Robin Good writes about “the future of real-time conferencing”:
When I talk about contextual collaboration I intend to describe the concept of online collaboration in which real-time features are a built-in components of a standard application and where no one has to leave his production tool in order to share, send or collaborate with others at-a-distance.
Some of the typical components of Contextual Collaboration are:
a) Presence awareness – this is normally confused with instant messaging. Presence awareness is indeed a specific functionality of typical instant messaging clients allowing and making possible the actual instant messaging functionality. The ability to “see” and be able to reach out to direct contacts, friends and team-mates is in my opinion at the very core of online collaboration.
b) Conversation – this is the ability to talk, exchange and discuss as smoothly and transparently as possible. VoIP is the preferred route. Text chat can be an alternative. Asynchronous discussion threads a further road nearby.
c) Object sharing – to collaborate we need to be able to share and exchange document, tools, information. The ability to share any of these with ease and immediacy is of essence to the task of effectively replicating our long-formed expectations for working together.
d) Shared workspaces – we don’t collaborate suspended in the air. Like in physical space we normally need a bare minimum of a facility to carry out our work. A minimum of a desk, a set of archival drawers, writing and editing tools and whatever we feel needed for the type of collaboration at hand. A collaborative space is the necessary environment to carry out work with the needed basic support facilities.
Indeed, as only few real-time collaboration companies seem to have understood so far, instant messaging may be the very best pivot point around which to build effective collaboration and meeting opportunities.