Transaction Net

Web Conferencing

Welcome to the Transaction Net conferencing system! Once you're signed up, just come on in, introduce yourself, and join the conversation.

Sign up here for your username and password, then

  Enter The Money Conference

About Web Conferencing Reviews of Conferencing Systems Places Where We Conference Enter the Transaction Net Conferences

About Web Conferencing

A few definitions:

Conferences
Discussion areas dedicated to a particular subject where participants can post questions or comments. The threads of the conversation persist so that others who visit the system later will be able to follow and take part in the evolving conversation.

Real-Time Chat Forums
Temporary spaces where all participants' comments appear simultaneously as they are typed. Chat forums often feature a special guest (see for example this transcript of A screenside chat with Mayor Willie Brown).

Newsgroups
Ongoing discussions, served by a newsserver, which can be called up and read by a newsreader. Generally the term refers to "Usenet" which is publicly accessible and distributed, but private newsgroups can also created to which access is restricted, or which run only on a local network.

Conferencing not only allows people to exchange information, but it also automatically builds an up-to-the-minute text-based knowledge base for future visitors to consult. Because the information doesn't fade away as users come and go, structure and flow within the conferencing system become very important.

Confererencing with Motet

One of the strengths of Motet is that it provides both a comforting, logical structure as well as convenient shortcuts around that structure. The hierarchy of conversation spaces makes it easy for visitors to navigate efficiently to and through interesting areas, while nonlinear trapdoors make it easier to jump around within the structure.

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Reviews of Web Conferencing Systems

Community Attempting to Connect

This page is dedicated to ongoing conferencing systems everywhere, because we know how much time and energy it takes to uphold the conversation, to organize how it will flow, and decide who will be responsible for helping it along. Unlike real-time chats, where everyone's posts appear at once before they're washed away, successful conferencing systems weave together an evolving tapestry of threads, some of which stay relevant for years. Because someone needs to keep these long threads from getting tangled or split, your efforts toward planning, massaging, and hosting are even more important than which particular conferencing system or forum you end up using.

There's a delicate balance between structure and flow which allows community to thrive and grow organically. It's hard to calculate exactly which recipe of features will yield this balance, but experience and time prove what works.

We're currently most impressed by Motet, a system maintained by Bryan Higgins and Leha Blaney, for organizations serious about creating a thriving web-based conferencing system. Bryan designed Motet to include many of picospan's better features, such as public and private conferences, ignoring individual topics, and a bozo-filter to shield individuals from those participants whose posts they would prefer not to read. Motet appears to be the easiest system to maintain, and at this point, Bryan is doing all the installs and service himself. The interface is outstanding. Motet is used by The Gate, the combined web site of the San Francisco Examiner and the San Francisco Chronicle. John Coate (tex@well.com), project manager at the Gate, was the conferencing director at the Well for the first 6 years of its existence, and wrote the classic Cyberspace Innkeeping: Building Online Community which is required reading for anyone interested in online conferencing. If you attempt to start a conferencing system without understanding what he's talking about, you are destined to fail. Another fine site using Motet is The Utne Reader.

Thanks to Bryan's generous offer of space and expertise, a few Transaction Net conferences are up and running: register here to visit The Money Conference, where we're comparing insights on all kinds of money systems in order to coauthor some recipes for new and improved exchange media. The Beyond Greed and Scarcity conference, devoted to economist Bernard Lietaer's forthcoming book, will re-open later this year when the final version of the book is available in print.

Other less versatile web-based conferencing systems include Hotwired's Threads, which doesn't give you the shortcuts and filters Bryan wrote into Motet, and Salon's Tabletalk, running aWeb Crossing ® server, which is limited by its reliance on Apple and Adobe (its sponsors).

David R. Woolley (drwool@well.com) is one of the inventors of Computer Conferencing, and he created what is recognized as the definitive resource about Web-based conferencing. Someday this page may become a complete reference on selecting and applying these systems, but for now, the best sources are (drwool)'s site as well as the sites dedicated to the particular system in question. If you're on the Well, check out the Conferencing on the Web topic in the web conference, where many of the active developers of these systems discuss the state of the art. Engaged, the Well's web front end to picospan (the command line text-based conferencing system written by Marcus Watts in the mid eighties, which many people, most notably Bryan Higgins, Jef Poskanzer, and the rest of the crew from the public software conference, created new features for and maintained), allows you to do this. Picospan is owned by NETI and is not licensed at this point. Jef Poskanzer has recently developed his own web conferencing system, ACME News.

Yapp is an alive and kicking language. We use it over on the River. Dave Thaler the author is actively adapting yapp for the web, and sites such as Gamespot and MacWorld have active forums. It's more difficult to install and maintain than Motet, and it has a relatively clunky feel. Like Caucus (discussed below), it does have a command-line interface.

The Meta Network uses a language called Caucus, which is also used by Echo in New York. Lisa Kimball (lcarlson@well.com) and Stacy Horn (stacy@well.com) have helped build vibrant conferencing communities at these sites, despite the clunkiness and lack of features in this language.

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Places Where We Conference

Watch out--conferencing can be addictive! So far we're hooked up to, and pretty much hooked on, these systems:

About Web Conferencing Reviews of Conferencing Systems Places Where We Conference Enter the Transaction Net Conferences

To join us in The Money Conference, just

  1. Sign up for your unique username and password;

  2. If you like, spend a few minutes on the tutorial to learn how to use Motet's cool features; and

  3. Come on in and introduce yourself--We look forward to seeing you there!

      Enter The Money Conference.

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