Being here, being there
Jon Udell is one of my favorite authors. He has consistantly written about many important technologies and issues, much of which has been related to small group collaboration.
In particular, I love his screencasts. As Senior Yahoo! Product Manager, Matt MacAlister writes in an article on digital story telling and learning, "His 'Heavy Metal Umlaut' screencast is the classic".
Last week, Udell made some major announcements: he left InfoWorld, started a new blog and he is joining Microsoft. Wow!
One of the comments that he received was concerned with collaborating remotely...
The culture at MS is very F2F-oriented…if you’re out of sight, you have to work hard not to be out of mind.
I found it interesting that Jon's response mentions "flow"...
On the one hand, I’ve learned that I can accomplish a lot because I spend an abormal percentage of my waking hours in flow rather than in meetings. I’ve also learned that network-mediated interactions can be more productive than F2F interactions. Consider my August screencast with Jim Hugunin, or my May screencast with Anders Hejlsberg, or indeed any of the other screencasts in that series. They’re all scheduled events, mediated by telephone and screensharing. I can’t see how physical colocation would improve them.
Well put. Best of luck to you Jon!
Video Conference Highlights - Michael Verdi - Lessons Learned
Baja California is teaming with activity. From the beaches to the mountains, Baja is all beautiful desert, teaming with life and color. And people too, of course. From the Baja 1000 race teams to the small teams of people working together in Internet cafes and what are unmistakably "nodes". As in the Node101 variety.
There was also an Outhink team exploring both the Pacific and Sea of Cortez sides of the two Mexican states. Markus and Alicia drove down from Ojai to Loretto, where they met up with Dave, who flew in from San Jose, in (Alta) California, USA. From there, the Outhinkers drove back up through Mulege, San Ignacio, Guearro Negro, San Quintin and other points north back to Ensenada and then down again to San Fillipe. After a few days there, we all headed back by way of Mexicali.
We scouted a number of interesting locations and captured a LOT of audio and video. Internet access in Baja is, shall we say, challanging at times. When you do find access, wi-fi may not be available and, it often seems, laptops are NOT always welcome. Lots of great lessons in distributed media production.
Here's a little video mash-up of some of the many clips we captured and now need to archive. The music is called CooCoo CooCooRoo and was performed by Tito in the town of San Ignacio.
Hello to ACM from Jay Dedman
Spinflow Series::Tracing the Spiral of Inspiration
One of the things I love about this interview with Anders Clerwall is his candor about the discomfort he finds in collaboration. I had no idea he felt that way since his first musical response to the mere suggestion that Road Node 101 needed a theme song arrived within twenty-four hours.
It is the immediacy of the impulse and action that particularly interest me.
Anders easily mentions every major emotional point upon which folks typically get hung up in trying to climb into the collaborative process. The good news is that there are exercises to get over these nasty barbs of ego, expectation and control.
As with all the interviewees so far, my only question to Anders Clerwall was, "Tell me about the moment you knew you would act to create something for Road Node 101."
Making media with remote subjects involves a great lot of interviewer flexibility since everyone's got a different setup and level of technical capacity. Because I wanted Anders' fresh, unedited response, we settled how we'd record his side of the conversation before the question was mentioned. Anders chose to videotape his answer without me 'there' except to the extent that we kept an iChat channel open between us. Needless to say, once he said he was about to set about recording, I kept my iChat mouth shut so I shouldn't risk ruining a good take.
Anders also chose the method of transmission of the compressed / unedited interview, and that choice was to upload the footage via FTP to one of his own hosts since his firewall settings had changed and he was unable to connect to SpinXpress without effort. Aw! I hate when that happens.
It makes sense that in the event of even a scant bit of frustration users will default to Plan B, or Plan C, or invent another plan altogether. Most important throughout the collaborative process is to maintain FLOW.
You'll hear behind the interview two versions of the Road Node 101 Theme song; a first draft and the finished version, written by Anders Clerwall and eventually performed with Max and Alex Ward. These musical elements were originally shared with SpinXpress to great effect. When it works, it works.
After our recent collaboration using SpinXpress Joel Carner wrote, "I love it! I love it! The interview is great...and I love SpinXpress, that we can view the viewos and share online will help collaboration efforts everywhere!"
I'm just saying.
Collaborate Using SpinXpress
I've been working on a process for use on the Alive In Baghdad project that will allow us to transfer high quality video across the Internet. In this way, Brian (in Boston) can select 15 - 30 minutes of video and send it me (in San Antonio) in a few hours saving us the time and expense of sending tapes via Fedex.
Basically, the process involves compressing a high bit rate QuickTime movie (2000 - 2200 kbps) and then sending it directly from one computer to another using SpinXpress. I've documented the process, including the compression settings, on our wiki and created this screencast that takes you through the first part of the process; installing and setting up SpinXpress.
The end of my write up on the wiki includes some ideas for streamlining the process that I hope to get worked into new versions of SpinXpress. So I'd love to hear what your ideas are. What problems do you face collaborating with people over the Internet? What type of tools would make that easier?