As always, PhoneBoy and VOIPGirl recently added interesting threads to the ongoing discussion about online video interactivity and how pervasive it will become. Both of them conclude that lowering the technical and usability barriers to Internet video interaction is not enough. They point out that other more human issues of "comfort" also exist that raise barriers to such video interaction -- namely video may not be the right medium for all communication, and many users also will be shy and uncomfortable with being in front of a camera. Other users simply will wish to remain anonymous in their online interactions.
I agree with several of these points, and alluded to some of these myself in one of my earlier discussions. Video certainly is not apt for every communication (just like voice only communications are not apt for every situation) -- and video may not be the best way to communicate every point (especially if you want to multi-task while communicating -- how many times have we written emails while on a voice only conference call?). Further, there can be no doubt that the anonymity enabled by non-video Internet video interaction is a plus for many people for a whole host of reasons.
The strength of video, however, is that it can do what no other medium can do. Video interaction, of course, uniquely introduces a "human" and personal quality to otherwise frequently impersonal and anonymous online experiences. Video connects like nothing else can, and this uniquely empowering "connectivity" presents THE opportunity for IP video (both for users and for businesses).
As the technical and usability barriers continue to be dismantled, and as web cams increasingly become integrated/embedded directly into PCs, Macs, notebooks and mobile phones, video calling and messaging will become increasingly pervasive in our lives. I have little doubt that camera shyness will ease for most everyone as they become more and more comfortable with the use of this new medium of communication.
Video interaction will be a uniquely powerful option for us in planned and unplanned moments of our lives ... whether or not we choose to use it in every instance.