This week has provided me with an interesting technology experience. My assignment for a class was to meet online with a couple of my peers using Skype, DimDim, Elluminate, or another online communication system. My group initially choose DimDim because we were told that it was a good tool that allowed three people to meet at the same time. Unfortunately, we were unsuccessful. Everything that was said by the members of the group echoed repeatedly, and there was a constant loud whine emitting from the speakers. I immediately attempted to download Skype, but by the time the program finished downloading, the meeting was over. My group eventually gave up on DimDim and attempted to use Elluminate. I was the administrator of the group, and was successfully able to transmit video and sound without complication. My peers, however, were not so fortunate. My two group members were both able to share their video feed, but sound was an issue. One peer's audio was not audible at all, while the other's was inconsistent and unclear. Both group members were able to hear me though. The entire situation was odd. In the end, I spoke while the other two members either nodded in agreement or typed their thoughts through the textbox in the sidebar. We left our meeting frustrated and confused.
I have to wonder: is Skype the only reliable online tool for internet video and audio communication. I know that my sister and her friends heavily rely on ichatting, but that requires all group members to have access to an Apple product. I have now had the experience to listen to several guest speakers through the use of Skype, but even then the video was unreliable. I feel that tools such as these have a potential to radically change the way people communicate, but I don't think that we are quite there yet.