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What is Conferencing?

"Conferencing" is a loose term that covers the whole realm of on-line, asynchronous communication, that connects groups of people.

  • It's on-line.  If you can get to the Internet, it's there.

  • It's about groups.  Group communication, group process, group tracking, and group memory.  E-mail is one-to-one.  Conferencing is many-to-many.  And it never gets lost.

  • It's asynchronous: not (a-)  at the same (synch)  time (chronos).  Conferencing happens whenever you want it to happen.  It's not chat, it's not instant messages.  It's not about time at all.  It's always available.  The history is always there.

The term "conferencing" came about because the early technology focussed on group meetings.  The closest metaphor at hand was a "conference" -- which could mean anything from a small, tight group to the virtual equivalent of a big conference at a hotel, complete with multiple tracks, "rooms", and off-hour "shmoozing" times.

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