Burton Group talks about the distinction between Channels and Workspaces in Collaboration. Channels are routes where information flows. Workspaces are areas where collaborators gather. Examples of Workspaces are Wikis, shared document repositories, group calendar software.
Channels are things like email, chat, VoIP, video conferencing and telephony. The problem with Channels is that we have to be protocol centric. We have to think – I want to communicate with Keith. Let see if the Chat protocol will work (e.g. is he on-line in chat?) if not I’ll send an email but maybe I’ll call too. I want to be person centric: I want to communicate with Keith.
In my ideal scenario, I would select Keith as a contact and I would then see communication options TEXT, VOICE, VIDEO. I could then select that I want to do VOICE. I would pick up my headset and my computer would establish a connection. On Keith’s end, he would choose to have VOICE channeled to Skype or iChatAV or to his cell phone or home phone number. He might even have a priority list (if Skype is running, use Skype otherwise send to Cell Phone). He might send VOICE directly to an MP3 (to voicemail) that he can listen to later.
On the TEXT side, I would select TEXT and either be connected to IM or asked to form an email depending on KEITH’s availability setting in IM.
The IM logs should flow into a repository that is similar to my (if not the same as my) email repository.
There are times when I would like to pick the protocol, when I would send and email even though Keith is on IM.
On the receiver end, I would need better presence management. I would need a unified presence control – a central place where I could manage the flow of information into my channels. I would have to swap managing protocols for managing presence.