where "word of keystroke" begins

May 10, 2001 -- Experimenting with voice discussion, part 2 Telcopoint

Transcript of the live chat session that took place Thursday, May 10, 2001. These sessions are normally scheduled for 12 noon-1 PM US Eastern Time on Thursdays (when we are on standard time that is GMT -5; on daylight savings time, that is GMT -4).

To connect to the chat room, go to

Since the chat itself happens at a rapid pace, it's often difficult to note interesting facts and URLs as they appear live. Here's a place to take a more leisurely look. I've rearranged some of the pieces to try to capture the various threads of discussion (which sometimes get lost in the rush of live chat).

Please send email with your follow-on questions and comments, and suggestions for topics we should focus on in future sessions. So long as the volume of email responses is manageable, I'll post the most pertinent ones here for all to see.

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This is one of the longest-running chat programs on the Web. (Please let us know if you know of ones that are older.) We've been doing this since June 1996.

For transcripts of previous sessions and a list of future topics,

For an article on how to make "business chat" work (based on this experience),

For articles on topics related to this one, check our newsletter, Internet-on-a-Disk

Threads (reconstructed after the fact):

Today's Participants People who sent related email messages:

Summary of discussion

We started at, using the links there to connect to our regular text chat room (at SiteScape) and to the voice chat room at Telcopoint that we were testing. While text chat (especially the SiteScape implementation) can allow you to save the transcript, with voice chat all is lost except what you manage to scribble in the rush of the discussion. In this case, most of the discussion -- and certainly the best of it -- took place in voice chat; and hence much of what was said has been lost.

Steve Eskrow emphasized that while there might be educational uses for this application (Telcopoint's free hosted version of HearMe), it really isn't ready for prime time. He suggested that this might be useful for counselling and intimacy, but not for larger groups, and not for real content-related course work

Bob Zwick noted the importance of protocols for getting the most out of voice chat. The rules you set and how well you enforce them determines how many people you can manage.

We were using PC Voice Chat from  "Telcopoint provides a turn key voice chat application, scalable  from a two party private call to a site sponsering dozens of chat rooms with hundreds of users. Best of all you can start using these chat rooms right now, FOR FREE!" Implementation is easy. When you sign up, you indicate which pages (up to five) you are going to put voice chat links on. The link itself is the same in all cases. When someone connects, Telcopoint makes the match between the originating page and the particular chat room.


Strengths: Weaknesses: Other observation: The consensus seemed to be that the free version of this particular app was not good enough for prime time, we wanted to test others. Suggestions are welcome. I'm also interested in testing and learning about auditorium-style chat applications (both text and voice).

Voice possibilities:
roger wilco from (currently being used in distance ed for the blind)
other resources listed at
others that used to be in this business but I can't reach today: firetalk, getgooey

Auditorium-style possibilities:

Keep in mind that you can pay for additional capabilities from Telcopoint. For a price, you could have the tools necessary for moderation, you could have some of your participants dial in by ordinary telephone, and you could handle more simultaneous users. We had about a dozen simultaneous users for our experiment, but the number of users did not appear to be the source of our most annoying problems -- voices breaking up and messages going unheard, randomly. Here are the marketing descriptions of the paid services, as they appear at the Telco site:

"Telcopoint has created a series of standard packages designed to grow as your web site grows. These packages, detailed below, are organized in incremental increases of number of users and number of chat rooms you can create. Also available is the ability for you to act as a "Chat Master" and let you moderate your rooms. If you have users that want to chat when they are away from their PC, no problem. Sign up for our phone in services; they can join the conversation via the 800 or 900 numbers you select, and best of all YOU MAKE MONEY!

"We are constantly coming up with innovative new products and services designed to enhance your site and your users' voice experience. Please check back here frequently and see what we have come up with. We would also love to hear your suggestions for new services, please send us your thoughts to

"Adding Moderator capability to your chat service gives you the ability to act as the Chat Master.

"You will be able to: Kick Users, Ignore Users, Mute Users, Ban Users, Choose the active speaker(s).

"Moderator - Moderate all your chat rooms for $500 per month..."

"Increase Number of Rooms and Number of Users

"Telcopoint has created a number of Packages you can select to increase the number of chat rooms available to you and to increase the number of users* that can be on line at the same time.

"Simply select a Package, name your new rooms and you will be off and running.

"Package A - Includes 5 additional chat rooms, for a total of 10 rooms and 100 users*
For $ 750 per month ($15 per user x 50 added users)

"Package B - Includes 10 additional chat rooms, for a total of 15 rooms and 150 users*
For $1,300 per month ($13 per user x 100 added users)

"Package C - Includes 15 additional chat rooms, for a total of 20 rooms and 200 users*
For $1,650 per month ($11 per user x 150 added users)

"Package T - Our ultimate chat pack, includes 20 additional chat rooms, for a total of 25 rooms and 250 users* plus Moderation (Chat Master) for all rooms a $3,000 value

"For $2,500 per month (10 per user x 200 added users) + Moderation (a $1,000 per month value)

"*= A user is defined as someone logged into the chat room, therefore the 100 user package means you can have 100 of your members using chat at the same time. There is no limit to how many users can download the client or use chat. You are only limited by total simultaneous user count.

