Communicating and Networking in the NewNorth

The Blizzard of '06.

I've seen blizzards, and this, sir, was no blizzard. Winter storm, ok, but blizzard, no.

However, the storm did cause cancellation of meetings for many of us in New North Wisconsin. Which leads me to wonder what online tools might have been or were used in spite of the storm to minimize the negative impact of those cancelled meetings. I'm actively working to find and develop skill with effective tele-collaboration tools for several groups.

In April I'm scheduled to participate in a virtual conference using Microsoft Live Meeting. I've not used Live Meeting before and am looking forward to using and learning more about that tool. If you've used Live Meeting before and care to pass on your suggestions about how to get the most out of it, please contact me.

For NEW NET, a weekly gathering of tech enthusiasts at Mister Churro in Appleton, we are scheduled to try out a couple means of having interested people participate in the NEW NET discussions from remote locations. Some of the tools discussed for the next meeting are web cams used with Yahoo's instant messenger or a VoIP (voice over internet protocol) program that will allow both video and audio connections. The VoIP program also allows people to view the computer screen of the person to whom they're talking. This allows you to easily use your computer screen as a white board for the other person.

Three events I'm involved with would benefit tremendously from effective tele-collaborating tools. Mind Camp planning team members are busy with numerous other projects. Conflicting schedules and geographical separation have resulted in slower-than-desired progress for Mind Camp planning. The event will still happen and be a fantastic experience, but the right communication and organizational tools would make things flow much more smoothly. The same can be said for the Innovation Breakfast Series and the NEW END 2006. Most volunteer-powered organizations and events that aren't driven by the need to make a profit would benefit from improved tele-collaboration tools.

In another year or two, some of the Web 2.0 tools and sites may be providing many of these communication and organizational tools. There are a number of online social collaboration tools available now, and more are being launched every week. Here's a site listing some of those tools: http://www.philb.com/iwantto.htm. In the upcoming weeks as we try out those tools, I'll share our experiences and recommendations. If you have any tools you've found to be effective at low or no cost, please share your advice.

As we learn to be more effective in a "Flat World", we extend our personal connections and experiences across every increasing distances of geography and culture. The Journey not only continues, it becomes more enjoyable and more interesting. Good preparation for the day humans venture out into space for frontiers unknown. Now there's an entrepreneur's dream of untapped markets and innovations waiting to be thought up...


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