where "word of keystroke" begins

August 23, 2001 -- Summary of text-chat platforms tested

Transcript of the live chat session that took place Thursday, August 23, 2001. These sessions are normally scheduled for 12 noon-1 PM US Eastern Time (Standard Time = GMT -5, Daylight Savings Time = GMT -4) on Thursdays.

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.

These sessions are hosted by Richard Seltzer. If you would like to receive email reminders about upcoming sessions, please send email to

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.

In parallel with the chat program, Richard does a 5-minute weekly radio segment on "The Computer Report," which is heard live on WCAP in Lowell, Mass., and is syndicated on WBNW in Boston and WPLM in Plymouth, Mass. He often bases that segment on a recent chat discussion. He will often truns that segment into a weekly article for posting at this site and for distribution to other sites through iSyndicate

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

This chat session was run using, linked to from Bob Zwick's Webshare page


E-School = Bob Zwick in Texas
Richard Seltzer in Boston
Darrell Voth in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada
Paul-R, in Wales
Jim Klaas working with hispanics in Latin America and working on masters in distance education at Athabasca University in Canada
John Smith, in Portland
Rita, in Argentina


<seltzer> Bob -- is there a way to make the chat area fill the screen (as
    with Bravenet)?
<E-School> click room top left button - then float
<seltzer> Okay. I'm slow. Now I see that at the bottom of the screen the
    meaning of the icons appears as I move the cursor.
<E-School> Bear in mind if you FLOAT the chat window - you disconnect your viewing from the rest of Web Teacher
<seltzer> Do I need to see the rest of WEb Teacher? Will we be doing
    everything here? Or do y ou intend to lead us elsewhere as well?
<E-School> Most will be here -
<seltzer> All -- it looks like it's about noon. Shall we get started, officially, Bob? Would you like to give us a quick summary of what we've tested
over the last couple months, and the conclusions you've come to?
<seltzer> Also, Darrell, Paul-R, and Jim Klaas, please introduce yourselves and let us     know your interests.
<JimKlaas> Is there sound on this or are we typing
<seltzer> Bob -- this is just text chat (no sound) right?
<E-School> We will be using voice chat form Paltalk simultaneously. The room there is found under Paltalk-Misecllaneous-E-School
<seltzer> Bob -- Are we supposed to also connect to paltalk? I didn't
    know that and hence didn't mention it in the chat message.
<JohnSmith> What's paltalk?  Are we doing introductions now?
<seltzer> Yes, JohnSmith, please introduce yourself. For details about paltalk see
<seltzer> Bob -- What do you plan to do with paltalk. I see half a dozen
    people are there, but nothing is happening. I think we'd be better off in
    one place rather than two.
<seltzer> Paltalk is great for one-way. But people need warning before
    hand -- paltalk requires download, installation, and fine tuning; and only
    a few of the people here today have done that (I didn't expect this, sorry,
    or I would have included that info in the message.
<seltzer> We're doubly confused because Chataway only let's you see text
    after you login. So your previous mentioned of Paltalk aren't seen by
    new people entering the room.
<E-School> YES Richard all conversation will be here


<Paul-R> Hi, this is Paul, from Wales, UK. I'm interested in a range of
    e-learning technologies, but mainly asynchronous conferencing. Never
    used chat in a serious way before..
<Darrell> Yes. My name is Darrell Voth and I'm from Kelowna BC,
    Canada. I'm an independent business consultant. My interests are in
    distance education and Communications. Interactivity with voice.
<JohnSmith> I'm an independent consultant out of Portland. Main interest
    is in communities of practice. I teach an online workshop with Etienne
    Wenger on CoPs that tries to simulate a CoP from the inside.
<JimKlaas> My name is Jim Klaas. I am working with Hispanics across
    latin America for resourcing in church ministry. I am also doing a
    masters in Distance Education at Athabasca University
<Rita> I'm an EFL teacher in Argentina
I love teaching and using the computer as a tool

Summary of chat rooms tested:

