Saturday, February 25, 2006

Blog + Chat = BlogCom?

Back in the days of the Internet boom, I ran a weekly chat session about Business on the Web and Sudha Jamthe ran an organization of entrepreneurs and would-be entrepreneurs (Web-Net) that met face-to-face at MIT. Now we’re both feeling a bit nostalgic for those days — the personal networking, the fast inspiring exchange of ideas. And Sudha has come up with the notion that maybe we could combine the capabilities of a blog with those of chat and use such a beast (tentatively call “BlogCom”, suggesting community, communication, and dot-com) to build a new online community that would share insights into what is happening business-wise on the Web. If we can get it going, we’d probably (as I used to do with my chats and as Sudha used to do with Web-net), invite “speakers” to tell us about interesting new projects and products and business models.

Please take a glance at my old article about possible business use of online chat at http://www.samizdat.com/events.html and transcripts of our old chat sessions (which ran from June 1996 to November 2003 at http://www.samizdat.com/chat.html
First we need the right kind of online environment.

In our email correspondence discussing this idea, Sudha asked about what capabilities we would need. I replied, “I believe we will be trying to build an on-line community of some sort, consisting of people who have little or no connection with one another other than the blog/chat. And the transcript is likely to be more important than the live audience. And we have no need for video or audio.

“Ideally, I’d like to be able to go to an ordinary blog (like my WordPress one), and rather than posting an item or a response to an item, open a chat that anyone (or members only) can join in, and have the transcript automatically saved so it becomes an item in the blog. It might be an alternative to “comment/reply”, with the main item being an announcement explaining the purpose of the chat session and and the topic and who is expected to attend. The code for that could probably be done as a “plug-in” to WordPress. I wouldn’t spend much effort on management controls. The chat could be free-for-all. In all probability most sessions would have fewer than 10 active participants; but we’d like to be able to accommodate as many as 50 or 100 simultaneous passive participants. Automatically saving the transcript would be important. And it would also be important that everyone connected to that blog item could see live updates of the chat text, without having to repeatedly “refresh”. It would also be good if everyone who is a member of the blog could automatically receive a chat alert email half an hour before a scheduled chat.

“I doubt that there’s anything like that now.”

Sudha replied, “Good idea. lets start a blog with the message that we are opening up an online community like the one we did with chat in 95/96 and link to the transcripts for people to get an idea.

“My thoughts on requirements are exactly same. Blog should archive. We should be able to all type up comments 10 to 50 people. Those who can’t make it should be able to leave their comments. Everyone shd see everything. All archived in the edit. We can edit it to get it cleaned up matching context of different responses and maybe write an analysis if we feel like.
“I really like jybe idea, it says you signup and everyone can see the same browser as everyone types. That way we can see product demos if some invited guest is showing something. Thats a requirement, to be able to see some product demos. Or maybe we can just open parallel browser windows and do it, thats ok.

“I am excited!!!! Want to brainstorm some topics and bring couple experts at the same time and promote it to offline groups. That way, we can build initital momentum.
“Feel free to post my thoughts on the blog and invite discussions. The market will lead us as always )

Is anyone out there interested? Does anyone know of a blog-plugin or standalone software that could help make this work the way we’d like it to? Other suggestions?

Richard Seltzer

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