths to support the commensurate patterns required for social telecom in 2030.

Are there other companies helping to make edge intelligence possible? Absolutely. Just take a look at the Linux Foundation Edge Interactive Landscape to see just a few of the companies that are helping to bring edge intelligence closer to reality.

“LF Edge”


Universal access

A lofty rule to follow in any managed service is to only permit professional service charges when then there is a button the customer could just as easily have pushed themselves. In effect, the business is developing a self-service model to maximize customer agency and the most obvious recent examples typically those of the API economy in modern service provider models.

For social telecom 2030, it will be important that an entire swath of professional services companies are pushed far outside of the business from standing up cloud consumption infrastructure for applications. Low code and no code approaches to outcomes will need to be the opening gambit not a distant horizon.

Imagine the voice interface of our most advanced living room devices in 2020 becoming a entry for a vast dictionary of intents and outcomes. Effectively, saying “throw a flash mob party” would begin all the work for creating an ad hoc friends and family 5G network that deals with shared video streaming, instantiates election protocols for DJ music selection rights, establishes a defined immersive VR / AR experience, and sets an open virtual bar tab that lasts as long as the credits are available to provide drone deliveries of warm churros.

xCPRI evolution

The concept of a private 5G experience is being vetted in 2020 with enhanced Common Public Radio Interface (eCPRI) but typically with a single provider in a controlled environment. Looking at what social telecom 2030 will require taking enhanced concepts and sufficiently enabling open virtualized radio access for any customer on any provider anywhere at anytime.

For social telecom 2030, the simple story might be that 6G completes the stories that were associated with 5G. However, the decade ahead will likely be more about the industrialization of the supporting platforms as physcial objects reach economics of fractions of a cent to enable the connectivity and telemetry that for now is just a dream and the xCPRI that these objects communicate.

Stacked learning

The software applications of social telecom 2030 will build upon many of the learned patterns from 2020. The progression will be related to the “ibles” and “ables”.

  • Possible - can it be done
  • Permissible - can it done with less risk
  • Repeatable - can it be done again and again
  • Sustainable - can it be done efficiently
  • Advisable - can it be done with earned trust

How do these progressions manifest in the startup world of 2020?

As an example, SMOKE stack from Triggermesh highlights what is popssible and repeatable in an approach that covers five trends: Serviceful, Mashable, Open, K8s, and Event-driven. Be leveraging all of the learned lessons and trends that are converging it means everyone from the internal DevOps teams within an organization to the ISV ecosystems they will increasingly rely upon, these stack approaches will come to represent how to proceed directly to creation of net new innovations.

As another example, Cloud Marketplaces from is approaching the sustainable, permissible, and advisable progression. By leveraging all of the hard earned learning of various shopping cart experiences in modern cloud deployment landscapes the ISV ecosystem can focus on what is truly core to their efficacy and innovation in unique Intellectual Property (IP).

Augmentation of self

Social telecom 2030 will not necessarily mean everyone has their own personal P-5000 after they attain their Class-2 rating. Instead, augmentation in a social telecom 2030 world will mean that a decade of AI / ML / DL has been sufficiently refined to enable new consumer behaviors.

To reach sufficient refinement will mean the website e-commerce experiences of personal taste graphs will further influence just-in-time manufacturing, supply chains, and the gears of retail that satisfy the needs of the self. So, when voice or even gestures are interpreted by devices to carry out the wishes of the user operator, the underlying infrastructure and connectivity in place will permit patterns that are far more advanced than simply buying more bioreactor grown food from a touch screen refrigerator door and with far less initial setup required.

Within the decade, any of the beneficial patterns of fintech advisory systems will become part of an expected platform for dignity. Legal language corpus will be simplified through benevolent AI / ML / DL services to ease the overhead of myriad EULA acceptance criteria.

The only question for social telecom 2030 is what level of adoption there will be for the self. Just as every technology and industrial revolution has had before, it will be important to consider how our impulses and our attention spans will benefit from conscious and conspicuous use of augmentation.

Impulse alignment

Wanting things immediately is, perhaps, part of being a human that experienced emergence of technologies that automated, simplified, or otherwise accelerated the ability to satisfy a desire faster. So, for social telecom 2030 it will be critical to ensure that our impulses are aligned to beneficial outcomes for the one and for the many.

As the saying goes, if everything is a top priority then there is no such thing as priority. When the modern stories of outages, congestion, and slow performing applications are more historical in nature it will be the result of cultural changes that placed uptime, availability, and high performance as the table stakes.

Considering the news cycle in 2020 and 2010 before it, the ability of a network or application to be newsworthy will only increase as we approach social telecom 2030. The more we become connected in new and unique ways, the more importance we will place on the assumed ubiquity of a network to honor our various service requests and social impulses.

What requires careful attention?

It’s a good time to wrap up and think through a few more considerations. Specifically, the “just because you can doesn’t mean you should” part of the story.

Again, technology is just the response to a perceived need. Here’s a great old quote I’ve taped to the refrigerator to keep me grounded and cynical.

“A DCGAN hyper-localized psyops campaign can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes. — Mark Twain” — Michael Scott

AI/ML and taste squelch knobs will need to be present because the streams will be far beyond what we assume is useful or manually manageable. There is a low chance of success if SRE skills are required to simply pay attention to the news.

Content creation and the means of production will continue to reach wider and more inclusive audiences. Eternal September aside, we will have to think about what is experienced today that could be problematic in the future.

What signals are sustainable?

What’s news? What’s entertainment? Who is the arbiter of each?

In 2020 the pattern seems to be… an old pattern.

  1. Monetize a podcast/channel/etc
  2. Say/write/do something outrageous (troll)
  3. Wait for it to be noticed by the outrage prone
  4. Engage based on greatest amplification potential
  5. Deep link for rage subscribes
  7. 🔁

Just consider this fun re-reading exercise.

  1. Re-read the “Perspectives on Harmful Speech Online”.
  2. Try to forget it was published in 2017.
  3. Imagine this was published in 2023.
  4. Imagine Internet balkanization in 2027.
  5. Imagine if 2030 has learned no lessons from history.

What should be considering as we approach the decisions we will make locally, societally, and globally?

Last but not least, consider Azeem Azhar’s take on environmental aspects should we be prepared for as 2030 approaches.

  1. Read Part 1 Azeem Azhar’s take on the remote work and automation trends.
  2. Read Part 2 Azeem Azhar’s take on topics as varied as AI to what we might be eating.

If you read this far, ultimately, my best advice is to revisit our assumptions of what constitutes the curriculum of 2030 to assume that STEM is not enough. Instead, we will need to aim for ESTEEM = STEM + Ethics + Empathy.


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