Thu, 17 January 2008
Intro: In this podcast we discuss the growing array of online collaboration tools.
Mike: Gordon, because I'm in New Jersey and you're in Massachusetts, we've had to rely on online collaboration tools quite a bit. What are some of the tools we use most often?
Gordon: If we look just at what we're doing today. We use Skype - the free VoIP client to record these podcasts and we use Google Docs (docs.google.com) to write, edit and share the scripts. In fact, I use Google Docs to collect material and write my blog - ictcenter.blogspot.com
Mike: Although it's not a new tool, we also use email quite a bit.
Gordon: Yes - email is still a very important tool, but more and more we seem to be communicating with other tools such as Twitter and Text Messaging. The iPhone really lends itself to quick communication with email, Tweets, and IM.
Mike: Twitter and Google Docs aren't the only options.
Gordon: No. in addition to twitter, there are micro-blogging services Jaiku and Pownce, although if you compare the three using Google Trends, we see that Twitter is by far the most popular of the three.
Mike: What about Google Docs.
Gordon: It's what we use, and probably the most popular, but there are alternatives, including Zoho, Thinkfree and Zimbra. Again Google Trends gives us a nice snapshot.
Gordon: There's been some movement with some of these tools.
Mike: Yes. Zimbra was purchased in September by Yahoo, and Thinkfree is having some issues with leadership and possibly looking at a change of direction.
Gordon: Are there some new online collaboration tools?
Mike: Robin Good Online Collaboration Technologies - New Tools And Web Services - Robin Good's Latest News has a great listing of some new online collaboration tools and services. Good also points to Kolabora www.kolabora.com - a great resource for news and information about online collaboration.
Gordon: Mike could you give us an overview of the tools Good describes.
Mike: Sure - the article describes eight new online collaboration services, including:
Tokbox: http://www.tokbox.com/ is a free web-based video conferencing application that enable you to have one-to-one video meetings online. With the service, you create a video room and invite someone for a video conference. You can even embed the conference room on your web-site, or blog. I think this is a great tool for providing technical support, office hours, access to a librarian, or even college counseling.
Gordon: What else?
Mike: SeeToo: http://www.seetoo.com/ On the surface, SeeToo a free web-based application for sharing videos with friends and family doesn't seem that novel. What makes SeeToo unique is that you don't need to upload your videos - instead you select a video (any size) from your computer, invite others to watch, and click play to start watching together. It's like you're running your own streaming server!
TeamViewer: http://www.teamviewer.com/ TeamViewer is a free (for personal, non-commercial use) Windows-only application that allows you to share your screen and control someone else's PC. After downloading, you start the program without any installation. You have a code and password you can provide to others to view and control your PC, and similarly, they have a code/password combination they can share with you. Other features include chat and the ability to transfer files. Possible applications include helpdesk/desktop support, application demos, and distance education.
FlickIM: http://flick.im/ FlickIM is a free Web-based instant messenger application that allows you to connect to all major IM services (AIM, MSN, Yahoo, GoogleTalk, Jabber, ICQ). Seems very similar to an existing service - meebo. Includes video, audio and other add-ons, as well as an iPhone friendly interface. Meebo has also customized their interface for the iPhone.
Loudtalks: http://loudtalks.com/ Is a free, Windows-only download-able application that gives users walkie talkie-like ability to communicate with one another with the touch of a single button(F7). Versions are being developed for other platforms, including mobile phones.
AirTalkr: http://airtalkr.com/ Similar to FlickIM, AirTalkr allows you to access multiple IM networks. One major difference is access to Web 2.0 services (Flickr, YouTube, Twitter, and Myspace). AirTalkr is runs within Adobe's AIR (cross-operating system runtime; hybrid web/desktop applications) - Windows and MAC, and also as a web-based application. Looks like the download version doesn't work with the current version of AIR. Here's a screen grab:
Global IP Video: http://www.globalipvideo.com/
Global IP Video has a free web-based (no downloads, no installs) video conferencing tool MeBeem (http://www.mebeem.com) that uses flash to create video conferences. In a browser, create a room, share it, and click to connect. Not sure how well it works, and seems a little like the wild west. Here are a couple screenshots: