iChat AV As A Larger Observation

So I’m sitting here pondering things after a night of initially playing with iChat AV. The numbers are, well, a little frightening.
I’ve already tried it with 9 people, across two computers on my end.
While one of the people had a problem on his end with his microphone, the other 8 all worked flawlessly. No fidelity problems, no problems with hearing myself echo back, nothing to monkey with firewall wise or any of that.
It just…worked.
And after David Moldawer also mentioned to me that he just plugged in his Firewire cam and with no configuration, that was working too. This has, admittedly, gotten me thinking in a bigger picture sense.
The Internet has widely adapted a new technology, as far as I’ve seen, when it’s as effortless as possible. (As Mark Pilgrim has noted, “A lot of effort went into making this effortless.”) You take an existing idea (one to many publishing), you refine the existing implementation (standard web pages), you turn it into something significantly easier and buzzword-laden (blogging), and you’re a success. Adam touched on this a little today on his blog:

Have I just become too lazy to write my own stuff? Or am I finally capitalizing on the success of others like me who have decided to churn out their own free/user-supported apps so I don’t have to do all the work anymore? Who knows.

I’ve come to the conclusion it’s not laziness at all; it’s just a desire to get things done in a more more effective fashion. I haven’t noticed this as much as I did last week in NYC. While I was using Ian’s TiBook and crapping it up with my apps, I never got to the point of installing an IRC client (figured it was overkill). I instead just went to the shell, ssh’d, BitchX’d, and made my way to my usual channels.
Now, when I’m home and not doing anything in particular, my attention tends to be split 33% iChat, 33% Hotline, 33% IRC. It’s very even because everything is equally effortless. But when I had to exert myself to get onto IRC and operate it (versus hitting F7 to launch my IRC client and a simple click or keystroke to change channels), I lost interest. Not because the people were boring, or because I was lazy, but because I could get more done focused on the other means of communications. So I went 40% iChat, 40% Hotline, 20% IRC.
So it’s not that we’re lazy people, but just that we want to make the most of our time. We give up complex, self-writting publishing engines for blogging engines, free music services for the iTunes Music Store, and (in my case anyhow) NetNewsWire for nntprss not because they let me be lazier, but because they let me accomplish more with less effort. Key distinction here: not accomplishing the same (thus being lazy), accomplishing more.
Coming back round to the point: one application on the net that never truly had a simple app that made it simple is voice and video chatting. I’m speaking from long standing experience here – CUSeeMe user from way back, never mind tinkering with iVisit and other apps during college. They were decent, but they left a lot to be desired.
However, with iChat AV, it has been beyond effortless. I was in a voice chat minutes after starting iChat AV for the first time – no configuring, no tweaking settings, nothing. I though to myself, “This is so easy, I would be happy to do this instead of IMing; it’s faster, it’s more human, and it’s dirt simple”.
And there’s the “Aha!” moment. I’m so accustomed to just IMing people, since nothing better ever came along, that I never expect to supplant it. But with Apple integrating this so well into the existing IM tools (versus AOL’s Talk functionality, which always left tons to be desired), suddenly I’m left wondering why I’d honestly want to stick with text IMs when I could be voice chatting.
Or hopefully, soon, video chatting – I’m apparently likely getting an iSight.
I honestly can’t wait.