Wanted: Group videoconferencing trial participants

A note to readers  who may be interested in giving free group videoconferencing a trial run.
We have been using videoconferencing for our international networking on a daily basis since mid-1993, and have always had great difficulty in understanding why these technologies are not being put to more and better use by our friends and colleagues around the world, especially those with a commitment to sustainable transportation. About every eighteen months (call it a Moore Generation) we find ourselves switching something in terms of hardware or software so as to be able to be more effective in this important part of our overall communications and contact program. We are now on the lip of a new generation and would like to invite you to join us for limited testing and otherwise and laying the base for something that is, I firmly believe, going to be truly useful for us all.

The intention here is not to push you into videoconferencing per se — though I cannot think of why you should not have this in your personal sustainability toolkit —  but rather to share with you information on a new and what looks to be very promising free technology that has very recently appeared on the scene — and to invite any of you who may share these interests to lend a hand with a bit of pre-testing in order to be able to see how it might be put to better use in support of better streets and better cities.

The technology in question is from — surprise me! — Google, and this time around they are calling it Google-plus. Let me not proselytize for Google, but at the same time I can share with you my observation that what seems to be (potentially) interesting about this free service is that it not only seems to be a much cleaner, less intrusive approach than that offered by Facebook or other of the more popular social media. There are also other wrinkles which we find worth attention, but this is something you can find out for yourselves. And what we should like to concentrate on today is the concept of group video conferencing.

Group Video Conferencing – How to get on line

The Google people have built into their new toolbox what looks at first glance like some pretty effective group video conferencing services. On the other hand they have done a pretty ragged job of allowing you to get on line easily. Let’s see if we can make up for that.

Here is how it works: If you do not already have a Google account, you will need to set up one, which is quickly done if you click to https://accounts.google.com/NewAccount. Alternatively if you like an invitation drop me a line at eric.britton@ecoplan.org and I will send you one directly.

Once you are in, to call up my Google+ page, all you need is to click http://tinyurl.com/gplus-eb into the browser of your choice. And for the World Streets circle, http://tinyurl.com/gplus-ws.

All this may strike some of you as a bit much, but my hope is that we will get a few volunteers so that we can do the necessary testing as a pilot group, and then pass on results along with some judicious hints to others who might be interested in getting together occasionally for project or event planning purposes, seminars or presentations.

It may not be zero carbon transport, but it is certainly a lot lower carbon than climbing on to a plane every time we have to put our heads together, and that surely seems like a step in the right direction.

Thanks for your patience and thanks especially for getting in touch if this works for you.

Eric Britton

PS.  And thank you Steve.  You gave us quite a run.

7 thoughts on “Wanted: Group videoconferencing trial participants

  1. Sounds interesting. And I surely hope that meetings in international organisations can benefit from this. I have been trying to point to the possibility of an on-line section in Annual General Meetings of one international organisation.

    Some ingredients needed for participants :
    * Relatively modern Personal Computer of some sort (could be shared but perhaps not ideal)
    * Web-cam, speakers, microphone plugged into the PC
    * Privacy / low-noise surroundings
    * Free time in the same timeslot as the others participating

  2. Eric
    I have added your page to my Google+. The other link did not work – perhaps you want to take a look at it.
    Always ready to give this a trial run. Let me know when it suits you.

    As for new software, I added ooVoo to my collection today, though Skype is still my main online communications device. OoVoo worked better with someone I was talking with. I noticed that I could video conference with up to 12 people for free there, whilst on Skype I would have to pay if I want more than a one on one connection with video.

    Conference calls work perfectly on Skype. I have had conversations with 5 people spread over 4 countries, two of whom were on land lines. It really is an amazing service and the quality of the calls seems to improve constantly.

    I look forward to hearing from you


  3. Just in case you are not familiar with group videoconferencing, let me share with you a certain number of details which are also relevant for one-on-one conferencing but which become even more important in a group video meeting. Let me share with you what we have learned with our experience in this:

    1. Ambient noise: the less the better.

    2. Lighting: whereas chiaroscuro is wonderfully dramatic, it will be easier for everyone if you have your face evenly lit.

    3. Speaker/mike placement: Check to be sure that you are not getting feedback as results of speaker/mike placement.

    4. Camera height: if possible, adjust the camera so that it is level with your eyes. If you are looking down, this is both tiring for you and does not give the others a feeling for the openness of the exchange.

    5. Bandwidth. It is like they say: you can never be too pretty or too rich. And you can never have too much bandwidth. Never.

    6. Introduce yourself: If you are coming into a meeting in progress, best is to have prepared a few lines which you can pop onto the group chat slot (bottom left of page) to let the others know who you are.

    If I have missed anything here please let me know.

    See you on World Streets on Google+

    Eric Britton

  4. I am willing to participate, but I cannot see what I need to do to do so. I do not find Google+ very intutive. Am I alone in that? I clicked all the links you sent, Eric, but what next?

  5. Hi Eric –
    I’m willing to do a teleconference. I’ve added you to one of my circles, but did not see a world streets circle on your page.

    Do you have a date, time, topic for the test?




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