[Talk-us] Mappy Hour

Serge Wroclawski emacsen at gmail.com
Tue Jul 2 14:38:45 UTC 2013

On Mon, Jul 1, 2013 at 9:39 PM, stevea <steveaOSM at softworkers.com>
wrot> It's that Monday again!

> I know this has been raised as an issue here before, but are we any closer
> to answering:  Is there an online (audio/video) venue which has less onerous
> Terms of Service than Google's?  A way to technologically solve a
> delightfully impromptu meeting like this without using a corporate host that
> insists upon taking from us everything we discuss within its digital domain?

We discussed this yesterday in the context of the US Import Committee,
which has filled up and not everyone was even able to join and

The short answer is no.

The longer answer is that other services do exist, but they have
limitations which do not allow them to fit the bill. These limitations

1. Presenter oriented

There are a number of tools which are designed to be "presenter
oriented", such as Big Blue Button. These tools are very powerful (and
may be useful for OSM in other contexts), but do not fit the more
casual model, where anyone is able to speak and participate fully.

2. They are audio only

We could do audio only conferences pretty easily, and we could just
use a phone conferencing service (rather than a web service), but
there's a lot missing in a phone conference- from social cues, to
being able to share and discuss at the same time.

This is useful for the US Import Committee when we are going over a
dataset and want to highlight some specific feature, or demonstrate a

3. They don't work with enough simultaneous participants

The newest tool in this arena is the WebRTC standard, which is in both
Chrome and Firefox. It can do real time communication with video, but
it's unfortunately not yet able to handle more than two participants.
It's planned, but it's not there yet.

That leaves just a few remaining options. I think Skype can handle 10
participants in a video call, but the problem with Skype is that my
understanding that you have to have a special kind of account for
group video calls, and that participants must specifically be invited
to participate.

Google Hangout isn't ideal, for sure, but I think for now, it's the
only option that solves a majority of our needs.

- Serge

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