What is Conferencing?

Electronic conferencing or teleconferencing is a system for enabling written online group discussions. Unlike online "chat," participants need not all be logged on at once. Instead, conversations typically take place over days, weeks, or even months. Unlike mailing lists or Usenet, the discussion is stored in a central place, ensuring that postings are consecutive and that no one adds a new posting without having had the opportunity to read all of what's been said so far. The result is a linear, sequential discourse that has the feel of a real-life conversation.

Motet keeps a permanent record of each discussion, allowing you to refer back to old postings if you need to and enabling late-comers to join a conversation. This also makes old discussions available as an information resource.

Motet keeps track of your place in each topic of discussion, enabling you to automatically pick up where you left off each time you log on. A personalized list of forums lets you focus on the subjects that interest you with a minimum amount of navigation.

These features make it easy to participate in several discussions at once, keeping up with everything that gets said, and to take as much time as you need to formulate your thoughts on a subject, without the tedium of managing, saving, deleting, and making decisions about email. The conversation runs itself. All you have to do is participate (or just read), with only a few mouse clicks.

Forums, Topics, and Postings

Conversations are grouped by broad subject area into forums. For example, there might be a forum on politics, another on sports, and another on food. The Motet Administrator determines what the forums shall be.

Within each forum are numbered topics. The topic is nominally a single discussion about a particular subject. For instance, the Food forum might include topics on restaurants, particular types of food, recipes, diets, where to by the best produce, etc. Each topic has a title identifying its subject.

A topic is composed of numbered postings, each by an individual participant. You participate in each topic by reading its postings through to the end, at which point you have the option of making a posting of your own. In Motet, you respond to the topic as a whole rather than to a specific posting therein--there is no "threading" within topics. This results in a more focused and easy-to-follow conversation.

In a single Motet session you will typically cycle through a number of topics in several forums. The next time you log in, the system can show you only the new postings in topics that have had activity since your previous visit.

Each forum is typically maintained by one or more hosts, who are assigned the job of forum upkeep and given a few special privileges to make that job easier. Hosts can keep topics lively, mediate or terminate disputes, and post useful information. Hosts are also usually the first people to create topics in a forum.