Google+ Hangouts -- better than face to face for meetings?

I've been having fun with Google+: hangouts.  In my Philadelphia  writer's group, we decided to have our monthly critique session via a hangout. One of our members lives far from Philly, and the trip's not always convenient for him-- he'd suggested a Google Hangout as a good alternative.  But I always wanted to play around with online meetings-- we'd tried Skype, with mixed results.

My verdict for our writer's group-- it worked far better than I could have anticipated.   it was a breeze to use (we were already using Google + circles, so all we had to do was ensure that we were connected to each other's circles.)  Downloading the plug-in took a few seconds.  I plugged in my headset and was ready to go.   I invited members to join my hang-out and presto, we were connected.  The video quality, as well as the audio, was terrific-- and because we weren't distracted by anything else, the session was more productive than usual.

Why?  That's a hard question.  Face to face meetings are considered the superior way to meet, if you can -- but I am not so sure that's true.  In Google's hangout, the face of the the lead speaker always appears larger than the others.  That's different from face to face.  In "real" life, you're often distracted by the person sitting directly across from you, or the person doodling or otherwise distracting you.  Here, you naturally focused on the lead speaker -- I think, a real improvement on face to face.

I have more ideas about how authors can use Google hangouts to their advantage-- and I'll write more about those in my next posts.

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