<E-School> I have created a summary document of the chat rooms
    we have tested. Go to and from the pull down menu in the upper left corner, select "Sample Text Chat Rooms". <E-School> the Sample Chat document has links to all the room services we have tested.
<seltzer> Excellent information.
<seltzer> Bob -- I see that all the chat programs you tested were     Java-based. Why? I, for one, hate Java-based chat.
<E-School> Java is most common and free - html requires code on your site
<seltzer> Main limitations of java-based chat -- you only see the text  posted from the time that you logon, and if you get booted, you lose all
    the old text. Also, it is very awkward trying to save transcripts.
<E-School> With Chatway (which is java-based) to save a copy of this chat, all you have to do is right click, then copy all.
<E-School> With Chatway you can left click on one or several lines then RIGHT click to copy only those lines
<seltzer> Bob -- yes, that right click works great. that is definitely superior     to bravenet.
<E-School> there is no Right Ckick on a Mac :(
<JohnSmith> Does the right-click feature work with Netscape? I'm on IE.
    Just wondering.
<E-School> Netscape is not one of my choices, but it may or may not
    work depending on the version of Netscape.
<seltzer> Bob -- also, I don't see Chatway on your chart -- unless ChatSpace is the same as Chatway.
<E-School> Yes, ChatSpace is the software creator. Chatway is a hosted platform using that software.
<JohnSmith> I'm curious as to the population you consider in your survey.  I've been using WebCrossing's chat and been pretty satisfied.  It has a
    nice facility for saving transcripts.
<seltzer> JohnSmith -- is WebCrossing Java or HTML? How do they save transcripts?
<JohnSmith> Web crossing has both: you can switch, depending on  fire-walls, etc.
<E-School> John can you give us a url for WebCrossing ?
<seltzer> JohnSmith -- sounds very interesting. is Web crossing free? or what does it cost?
<JohnSmith> See for a free version.  Of course the free version doesn't let you get at the transcript.  :-(  But Web Crossing
    IS relatively cheap.
<seltzer> JohnSmith -- how cheap?
<JohnSmith> Seltzer, It's a pretty complicated pricing structure: see their website at  They're unusual in that they price per
    thousand pages loaded, so you can use the same software that Oprah  and CNN use, but they pay WAY more.
<Darrell> Does world crossing support voice?
<JohnSmith> Darrell, No, but there's a fellow that's doing some kind of voice add-on.  He was at the conference a few
    weeks ago.
<Darrell> Any category on room size?
<E-School> Room size varies. Parachat & Multicity are unlimited. Chatwat =  1,050 users 20/month
<ajl> What is the difference between Visitor signup Req. and Visitor Registration Req.?
<seltzer> Bob -- I thought bravenet was quite good (see previous transcript). In what ways do you believe Chatway is superior?
<E-School> Better hot links, admin, web tour to individuals     and more make this superior
<seltzer> Bob can you demonstrate those capabilities -- e.g., how can you do hot links and do a web tour for an individual or for a group?
<seltzer> Bob -- also what admin features do you like? (what is there?  these are probably invisible unless your created the room).
<E-School> Richard - all of the www.....  urls type are HOT Web Tour or PUSH is only one on one
<E-School> You don't even need the http
<seltzer> Bob -- thanks. is the Web tour different? or do you just type URLs?
<E-School> the web tour sends a url to ONE person and they  have the option of opening it or not
<E-School> to see the admin click the 2nd button at the top of the chat area
<seltzer> Bob -- you also indicate that there is "auto-logging" here. I presume that means a handy way to save the transcript. How do you do
    that? Where can we find that command? And does it only log from the moment when you connect?
<E-School> I chose to make that a requirement - it is not necessary or required
<E-School> any java room only shows you the text in the chat area after you enter the room
<seltzer> What about the autologging? How do you activate that? and can anyone do so or just the admin?
<seltzer> Bob -- how much does it cost to sign up for a room that would have autologging?
<E-School> auto logging is avail in the paid room and will save up to two days of transcripts for cutting and pasting
<JohnSmith> I think autologging is pretty essential.  That's one reason to NOT use the YahooGroups chat rooms for real work: you have to spend
    a ton of time making notes from the java applet & if it crashes, you've lost everything.
<seltzer> JohnSmith -- I agree completely. That's why I normally use SiteScape (HTML).
<seltzer> Bob -- what is the charge for that autologging service?
<E-School> John - auto is a premium service. as long as you stay connected in this room you can easily copy the transcript.
<seltzer> Bob -- for me, the inability to see text typed before you entered is a killer weakness. For my own purposes, I really couldn't use such a
    chat (which means Java is out). You wind up having to explain the same things over and over. And it is very confusing for people who
    arrive late (and most people arrive late).
<JohnSmith> I guess it's a matter of scale that interacts with your choice
    of chatroom.
0<JohnSmith> I took a good workshop on facilitating chat and they had some work-arounds for that. Like assigning different roles. Someone actually greets     people who show up late and sends them a private message orienting them.
<seltzer> JohnSmith -- those workarounds sound very tedious. Especially when you are running a session alone. I much much prefer HTML chat.
<seltzer> Bob -- do you know the price of the autologging at chatway?
<iesi> What are the added features you have built into the Web Teacher  page
<E-School> We highly recommend IE and PC for using Web Teacher so all added features work as designed.
<JohnSmith> Are there other resources with similar tabulations that  people know about?
<E-School> John we''l talk about the added features in just a  moment
<seltzer> JohnSmith -- next week, I'll be returning to SiteScape for my Thursday chat (about being found by search engines). That will give you
    an opportunity to see how SiteScape works. I'll include the URL in my chat reminder notice and in my chat intro page
<seltzer> Bob -- thinking of the need of Global Learn Day -- I'd think that the ability to see previous messages entered would be critical. But that
    isn't on the chart and none of the chats evaluated let you do that (all being Java).
<E-School> GLD we will archive 15 min transcript segments on the fly
<seltzer> Bob -- posting 15 minute archive segments sounds very tedious, and it would sure leave me confused.
<E-School> I've automated it - remember I'm a software developer :-)

