For what they are and what they do, services like GoToMeeting and WebEx have become critical business tools for conducting virtual meetings, especially during these days of scaled-back travel budgets. But there's always been some things about them that bothered me, notably having to run a third-party program on my computer to make it work.
Now, along comes a startup called Dimdim that brings web conferencing, webinars and interactive meetings to the browser itself, eliminating the need to run a special program. And as noteworthy as that is, it's not what I find most memorable about this company or service. (And no, I'm also not talking about the somewhat silly name with a story of its own.)
What I liked was how interactive the conference experience is for the participants. We're not just talking about listening to - or worse, staring at - a talking head on the screen while a Powerpoint plays in the adjacent window. There were chat windows, both public to the group or private to one person.
I really liked the whiteboard that the participants could write on - at the same time. And I was impressed when the host took us to a live Web page as part of his presentation and I was able to click on the embedded video player and watch without activating the player on other participant's screens.
Dimdim is doing for virtual conferencing what Google is trying to do for online communication with Wave. It wants to be the platform for anything related to the experience - and both have decided to take the open source route and leave it to developers to create mash-up apps of their own. (check out the company's YouTube video for a demo.)
By releasing the APIs, the company is hoping developers will find ways to bring more valuable features to the service - both internally and for other DimDim users, as well. Personally, I'd like to see an MS Word or Google Docs window built into DimDim - a fresh screen where I can take notes for myself, eliminating the need to shrink the presentation screen and open a blank page next to it to take notes.
With so many companies re-thinking their travel budgets, web conferences become a smart way to conduct business from the screen of a PC. Services like Dimdim are taking it to the next level by keeping it in the browser and reaching out to developers to make the service even better.
What would you like to see in web conferencing?