IVP - Behind the Books - TokBox or Idiot Box?

December 19, 2008

TokBox or Idiot Box?

Sometimes I read online conversations about stuff I know absolutely nothing about—often by accident—and occasionally they offer some insights that get past the barriers of my ignorance. Case in point: TokBox—apparently the technology of the moment.

From what I can ascertain, TokBox is free live web video, easily appended to existing social networking environments, that amps up considerably the capacity for remote meetings and other ways of connecting people across various divides. I welcome D. J. Chuang or anyone of his aptitude to publicly mock my ignorance on the matter, if only they’ll correct any misinformation I’m putting out there.

What I found particularly interesting is the difference—described here in critique of one Christian entrepreneur’s employment of TokBox technology—between an online and actual “watercooler” environment:

A watercooler in the office (or the breakroom coffee pot scenario) is effective because there’s pressure to engage. That’s the first thing. Here [on “Church Staff Breakroom Online”], there isn’t any pressure to engage.

Secondly, with the meatspace engagement, there’s a stated point, and understood motivation. … With this [the Breakroom], there is no pressure, no stated understood purpose. Organized chaos …

What would make it better? Three things (among others) come to mind:

  1. Purpose. Stated and understood purpose beyond the water-cooler intent.
  2. Energy and the “spark event”. Why does the Twitter button rock hard? Because there’s direction, motivation, and an spark-event that builds energy around a particular time in the digital space.
  3. Organization. Please organize it or attempt to so that people can weed through and get where they want to go and not waste time.

This “organization” idea is helpful for me. I go to the InterVarsity Press breakroom for one thing: coffee. (Maybe the occasional Hot Pocket.) Everything else is typically either (a) a delightful but ultimately distracting interruption or (b) a serendipitous and surprisingly strategic conversation.

(Incidentally, whenever my boss is within earshot, I hope it’s the latter but worry that it’s becoming the former.)

I suspect that, for people who are typically overtaxed and under pressure, their ventures online—and perhaps even into a book—fall into either category (a) or category (b). Category (b) is a virtue; category (a) is a vice. Wasting people’s time—online, in person or in print—may well be becoming the new cardinal sin.

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at December 19, 2008 12:52 PM Bookmark and Share


Especially idiots who were hired into positions I applied for. Matthew Ritual

Comment by: Matthew Ritual at December 19, 2008 11:37 PM

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