Last Sunday I had the privilege to take part in a great Google Hangout about…Google Hangouts;) As always, we have talked about many topics but I am posting the entire recording for the sake of those of you who did not take part in hangouts yet.
Just after the end of this recording we have initiated a really interesting discussion about the value of moderation and/or lack of moderation during Google Plus hangouts, but I had to leave, so here are my thoughts.
1. My personal take on the value of Google Hangouts.
I really like the fact that hangouts are not moderated. To me, hangouts are a virtual representation of group dynamics and conversation flow one gets to experience only at barcamps. If you see a session with an interesting to you title you join in (hangouts can be named now), say hi (if not on video, just type it in the chat window) and are more than welcome to make your points. Your attitude and behaviour will define if others stay in touch or not (just like on Twitter, they will be able to follow your updates later, after the hangout). If you need to leave, post a message or simply say bye – others will not take it personally.
I like this notion of a free flow of thoughts combined with respectful attitudes. (less friendly people are muted are banned). But I also like the fact that to participate actively you also need to listen and be patient – give every single attendee time to speak up too. So with ten people in the room, you really have to find the right time to make your points. You are welcome to do so always, but the flow of conversation might mean that your topics will land in chat and might be picked up a bit later. This feeling of slight chaos is actually a good brain exercise;)
2. The value of moderation.
I think Google Plus leave scope for moderated hangouts, but those need to be announced clearly and run properly too. I think many individuals and organisations can engage really openly and proactively with their audiences and later amplify (read: share the content with larger crowds) their recordings. Technically speaking running hangouts on air becomes easier and easier. If you want to use hangouts for more structured events I cannot see why that would be impossible.
3. The value of Google Hangouts for all.
I would like to stress that Google Hangouts are quite universal. Even Google Plus membership is not a big entry barrier for viewers anymore. So why not to try them out and decide what is the best use of this technology. I would just like to remind everyone that there is a great community of people already experienced with the usage of this tool so it’s really worth talking to them first and then taking it to your own grounds. The value of Google hangout is what you make out of it!