Since 1990 I represent the Netherlands – as an expert in human-centered design for the Dutch Standardization Institute – in an ISO-working group on ergonomic design principles (with code ISO/TC159/SC1/WG1 for the insiders). In April 2011 the ISO-workinggroup had a meeting in Hamburg. An virtual meeting facilitated an exchange of ideas with three members at their homes in the UK and the Netherlands.
This time virtual communication over voice over IP was introduced. During one afternoon the group would communicate virtually. I downloaded the tool: Microsoft Office Live Meeting service, installed it. The test showed its proper functioning.
Joining the web meeting was an interesting experience. Eight colleagues were together in Hamburg, two in different places in the UK and I was in the Netherlands. The exchange was nice and useful, but not without problems. One expert in the UK had to reconnect every minute, probably because of an automatic safety rule in his computer. Parts of the discussion were not well audible due to the distance of eight people to only one microphone. And unexpectedly we all listened to a clear song, which appeared to be the mobile phone of an UK colleague. We all had fun and laughed. This was a valuable experiment.
After the meeting I did realize myself, that I had been able to follow the discussion because I know all the group members personally. We had no video connection. To recognize voices – knowing who was talking – makes a difference in understanding the discussion.