Workable videoconferencing connections?

Dennis J. Streveler (strev@mobius.net)
Thu, 16 May 1996 08:25:01 -0700


At 11:11 PM 5/15/96 -0400, David I. Sommers, Ph.D. wrote:
>None of the products out there are easy and relaible enough yet for the
>average 288 dial-up user to make workable videoconferencing connections.
>PLEASE someone tell me I'm wrong.
>
>David Sommers

and

>Sorry, IMHO, your statement is correct as it stands. Additionally, I
>would say it is also true, at this time, for ISDN connections, as well.
>
>Dave in Phoenix

Hello David, and hello Dave,

David, IMHO you're wrong. Now, that said, let me qualify it. Depending on
your expectations, you are wrong.

I find as a software developer that I can indeed improve the quality of my
interactions using these products. Are they "videoconferencing connections"
in the sense of huge satellite dishes atop multimedia conference centers
with big screens and all that rot? Of course not. These afford rather simple
video "glimpses" of the other side.

But that is NOT to underestimate their power. Looking into a project
manager's eyes in Moscow and asking the likelihood that a particular project
will be done on time is MUCH more intense if there is a video element,
however crude. There is a human connection, and a professional connection,
that can't be equalled by pure telephone calls. And it has saved me a trip
or two to certain locations.

One trick I have found is to pair CU/ECU with another product. Since CU's
audio is not up to par, I sometimes pair Internet Phone, or at times the
"real" phone, with CU.

You can use other whiteboard applications if you can't figure out ECU's. You
can ship something by email while the conference is going on. Or a fax. Or a
... well you get the picture.

When I first discovered CU last year some time, I immediately said YES,
these products are going to fundamentally change communications as we know
it. I suppose, in their era, so did shortwave radio, ham radio, cb radio.
But the old axiom "a picture is worth a thousand words" stills stands.

In short, I would feel a profound loss professionally if these products
weren't around. That is why I participate in this LIST rather regularly. I
want to goad ahead the development of them further.

Regards,
Dennis

PS I do agree with Dave in Phoenix that ISDN itself doesn't seem to
contribute all that much. ISDN has in general been somewhat of a
disappointment for me. It doesn't help to have a Mazerati and have to drive
it on the Hollywood Freeway, and that is sorta what we are facing with
today's Internet bandwidth squueze.

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