||Time was when collaboration was a dirty word. These days, of
course, collaboration implies cooperation and teamwork, in both the corporate
setting and the home office.
And while at one time accomplishing This teamwork required you to spend four
hours in a stuffy conference room sitting next to a smelly guy named Vinnie, the Internet
has shattered that shackle. Net-based conferencing software lets you take part in group
meetings from the comfort of your own desk, from whatever corner of the world you happen
to be in. You can collect opinions from several people simultaneously, throw ideas on a
whiteboard, work on shared documents, type chatty comments back and forth, and even watch
the Young Turks smirk while they trash others' ideas
These types of products allow two or more people in different locations to share data in
real time -- electronic collaboration that creates a virtual meeting. In addition to audio/videoconferencing,
there are five basic methods of electronic collaboration: application sharing, shared
clipboard, file transfer, whiteboarding, and text-based chat-- often
referred to collectively as DataConferencing. Each is defined in more detail below:
Application sharing. You can share a program running on one computer with other
participants in the conference. Participants can review the same data or information, and
see the actions as the person sharing the application works on the program (for example,
editing content or scrolling through information.) Participants can share Windows-based
applications transparently without any special knowledge of the application capabilities.
The person sharing the application can choose to collaborate with other people in a
call, and they can take turns editing or controlling the application. Only the person
sharing the program needs to have the given application installed on their computer.
Shared clipboard. The shared clipboard enables you to exchange its contents with
other people in a call using familiar cut, copy, and paste operations. For example, you
can copy information from a local document and paste the contents into a shared
application as part of a group collaboration. This capability provides seamless exchange
of information between shared applications and local applications.
File transfer. With the file transfer capability, you send a file in the
background to one or all of the people in the current call. You can right-click on a
person and choose to send them a file, or you can drag a file into the Microsoft
NetMeeting window and have the file automatically sent to each person, who can then accept
or decline receipt. The file transfer occurs in the background as everyone continues
sharing an application, using the whiteboard, or chatting.
Whiteboard. The whiteboard program is a multi-page, multi-user drawing
application that enables you to sketch diagrams, organization charts, or display other
graphic information with people in a call. Whiteboard is object-oriented (versus
pixel-oriented), allowing you to move and manipulate the contents by clicking and dragging
with the mouse. In addition, you can attach an electronic whiteboard from SoftBoard or
Chat. You can type text messages to share common ideas or topics with other
people, or record meeting notes and action items as part of a collaborative process. You
can also use chat to communicate in the absence of audio support. A new
"whisper" feature lets you have a separate, private conversation with another
person during a group chat session. From the Chat window, simply click on the person's
name in the Send To list, and type your private text message that only you and the
selected person will see.