"Your total number of simultaneous users can be spread out among all of your chat rooms or can all be in one room, as long as the total does not exceed the Package limit."

"Phone In Capability

"Telcopoint has created a Voice over IP network that will allow your users to call into your voice chat rooms when they are away from their PC and lets you make money. You can select 800 or 900 numbers for one or all of your chat rooms. Each individual chat room must have its own unique phone number.

"For 800 phone in service, Telcopoint will bill you, the Webmaster, $0.10 per minute. You will be billed to the credit card you provide at the conclusion of each call. What you bill your users is up to you! On the last day of each month, Telcopoint will provide you will a detailed accounting of all calls. These call detail records can then facilitate you billing your users.

"For 900 phone in service, Telcopoint through our Long Distance partner and the local phone company will bill your user directly. These charges will appear on your users' phone bill. At the end of each billing cycle Telcopoint will pay you, the Webmaster, 20% of what revenue was generated from your end user.

"For additional information on the above services,
please email us at"

Transcript from the text chat room

People moved in and out of the text chat room, leaving here information that might be useful for future reference.


Richard Seltzer: Please introduce yourselves here and let us know your interests. Here what you say is saved in the transcript. Then open a second browser window, go to and click on the Telcopoint link to get to the voice chat room that we want to test today.

Jim K: I am a student of distance education am trying to figur out what is available for starting some projects in Latin America

Richard Seltzer: Welcome, Steve. Please introduce yourself and then open a second browser window and move to the voice chat.

Alan Selig: (old) grad student in Kansas. I'm interested in the potential of voice communication for Dist. Ed. I have no prior  experience with it, so this is a brand new experience today for me.

Steve Eskow: one of my interests is learning whether a moderately literate computer user like me can avoid confusion.
For example: how do I open a second browser window, or otherwise get to the voice chat room without losing this page?

Alan Selig: I'm like Steve, still not sure how to get to the voice chat.

Bob Zwick: Steve you need to open a NEW separate window and then goto the page.

mlyle: Hi Richard! My email is I am involved as a student with an internship program that is helping to research collaboration tools for the Universitiy's Distance Education program for next fall. Thanks. Would appreciate any information that you could give us about your program

Alan Wiener:  Greetings... I'm Alan Wiener and have just joined you.

Alan Wiener: I am a mediator, and particularly interested in Online Dispute Resolution. I am here to see whether this tool might be useful in my work.

Anne:  After making real voice contact with Richard Seltzer, we decided  that I'd introduce myself this way! I am head teacher of distance ed at Language Services Interverbum in Stockholm, Sweden. I heard about this voice chat through DEOS, where I lurk regularly! We haven't used voice chat in our courses yet, which is why I am here today. We have however used Centra (both Symposium and Conference).

Asif Raza: My email is I see that Anne is in Sweden, is there anyone else here outside of the USA?

Anne in Sweden

Richard Seltzer: Anne -- What is Language Services Interverbum? Is it a language school? And do you use the Web to connect students with native speakers for practice? Or is that a direction you are thinking of heading in?

Richard Seltzer:  I've been asked to help evaluate real-time tools (mostly auditorium style) for an upcoming online course to be offered by the Kennedy School of Government. Recommendations welcome.

Bob Zwick: Consider looking at - very reasonably priced and feature full.

Richard Seltzer: Anne, can you tell me about Centra please? Is that an auditorium style text chat environment? Or what is it?

Anne: Centra is a real time communication platform with a graphical interface.

Richard Seltzer: Is Centra text-chat only? Or do they have voice as well? And for text chat do they do it auditorium style (for hundreds of participants) or peer-to-peer, like this?

Anne: Language Services is a company which provides language training, translation, interpreting and localisation. We use Centra (ie the Web) to connect students with teachers, who are native speakers. We talk to each other, using mics (and pressing control) but there is also a text chat option and a whiteboard, and the provision to share documents. It's pretty good actually.

Technical difficulties and limitations

Alan Selig:  I'm still stuck in "text land." What's the URL for the voice chat room? Or do I get there in some other fashion?

hibbs pc: steve, you should be able to open a new window, then click on the link to the telephony link telecopoint. I would suggest exiting the chat room and re entering from the original page, get the audio and then return to this room

Bob Zwick:  I heard John without any breakup - seems like the quality varies for individuals depending in their bandwidth

hibbs pc: bob, i did all that but still dont get those damn buttons to show up.  keep in mind i am on a cable modem. the more I experiment with telephony, the more I like telephone. I hear everything just fine

Chris:  does this work on a Mac?

