Are Conference Calls Better Than the Seeing Stones of Númenor?

Some time around 1930, JRR Tolkien started off the whole Lord of the Rings series by telling his children bed time stories about a little character he called “The Hobbit.” He’d been dreaming up the world of the Hobbit since he was a child himself. In doing so, Tolkien pretty much invented the whole “Fantasy Adventure with Elves and Dwarves” genre single handedly.

He also proposed what is perhaps the most glamorous conference call technology of all time, the Palantíri, or seeing Stones of Númenor. These were a set of 7 crystal balls that could be used for videoconferencing from Eressëa all the way across Middle Earth.

In these latter days, the stones are lost, the Elves have sailed into the West, and the “little folk” are only a bustle in the hedgerow. Today we can pick our smartphones out of our “pocketses” and videoconference with three people spread across three continents for free.

But if you had the choice, which one is better: a conference call, or a Seeing Stone of Númenor?

Read more →

Why the Borg Prefer Free Web Meetings

The Borg are a highly evolved species of cybernetic organisms in the Star Trek Universe whose goal is to “Achieve perfection.” They generously offer to assimilate less perfect species into their collective.

Sometimes the inferior species (like humans) aren’t so keen on being drones in a perfect collective.

In 2013, TV Guide named the Borg #4 on their list of “60 Nastiest Villains of All Time,” but as the Borg like to say:

“Resistance is futile.”

So how did the Borg get to be so powerful? They have better meetings. Seriously!… Read more →

The Best Story Conference is a Virtual One

Lauren Hill
Lauren Hill, holding a pair of the Sanuk sandals she writes about to help pay her surfing bills.

A writer I know wrote a book sitting at her landlord’s dining table in Ontario, then flew to a beach cabin in Bali and wrote the sequel. Meanwhile, she’s an employee of a publishing house in New York City.

She goes in to “the office” about twice a year. The job of “escritor” has evolved so much recently.

The carefree nomadic existence of “surfer/writers” like Lauren Hill, the Queen of Funky Sandals, would not be possible without virtual story conferencing.

The interesting thing is that virtual conferences are actually better than traditional sit-down meetings. And not just for the writers with sand in their toes.

Getting on the same page

People think writing is a completely solitary activity. Yes and no. There is a reasonable amount of sipping a piña colada beachside and tapping away on a laptop. But writing a book is a highly collaborative team process involving senior editors, copy editors, graphics and layout artists, and then the publicist. An agent is involved too, personal “readers,” and in many cases the subject of the book.

The virtual story conference gets all these people on the same page, and keeps them there, with no “dreaded overhead.”

Read more →

The Inconvenience of Crappy Web Conferencing Tools

All of us can recall an experience with technology that had us frustrated and ready to pull our hair out. Web conferencing tools, in particular, can be quite frustrating when not built with the customer in mind. FreeConference.com is aware of this, and we’ve gone to great lengths to make sure users have a seamlessly positive experience from start to finish. We also acknowledge that some web conferencing tools out there that are just a pain to deal with. Here are just a few of the inconveniences we’ve noticed with other crappy web tools:… Read more →