Monday, 13 December 2010


It seems likely that in the future it will be less likely that you'll need to attend meetings 'in person'... but this promise has been around for a long time without an accepted solution.

Cisco have established a strong presence in the market with their design for a purpose-built room (generically a videoconferencing suite):

The Apple iPhone 4 has a forward-facing camera and a built-in application / service called FaceTime

We will see how prevalent the FaceTime application will become when the next iPad arrives (spring 2011?), largely expected to also have a forward-facing camera. Then, if you can't attend a meeting, maybe send your iPad instead?

Or if you're not at your desk, just leave your iPad there?
For both of these images, I've done some liberal cut-and-pasting and scaled the iPad up, but you get the idea. Or maybe your remote avatar should be mobile as suggested by Anybot?

Or maybe you'll have a telepresence android?

So there's a range of options there, and we'll see which approach proves to be popular. The fact is that the internet is mostly (in volume terms) used to transmit video, bandwidth is the easiest internet parameter to increase, so this is going to lead to significant developments before long. This particular post is intended to illustrate the 'physical' end of the meeting, e.g. the picture of the guy sitting at his desk so you can walk in there and talk to him. Obviously the 'user' of the telepresence device is sitting somewhere, using some equipment, and this could be the Collaboration Station or something like it. When everyone is using a collaboration station, then these 'physical' versions become less needed.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Person-Centric Collaboration

A fundamental principle of collaboration is that it is person-centric. I.e. the important thing about collaboration is who you collaborated with, not which tool you used, or the project plan, or the record of the most recent meeting although these things are important.

Few people are able to label one kind of computing person-centric or not, although the distinction is pretty simple:

In person-centric computing, the primary objects you deal with are objects or icons representing people.

So if you want to see someone's phone number, you click on the person icon and it rolls over or something to reveal the business card containing the phone number. Maybe then you can click-to-dial.

If you want to email someone, you click on some email action button on their business card.

Or equally you can maybe drag the person icon onto a telephone, or drag a telephone onto the person icon.

On my 'Collaboration Station', you establish a collaborative 'conversation with a person by dragging that person's icon into an area on your desktop representing your office or meeting room.

Please note this is not the way most desktop systems work today (Dec 2010). Today, you choose a tool first, e.g. an email client, open it up to the tool function you want, e.g. the 'write an email' sub-tool, and
then input some identifier representing a person. Developments have taken place to make the desktop more document-centric which is a very good thing, i.e. you drag your document to a tool, and my discussion of person-centric computing has issues similar to that. The dominance of the 'tool' on the Windows desktop is still pretty strong though, i.e. to edit a word document you can drag the document to the 'Word' tool, but not to the 'Excel' tool, and vice-versa for spreadsheets - the system would still work if there was an 'edit' area on the desktop and you could drag either spreadsheets or Word documents to that. This is clearly analagous to the common 'Open' function that is triggered when you double-click a Word or Excel document.

First post on a new blog

I'm accumulating content regarding collaboration tools, and decided it needs a blog to go with it, so this is it.

A particular item is the design of a Collaboration Station, i.e. a consideration of appropriate tools, somehow integrated on the desktop, aimed at making interpersonal collaboration as productive as possible.