* A virtual conference with southern partners in 1999 was evaluated and time rather than language or technology was the limiting factor for participation. Looks like there is often a perception that online is fast and cheap and something you do in your own time: not taken as serious work like face-to-face meetings for instance. (same came up in the online facilitation workshop I mentioned in the last posting!). The MSN group also mentioned that MSN is frequently used for private conversations but not at work.
* Dgroups (www.dgroups.org) as an interesting example of a platform designed specifically with southern users and demands in mind. I wonder what other examples are there of designs specifically for southern users like dgroups. (maybe lots of linux groups in the south actually do??). Specific design differs from general designs (like skype or Gmail) which happen to match southern users' interests. However, the example of a training/coaching experience with limited interaction within the group made me also wonder whether the Dgroups features would make it more challenging to facilitate intense interactions (f.i. because discussions are not threaded?) in smaller or larger groups.
* The question whether sometimes southern partners are not ahead of northern partners in adopting some distance communication technologies (especially for easy-to-use, free technologies like skype) came up several times. Which raises a question for me: do northern partners find it difficult to learn from southern partners in this regard, do they feel they have to lead?
* It matters whether you perceive some of these technologies as cost-reducing and a bad substitute for face-to-face contacts, or whether you can see the different modes of communication as a source of creativity and a means to stimulate various ways of communications and create new links (and hence something which can enrich conversations and learning). Interesting in this regard was the discussion of the price of an online workshop/conference. Whether you see it as cheap or expensive depends on your perception of the value it brings and whether you equal its value with a face-to-face workshop or not.