Timm Ringhofer's Professional Journal--April

greenspun.com : LUSENET : M.Ed./International Falls : One Thread

Meetings Without Walls by David Haskins, Internet World October 1997, pp. 53-60.

Many businesses spend millions of dollars each year on travel expenses for their people to attend meetings all over the world. These cannot be completely eliminated, but through the use of computers, software, and the Internet, some of these millions spent can be saved and used elsewhere.

Today, Internet- and intranet-based collaborative tools are inexpensive to implement, easy to set up, and create relatively little disruption to individual workstyles. More specifically, they help foster discussions, brainstorming, and the exchange of data.

There a variety of collaboration products to choose from with the trick finding the right one for the situation. E-mail is the common thread for all of the products. However, e-mail can be limited on how fast one can e-mail from person to person. This is where the idea of threaded messages becomes important. Bulletin board systems and Usenet newsgroups are systems that allow a lot of people to give their ideas at one time and keep the topic on one central idea. However, public newsgroups are a poor choice for business because of privacy or control. Imagina Inc. has developed software that allows a person to manage newsgroups for $498. Lotus Notes is an example of closed threaded messaging system that has some distinct advantages over newsgroups. Probably the best and most advanced product available in this area is Netscape Collabra.

Web-based message boards are also becoming more popular. Turner Broadcasting System uses OReilly & Associates WebBoard. It offers both threaded messages and real-time chat. Another threaded messaging option is Open Texts Livelink Intranet DMS which allows the user to create their own home page.

Chat rooms for business is really not anymore effective than using the telephone.

Whiteboarding is the ability to use software on a computer to conduct meetings where everyone can write and erase information throughout the meeting. One of the first Interned-based whiteboard products was Netscapes CoolTalk. Not only does CoolTalk allow a person to insert graphics, but if you and your colleague are using a multimedia system (speakers and a microphone), you can talk as you compare notes. Microsoft NetMeeting is one of the most advanced whiteboarding applications because it allows real-time drawing with Internet telephony and videoconferencing.

New software is being developed in this area at a very quick pace. Being aware of the companys needs and wants are important before deciding on a package. Also, where the company is headed over the coming years is important as the needs of the company may change.

I had to read this article about four times until I understood enough of it to write the summary part of this paper. A good share of the terminology is above my head which would make any article difficult to read. However, through the many readings, I now feel l could discuss this topic with someone and at least fake that I know something.

What technology can allow us to do these days is truly incredible. The ability to write on a slate of some type and to have someone else be able to see that AND make changes to that is hard to fathom. Whiteboarding is going to be a popular way to conduct meetings in the next century.

Many of us, including myself, are amazed by the abilities of e-mail and the Internet. But allowing the Internet to work for someone with threaded messaging, newsgroups, and whiteboarding is really beyond my imagination. Plus to have the imagination and be able to design is remarkable. Articles like this one make me somedays feel like my job is not that important.

In closing, this article has opened my eyes to another aspect that computers and the Internet can do that I had no idea was occurring.

-- Anonymous, April 06, 1999

Moderation questions? read the FAQ