Reading Nicholas Carr's dissection of the blogosphere this morning as "a vast, earth-engirdling digestive track, breaking down the news of the day into ever finer particles of meaning (and ever more concentrated toxins)" I am inspired to do my bit as a bacterium here in my little crease of the bowel.

For customer service systems, the punters' views aren't getting any better: SR is the easy target again for comment rage here, and the over-casual persona  of a major telephone company hits the wrong note with this customer. (These kind of reactions are becoming a theme [1] [2].)

But we've also seen an uptake of interest in speech technology in the mainstream media - the New York Times has recently covered speech recognition in Windows Vista, audio search and voicemail transcription, and the Wall Street Journal also weighed in last week on video search start-ups.

So what? Acceptance. While we'll always laugh at recognition errors and rail at poor voice UIs, the foothold of speech technology is more firmly established than ever before in a growing number of environments. This is why I'm excited about Speech Server can do within the rising tide of unified communications - at the end of the day, this is an enabling technology that allows people and systems to connect. Without it, there would be a phone ringing in an empty room, words of wisdom lost in unsearched audio, a whole class of users disenfrachised from productivity. With it, there is the opportunity to build applications that simplify and enrich people's interactions with each other and with the data that the world runs on.

Anyway, that was the courtesy flush. As the next release of Speech Server 2007 approaches, I'll be blogging more frequently about features - especially dialog design and tuning tools - and also on application ideas that open new scenarios in communications. I'd love to get your comments along the way, online or off.