Tuesday, June 26, 2012

On Air Hangouts - Google Game Changer

Kristopher Hite - New York

In the last several weeks I have watched various online companies scramble to get in on a new game changing technology - live On Air web video conferencing. The winner by a mile is Google. 

The newish free service is the ability to watch or participate in live video conferences with the greatest minds of our time. The inherent transparency is worthy of high praise as the service is now available to any person with a Gmail account. It is just a matter of time before the masses start coming online as I feel the service has come to a tipping point of sorts.

As it is currently set up there can be up to ten people participating in a live video conference. The speaker on the main stage is put there automatically when the sound of their voice is detected via their microphone. The whole set up takes about 5 minutes to get used to but quickly feels very natural.  

I predict the ubiquity of these conferences will grow exponentially in the coming weeks and soon change, once again, the way we interact with the world. Before this innovation most content on the web followed the old publishing paradigm. Content was static and came to us in distinct consumable packages. Now ideas are more malleable and participatory than ever. Anyone with an interest in a topic can weigh in if they have a good internet connection. 

Meritocracy rising. 

Though the web (blogs especially) have been an extremely dynamic medium of permissionless innovation, this new tweak of technology will usher in a new era. Now thought-casters will have more of their phenotype up on the web to work with. Mind, voice, smile, eyes. Those people who are good communicators will rise according to their talents more than just their luck at getting in the game early or knowing the right people in the publishing business.  I am so utterly enthused to see a new meritocracy unfurl.

From a publisher's perspective it will be the people who bring you the most timely lists of the upcoming On Air Google hangouts. Say a discussion of the Personal Genome Project (which I recently signed up for) with Jonathan Eisen, George Church, and Steven Pinker, or a discussion of the meaning of "Free Will" with Dan Dennet, Sam Harris, and Harold Varmus. These are fictitious live discussions I just made up but would be unbelievable to see happen.  I hope Tom Paine's Ghost can be a resource for you to find portals to these discussions and a forum for follow up discussions.

I am going to try and get in on the second-ever Pharyngula On Air Hangout this Saturday June 30th at 11 AM Eastern time. Bully to PZ Myers for embracing and popularizing this new feature of Google+.  If I am not a participant I can at least watch and comment and so can you. I do hope this sets a precedent and that these events become publicized! If you know any good resources out there already alerting us to the URLs and times of said events please leave links in the comments.

May the dialogue continue!

"Plato is right; thought is dialogue, people in lively discussion, not Rodin’s isolated Cartesian." 
     ~Bernard Rollin PhD


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