The future of video conferencing: asychronous communication
As a languages teacher video-conferencing was always a technology that I had wanted to exploit, but until recently we've never had the bandwidth or plentiful, cheap webcams to consider it something any teacher could do. Glow, Scotland's national intranet, makes it even easier to connect through video-conferencing by providing every learner and teacher with the Marratech video conference and desktop sharing tool.
As I sit here though, teleworking from a wintery 27 degree Florida, I am also struck by a second barrier over which we are unlikely to ever have any control. I am very conscious of the fact that all my Scottish friends are heading off to bed. I have no-one to play with. I am Twitter-no-mates. The time difference has got the better of us tech-minded communicators.
This is why I reckon the biggest innovations this year will be tools that allow us to communicate in audio, video and text with friends and make as-yet-unknown serendipitous links with potential contacts, friends and workmates, in the same way as our Skype, blogs and Twitter feeds allow today, but with the convenience of delayed communication, that our old friend email has so successfully cornered. There are currently two strong runners in this area, both under tight beta invitation only, but both worth putting your email address in for right now.
Seesmic is a delayed video conferencing tool I've been using since early October 2007, whereby I post the first part of a video discussion, using an online video recorder, which is then disseminated to anyone who happens to be online at that moment and my coveted friends' list, too. They can then reply at their leisure, in video, creating a kind of video discussion thread. Best of all, those who are not on the Seesmic system can view my part of the discussion online, receiving updates of anything new on Twitter, through their mobile phone even. They can then respond in text or on their blog accordingly. It's all beautifully connected; take a look at my pictorial Seesmic guide to see how useful this can be in a world of competing timetables and time differences.
On a slightly different tack, and more up the streets of those already hooked into Skype, is Yabb, the brand new service launched by me'pal Paul Birch and his crew at Cominded. Paul is one of the founding partners of Bebo and has taken the networking success of that recipe and created a Skype-based discussion board for those wanting to find like-minded individuals to thrash out issues. You post an issue that interests you and, when someone else wants to discuss it, they can reserve a Skype call at a time that is convenient to both parties. When both parties are online, you will be notified that the call can be made. Just-in-time thinking and reflection, if you will. While this is in private beta, Paul will fast-track anyone coming to signup to the service through this blog.
Asychronous video conferencing - it's the future :-)