Sometimes typing at or with others is not enough. Speed can be an issue and no matter how advanced your keyboarding skills it just seems easier producing and consuming audio. While I have used audio and video over the Internet for some time, my experiences have been primarily limited to family members (e.g., my wife when she was in Japan, my kids because they will sometimes humor me and use the computer instead of the cell phone) and have focused on a single software application (iChat AV). The situation that has prompted me to expand my experiences a little is the collaborative activity in which multiple individuals participate in a discussion for the purpose of generating a podcast. What makes such efforts a little unique is that some participants are making their contributions to the discussion via VOIP. The quality of productions generated from inexpensive resources seemed worth a little exploration.
I wish I knew what qualifies as VOIP (basic description provided by About). My personal interpretation would be that I have already participated in VOIP experiences – I have communicated using audio over the Internet. My perception is that there are categories of VOIP apps. At the low end (meaning free for some services and inexpensive for others), I would differentiate products that are intended as computer to computer products and those that offer the option of using a standard telephone.
Within the first category, I would place applications such as Apple’s iChat AV, Yahoo Messenger With Voice, GoogleTalk and Microsoft Netmeeting. These products may or may not be able to communicate with each other and the product you are able to use may depend on the operating system you use (Yahoo Messenger With Voice does not actually have a voice on the Mac, but it does allow video??? There is probably some technical reason for video without audio, but I have no idea what it might be. The Yahoo site says they are aware that Mac users would like audio. Good for them.).
In my second category, I would place Skype and Gizmoproject. Skype is clearly the most widely known of these products, but Gizmo has some very interesting features. Gizmo has a “record” option that offers a perfect way to record a session (e.g., for a podcat). I suppose people will get in trouble for recording conversations without full knowledge of all participants and some will see this as a serious flaw. There should be a signal – like the red light on a camcorder – that makes it obvious that content is being recorded.