Added features at Bob Zwick's Web Teacher page

<E-School> Richard - if we are ready I'll quickly go over the added  features of Web Teacher
<seltzer> Bob -- yes please do go through those.
<E-School> Frame slider - the two red arrows on the top left and  right side of the screen
<JohnSmith> Nice.
<seltzer> Yes, the frame slider is neat.
<E-School> LINK icon displays the last URL pushed by the presenter
<E-School> Screen shots sent by presenter
<E-School> a class Email Account for students
<E-School> presenter's web cam which opens in a separate small floating window
<E-School> Contact page for the school, instructors and presenters
<E-School> A Class/School calendar for schedules
<JohnSmith> How does the "notepad" thing work?  I tried it and the text I entered seemed to get lost.
<E-School> John the notepad keeps personal notes in a cookie on the students pc. They reappear any time you return here and can be printed and cleared
<JohnSmith> When I tried to "print" i didn't get anything.  Just an image of the window.
<E-School> John - IE only are you using NS ?
<seltzer> Okay, I see that the icon with the notebook feature is the notebook. Do I have to do anything to save what I put there? Or is it
    automatically saved and is it available again when I return here?
<JohnSmith> Using IE. The notes I typed ARE there.  Just didn't see.  Should use the good eye, eh?
<E-School> It is automatically saved when you click add the note
<E-School> HELP page with alternate LIVE help for anyone with questions or difficulties.
<seltzer> Bob -- okay. I click record, I see it's saved and I can print the full page.
<E-School> We use Human Click as a LIVE assistance feature in the HELP screen for people who are having troubles and need personal attention.
<E-School> The "Enter Shared URLS box at the top right is for people who want to looks at links in or out of web teacher. It allows you to open
    new pages or keepp them in the web teacher page
<JohnSmith> I've got to go.  Many thanks.  This was a good session.  More about me and what I and some others in the communities of
    practice area do at

Previous transcripts and schedule of upcoming chats --

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