Whooshup Reorganization

To reflect what this blog has become, the format has changed to emphasize the enormous number of useful links to resources we provide. To go to the whooshup blog and conversations about these resources, just scroll to the bottom of the lists of resources!

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Texting and Voice Dilemma

I've attended the last two meetings as someone who was only able to text. Like the Judaic- Christian and Greek traditions, I'm not sure text and voice can be reconciled in a way which will allow us to meet and discuss productively.

The people at the meetings have been trying earnestly to combine both but it just seems as if the two mediums refuse to jell. This has led me to wonder if, maybe, we couldn't have meetings set up just for text and ones for voice?

Those of us who are currently restricted to text could still attend the voice meetings with the obvious limitation of not being able to participate. But we could submit questions beforehand to those who are voice enabled if we would like. By limiting some meetings only to voice they could be more wide ranging and free flowing. As Karl would say, things could "whoosh up." This seems to be what Dreyfus would definately prefer.

I think text only meetings would need to be limited to specific topics. We could possibly meet to discuss the latest podcasts only. If anyone would like to pursue another topic, they could post here on the blog and see if anyone would be interested in meeting. Though not ideal, some sort of protocol will need to be developed that would help those of us using text to keep on track. It is hard to follow (for me at least) more than one topic at a time while using text.

I'm tossing these ideas out here so they can either be refined or lead to a discussion that will allow us to discover the optimal way to proceed. The meetings have such great potential, we just need to find a way to get all of this technical stuff into the background.



Beads Land said...

I'm wondering how many of our participants have cell phones with free long distance calling, that a free conference calling service might be practical (without imposing the requirement of hardware and Internet connection capacity that even Skype would entail).

Text-only discussions have long ago lost their glamour for me (even posting to this blog is something I do with reservations), and I expect that, other than listening in on Dreyfus's thoughts on those occasions that he does venture into SL, I will not be making much further use of that platform.

foundrysmith said...

Good comments all!

We had a virtual Pot Luck Wednesday night in Second Life, and made a lot of progress with a voice enabled discussion. We found that with a combination of proper hardware (a $25 microphone/headset or equivalent for example) and some persistence tuning the software settings on both one's computer operating system and within the Second Life interface, we were able to interact much as if we were in a room together. So the good news is that the technical challenges can be solved, and with a minimum investment of time and expense. We also found that by chatting via text or talking each other through the various menu options, we were able to adjust our settings such that we could hear each other reasonably well. Those without microphones or other technical issues could usually hear, but couldn't join in with voice, so typically they posed their questions in the chat box. It was not easy for me to follow both the online chat and the voice discussions simultaneously (at least if you were voice enabled like myself), and seemingly frustrating also for the voiceless participants who relied exclusively on the chat bar. Consequently, we found that the voice enabled needed to become voiceless, and follow the conversation in chat mode to participate effectively at that level.

In my opinion, it was the bias of those who could speak and be heard through their headsets that this was the more realistic discussion model that we were seeking in a Second Life discussion section. On the other hand, it seemed to be the bias of the voiceless that the chat bar was the preferred medium for the exchange of ideas. As G. K. Chesterton once remarked, "She didn't like being dictated to, so she became a typist". There certainly seems to be a culture where Instant Messaging within groups via the keyboard is the norm, for after all, "Custom is our nature". The point should be made that there were some participants with a microphone who chose not to use it. Clearly it will be both a technological and philosophical challenge to meet in the middle!

We are looking forward to a good turnout this Saturday night, some of us will show up early to help others set their headsets/microphones so they can participate in the conversation by whatever means at their disposal.

foundrysmith said...

There are a number of things in addition to what is in the FAQ's that you may do to adjust your computer to enable and enhance voice communication in the Second Life environment. I have also found that plugging my computer directly into the Internet, and bypassing any home based router solves a lot of issues in Second Life and elsewhere!

1) If you are running Microsoft Windows, you can go from Start Menu > Control Panel > Sounds and Devices - to bring you to a Volume setting. You will find a number of sliders here that you can use to adjust the audio input and output on your headset.

2) To see how your system is performing once you are in Second Life, we found that by going to View > Statistics - will pop up a window which will looks like something out of the emergency Room. It will show you your fps (frames per second), bandwidth usage and packet loss. By checking these values against the other users, you may be able to improve your systems performance, by some of the following:

3)Edit > Preferences >Audio & Video - at the bottom of the screen, there are several buttons that can be toggled for the default upload bit rate. We found that by increasing this, we could hear each other better in some cases. You usually have to click on apply once you have made a change

4) Edit >Preferences > Advanced Graphics - Setting the Graphics Card memory low may also help improve the audio quality by reducing system loads

5) Edit > Preferences > Graphics Detail - Limit as much here as you can. As you deselect many of these options, watch your Statistics bar, and see how your system's performance improves! If you do nothing else here, make sure you select the Terrain Detail to Low

These are just a few things you can try, and we will be happy to talk or chat you through until you are coming in as clear as Farnsworth Roux! And I am sure there will be more tricks to add to the toolbox as we go along.

Cathy said...

I could do a conference call.

my dilemma is Saturday night at 8:00 is typically not the best time. Still, I am very interested in the discussion, so when I can show, I will try.

Many other times would work for me, but perhaps not others. Has anyone thought of Sunday nights instead of Saturday nights?