FTLComm - Tisdale - November 26, 2000
The promise of even more and more communication variety using the Internet continues to grow more and more toward actual reality.

One of the main features of the whole idea of connecting computers together in a network was the ability to pass data and text back and forth with ease. E-mail and chat lines lead the way as the earliest and most positive means of using these networks. In the 80s we used bulletin boards where free for all discussions would take place and later the development of news groups came along and they offered the reader a chance to engage in discussions.

(Mac on the left from New Jersey, Millie on the right from Regina)

Chat lines, instantaneous direct text communications always have held a lot of interest for people as they offer the connection from person to person in a detached forum. ICQ is perhaps the most commonly used version of this and many people really make good use of the chat groups on Sympatico's First and Main page. But the tantalising ability to talk by using your voice and carrying images with the exchange has continued to mature.
Two years ago I spent a month experiencing one version of this form of communications and abandoned it to spend my time on other things but in the interim technology has continued to march onward and more and more versions of this kind of communications have stepped forward. Microsoft's Internet Messenger looks pretty good but I found that it required almost law school training to work through the mine field of hotmail, passwords and Microsoft's convoluted ways of doing things and I don't consider it worth all the effort need to use that system. On Thursday of this week iVisit's latest version was released and I installed it and to my surprise it does everything with no fuss.
Designed on a Macintosh iVisit offers the user video, voice and text communications and in the couple of hours I have tried it out I have exchanged text with two folks in Europe, some people in New Jersey, Texas and California There were two Italians last night but alas I did not have the linguistic ability to join in conversation with them. Most of the users I encountered were using Windows machines and with that the inherent difficulties of doing anything but they did handle images and now most users transmit a picture and in some cases outstanding pictures. Only the Mac users use voice easily but this is not the case with other similar programs where the Macs are the odd ones out. I later discovered that audio is still really in its primative stage which is odd when you see how good the video is and by far the video is the main event for most users. Few if any connect without a video source.
One of the things I discovered is the intangible need for people just to connect with one another. The romance section of iVisit would normally have over 150 visitors more than all other categories combined. The discussions tended to be light and there seems to be a good deal of exhibitionism, since video is now so prevalent I noticed that everyone does what we would do in normal conversations if some one acts badly or displays a rude picture it is ignored with the hope that the fool will get tired of being ignored and will go away. However, if you are concerned about children wandering into such sites your concerns are well founded and it would be a good idea to supervise their use of this kind of thing stringently.
But, and this is important, there are family and friends exchanges which are positive upbeat and would really be great experiences for a person of any age. Mac and I (Mac is seen near the top of this page) spent nearly an hour talking about his experiences in Viet Nam and his fears of problems in the world, China, Pakistan and the Middle East. Though things can be frivillous they can also be deep and meaningful.
The installation of the software is remarkably painless and it works utterly flawlessly, there are no complex settings to adjust it just simply works. To download simply go to ivisit.com.