Vokle is a great new free program (in Beta at the time of this article) that allows you and others to connect through video conference. It offers added structure and features you may not find anywhere else for free.
There’s no shortage of programs and web sites that will allow you to video chat with multiple people at one time, and many of them are free. Heck, I have even reviewed some of the more noteworthy ones here at Freewaregenius (e.g. here, and here). What I have not seen a lot of, however, are decent programs or sites to allow a more organized video chat gathering on or event, without a gouging price tag attached. There are programs out there that are designed for things like remote lectures for college, instructional classes, debate forums, and business meetings across continents. However, the ones I have seen before now either cost a great deal of wampum or are not worth the time and effort to download them. Given how easy it is to download a file, that should tell you something.
Vokle aims to change all of that. Vokle offers a free, highly polished solution for video conferencing between multiple people with organization tools built right into the program. What does this mean, you ask? Well, it means that you can host a video chat between yourself and as many others as you want, but you won’t be forced to sit and wait for everyone to calm down before you can begin speaking. Basically, it is video conferencing for those who are about something a bit more serious than just having a chat. Let’s take a closer look at what Vokle is and what it has to offer the average user. There are three main components to the Vokle system, although they are all wrapped up in one program for ease of installation and seamless usage. You can host or join a live event, interact with the other people viewing the event, and even access the event later through a recording. I’ll break each of these components down so you’ll get a better idea of their value and why I am so enamored of Vokle.
The core, and basis for Vokle is the “event”. An event can be a teleconference between business mates, or it can be a lecture or how-to session from a professor with students participating from remote locations, or anything else you can think of, really. An event is anything that you (or someone else) wants to broadcast and allow others to take part in. I have personally even used it for playing games like table-top RPGs and other similar entertainments. An event consists of the following basic parts: the host, the audience, and the interface. The host is the one who is broadcasting the event and, ostensibly, has control over it. The audience consists of everyone who is viewing the event, whether they are participating actively or not. The interface is what allows you to choose to interact or not, either by text chat, video, or audio or any combination thereof. Those things come together to create an event, on any subject you might want. As I said, I have seen serious political discussions on there as well as ridiculous ‘events’ that consist of nothing more than a kid playing Nintendo and asking people how great he is. Whatever your subject, Vokle can provide a forum for it in the form of an event.
The interaction between the host and the audience and even between audience members is what makes Vokle so useful, as opposed to a still and silent audience watching a video or podcast. In the latter case, the audience has no way to connect with the host, usually. Think back to the old television ‘call-in’ shows and you’ll have an idea of what audience interaction is like on Vokle. Using Vokle to broadcast your event to a live audience means you could be the next internet version of Jerry Springer or Bob Vila or The Love Doctor. It’s up to you what you want to broadcast but it’s up to the audience how to participate. There is a chat window that allows you to interact via text chat, which is pretty basic and straightforward. Additionally, you can set up your video and voice options (if you have the hardware) and when you want to ask a question of the Host (or another audience member) the host can switch the video feed to your video so the audience will then see you. You can also just sit quietly and watch, if that is what you’d rather. Having the option to interact in an organized, governed manner is what makes Vokle much more than just another video lecture or conference tool. As the host, you control the level of audience participation and you’ll never have to worry about being interrupted in the middle of a point. The audience can ask questions and make comments instead of just sitting there.
In addition to the live events, Vokle offers the option to view recorded versions of those events. Each event recording is broken into sections called ‘chapters’ so that you can easily find the section you want to view without having to sit through the entire recording or play skip-around-the-time-bar in hopes of stumbling on the right moment. Each chapter begins and is marked by a question or other interaction by an audience member, so the chapters are relevant from beginning to end. A recorded event can be viewed for a period of time so that it can be viewed by those who either couldn’t make it to the live event or didn’t even know about the live event until it was over. I wasn’t able to find a specific timeframe for how long they keep recordings, but I noted that the oldest one I saw was 8 months ago, which says to me there’s no shortage of space at the moment.
In conclusion, even though Vokle is still technically in Beta, it is already a great application that I can see being used by a huge variety of people. You could attach a Vokle event to your personal website, for example, or host a panel event to talk about your favorite celebrities. You could host a cross-fire style debate (although it’s doubtful Jack Germondo will show, his agent tells me) or anything else you can imagine needing a structured video conferencing environment for. The possibilities are near limitless and I am excited to see where Vokle will lead us as we head into the future. I think it will become a very popular means of communication and learning on the internet, and could even become the next YouTube or Facebook.
Until next time, my friends!