Bob Zwick: Chris - I believe the text chat qworks ok on a Mac - John Hibbs is using a Mac

 hibbs pc: no, this does not work on a mac. or better said, it doesnt work as well as on a can't adjust the screen to read the text above it

Bob Zwick: oops - I stand corrected :-)

Chris: sorry to hear that... I'll be heading out then... the text works OK, but since the whole idea is to experiment with        voice chat, I'm not sure how much I'd get out of this..

hibbs pc: i am now typing fom a p.c. my mac which I love won't cooperate.

hibbs pc: I am rying to convince Richard we should hold these in multi city

Bob Zwick: MultiCity opens up language translation for text !!!!

Richard Seltzer: Chris -- can you connect to the voice chat room? just go to and click on the telcopoint link.

Chris:  I'll try.. gimme a second...  It doesn't work with IE5, but I'll try it now in Netscape 4.7...   Yup, the plug-in is only for Win32 machines

 hibbs pc:  i am in the voice room in navigator and in this room in explorer...  you can control the people who can talk, or at least you could...  the moderator MUST conrol the speakers!! and I think you can control the function...

Bob Zwick: sometimes there is a delay in which voice comes through

hibbs pc: yes, the voice quality depends on traffic over the net as well

Anne: Richard! Can I ask two question in the voice chat, because I have to leave the office and I can't seem to get a word in!

Bob Zwick: Anne - can you type your question here and let Richard answer on voice

Richard Seltzer: Anne -- please go ahead and ask.

Anne: If everyone stops talking for 30 secs I think I'll be able to speak!

Bob Zwick: I think so too Anne - but it is too uncontrolled at this point

Anne: My questions/comments are:

This has been interesting though!

Richard Seltzer: Thanks. I'll have to check Centra soon.

Jim K:  I think it is good to have a moderator that gives the mic. We need to use the chat room to ask for the mic

hibbs pc: richard, if you will take charge of the phone and moderate the discussion

Anne: JimK, I agree, but the problem is that even when you "ask for the mic" the moderator can't "give" it to you if there are too many others trying to talk at the same time. the delay and the quality is much worse when there are more people online.

 hibbs pc: where are you Anne? I did not hear that well??

Anne: John, I am in Sweden!

hibbs pc:  whoops,now no sound at all?

hibbs pc: all makes for the regular telephone? though how many have two lines?

Anne:  John Hibbs is asking me to continue speaking about 3 minutes after I spoke! I can only assume there's a longer dealy the more people there are in the voice chat room

Asif Raza -- I noticed that some of us have profiles and others don't.

hibbs pc: now, i got kicked out of the telephone room, and recnnecting.

Bob Zwick: In the TelcoPoint chat room all [typed] messages can be saved. You will automatically be promted to save them when you click the Hang Up button.

Alan Wiener: This is Alan Wiener. I have tried to chime in a couple times, but you don't seem able to hear me. Any suggestions?

Bob Zwick: Alan - you have to be persistant holding the CTRL key when others are not talking.

Alan Wiener:  Thanks, Bob. I have been trying that, and will continue when there are pauses.

hibbs pc: the good thing about the telephone is that long distance charges can be cheap, we can evdn mconnect the telephony to the voice telephone room

Bob Zwick: Everyone - I think this session is exploratory. We are trying to determine the usefulness of audio and how and when to use it.

Anne:  Actually, I suspect that holding down the control key causes these weird delays. It would work better if only 1 person could speak at a time (or if you limited the number of people participating.)

Bob Zwick: Yes Anne - there should be ONE speaker and the rest in the audio listening.

Jim K: The voice chat went dead and I can't get back on

Alan Wiener: Anne, I could hear you "trying to get in" loud and clear.

Bob Zwick: Audio like this can be usefull as a one on one consultation between teacher and student.

Alan Selig: Anne: I can hear you when you try to get in, and others try to respond, but you apparently are not hearing it.

Bob Zwick: The free version guarantess no specific #. Pay scaled versions guarantee 100 or 250 connections.

Alan Selig: I haven't been successful in getting a voice submission through. Listening to the general conversation, however, gives me one idea. I think the program would benefit from some kind of indicator for a person wanting to make a comment (similar to raising my hand in class.) That would avoid the problem with voices running over each other.

Jim K: Centra has the hand raising feature

Anne: Good bye everyone! I'll "meet" you all in DEOS again, and watch out for the next voice chat session.

HibbspcExplorer: i could not get into the telephony room

Bob Zwick:  Did you get a too many participants in room ?

HibbspcExplorer: bob, did you get kicked out of the telephony room?

