I just had one of those damn computer things, where I send an email to someone who I couldn’t reach by voice, but just after sending it, I get an email from that person that changes the conditions of what I was writing to the person about. Arghh.
I’ve written before about how Croquet fosters both synchronous and asynchronous communication, like combining chat and email. Here’s how it plays out in this particular scenario. I go to the special space that Alice and I have created (with a few clicks or voice commands) for the stuff common to us. (Or maybe common to a group of three or more. It doesn’t matter.) I create a message in that space – voice, text, or video. The idea is that Alice will see that message (and possibly be notified) and will review at her leisure. Alice starts to do the same thing, but since each of us has a presence (an avatar) visible to anyone else in the space, we see each other. Then we just start talking, directly. While we do so, I can even point at the paragraph that I was just composing. Alice can edit it, too, so that she or I can then bring over the collaboratively revised version to Bob. No mail client. No telephone. No chat client. No whiteboard. No filenames or email addresses. No server.
OK, this isn’t that different in principle from the little colored balls in Macintosh Mail that tell you which addresses belong to people who are in your buddy list and available for iChat at this moment. But maybe it’s enough different to actually be useable.