One of the exciting new ways that people communicate these days is by e-conferencing. That first letter stands for electronic. Such e-conferencing is usually done via the Web, but server-based e-conferencing is common as well.
The most common kind of e conferencing is the Internet chat, otherwise known as Internet Messaging or simply IM. Whether you realize it or not, every time you engage in one of these sessions, you are e-conferencing. Even if it’s just a social chat between friends, it can still be classified as e-conferencing.
What most people envision when they think about e-conferencing, however, is business-related interaction. Such e-conferencing can take the form of audio and/or video conversations, message swapping, file sharing and other forms of electronic interaction that simulate the experience of everyone being in the same room. That is the essence of e-conferencing, the ability to make it seem like everyone is in one room even if they are on separate continents.
People participate in e-conferencing using a variety of software applications. Some types of Internet chat applications, such as Yahoo Messenger, MSN Messenger, Skype or Google Chat, are first and foremost text-chat enablers. These applications, however, also boast file sharing functionality as well, with some of the more adventurous applications including links to other services offered by the portal or manufacturer.
Some software applications offer all manner of e-conferencing possibilities. You can even, if you look hard enough, find an application suite that does it all, giving you audio, video, messaging, data sharing, and a whole lot more. Most providers of this kind of suite, especially, include a very attractive security package, so you and your colleagues can virtually interact while enjoying the peace of mind that you are not being spied on and your data-sharing activities are not being hacked. Other providers of lesser e-conferencing functionalities have varying degrees of security as well.
The common perception of e-conferencing is that it happens in real time, with everyone interacting at once. This is not always the case. A very popular use of e-conferencing is the prerecording and subsequent viewing of presentations, for business meetings or even for educational sessions. This kind of meeting is still considered e-conferencing, even though it doesn't seem to fit the common definition. Interaction is still taking place electronically; the introduction and absorption of information is simply not simultaneous.
As more and more people own and operate computers regularly, e-conferencing will become more and more attractive as an option for sharing thoughts, laughs, and sensitive information. Software applications will continue to improve to meet this growing demand as well. It’s all a by-product of the always-on, interconnected global society that computers and the Web make possible.