 Jim K: When I try to get back in it says server no longer authorized or something like that. Did time run out?

 Bob Zwick: No - if you did not click the Hang Up button you may be logged in too many times

Alan Wiener: I have held down the control key and trying to speak, but apparently no one can hear.

Jim K: It just went dead and I couldn't hang up

Bob Zwick: could be a software conflict in your system

Jim K: It worked fine for about 15 minutes

HibbspcExplorer:  Jimk I am having the same experience

Jim K: I have to go but I would like to be informed of other experiments to try stuff. my email is Thanks everybody

Bob Zwick: Anyone interested in testing this Hearme chat one on one can contact me at schedule through

Alan Selig: I've been listening carefully, since I can't seem to get a voice connection going at my end. Every once in a while the audio just cuts out. Then it comes back after a short pause. I'm wondering if that is because my computers buffer memory is filling up. I'm using a 700 MHZ system. Is there a minimum capacity for a system to be able to use this well?

Bob Zwick: Alan - the interuptions are probably not at your end. There are a lot of internet routing and bandwidth issues that cause them.

Alan Wiener: I've been listening also, but unable to get my voice in. As Steve Eskow indicates, this is discouraging.

 Alan Selig: Signing off! It's been fun, in a frustrating/novice sort of way. My email is I'll be interested in further attempts of this sort.

mlyle: I would like to have a head's up about futher testing on collaboraion software for next week. Please let me know the time and place. Thanks.

Related email messages

Handling comments with Web Organic
From: "Julie Gibson" <>
Date: Wednesday, May 02, 2001 9:49 PM

Some colleagues and i have developed some software that allows web pages to accept input from people directly (or
moderated) and I thought that you might be interested. please don't be put off by the graphical and businessy look - that's just another attempt by us to get commercial when we're not yet or maybe ever.
Julie Gibson
Sydney, Australia

Voice over IP
From: "Lesley Shield" <>
Date: Thursday, May 10, 2001 10:27 AM

I read your announcement re HearMe on DEOS-L with interest.  If you don't know about the work we've been doing with voice over IP for the last few years, you might like to look at some of the papers at:

The audiographics client decribed is also being used elsewhere in the university.

Best wishes,

Lesley Shield
Sub-Dean Learning and Teaching Technologies
Faculty of Education and Language Studies
The Open University, UK

Date: Thursday, May 10, 2001 11:00 AM

That was quick!  Unfortunately, the audiographics client isn't commercially available as it's a product developed in-house here, but we did start off by using VoxChat which was.  Sadly, that is now defunct.  However, we do have quite a lot of experience now in using voice over IP and my colleagues have been gaining substantial experience in using this sort of application to work with distance learners.

I'll try to login for the chat, but I'm doing 3 hours or so of online training this evening, so am trying not to spend too long at the keyboard this afternoon.

If you have any questions about our experience/the content of the articles, do, please, feel free to contact me.

Best wishes,


Date: Friday, May 11, 2001 4:49 AM


I'm sorry I didn't manage to get online for the chat last night.  I would have loved to have taken part.  Unfortunately, I had to do some online training, as I mentioned and time rather ran away with me!

Best wishes,


Participant in Uruguay
From: "Alicia Barbitta" <>
Date: Thursday, May 10, 2001 12:43 PM


It' 1.40pm in Uruguay and I cannot enter the Telcopoint chat.

One image on the left did not let me so.

Are you doing it now?

Alicia Barbitta
Corporate English Courses -Montevideo - URUGUAY - NOW A SUPPORT AREA AVAILABLE TO EVERYBODY -

Participant in Argentina
From: "Graciela Pascual" <>
Date: Friday, May 11, 2001 2:30 AM

I'm very, very sorry to have missed this 'meeting' for which we got silver Platter Invitations...!!!  But this wasn't the best day.  It was exam day for me so I left home at 9 this morning and came back at 8:40 pm!!!  Needless to say, I'm exhausted...

I just checked mail and found this. Perhaps someone wants to tell be what happened and what an interesting conversation you had!  If I got it right, one can also go to the site and see the scripts?
Did the lady from Uruguay join in?

Sorry guys, hope I'm luckier next time.

e-Dial bites the dust
From: "John Hibbs" <>
Date: Friday, May 11, 2001 12:18 PM

A whole bunch of those freebies from the dot dumb world are about to
quit...or have, including the freebies.  Not sure how much longer the
telcopoint site will last, but we found it nice yesterday..well, not
THAT nice.
>Dear eDial Customer:
>We are excited to inform you of our new corporate direction. However,
>regrettably, this change in direction will necessitate the end of the eDial
>Effective May 22, 2001, eDial, Inc., in accordance with the terms and
>conditions posted on our website, will no longer be offering service...

Previous transcripts and schedule of upcoming chats --

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