14 January 2009

Tech Review--Screen sharing applicaton

One of my interests is keeping an eye out on new websites/services that can be utilized within the library, particularly if they are free. In fact I did a presentation on it a while back. Well I keep discovering new services since that presentation and thought I'd review a few, both good and bad, and share with you all. 1st up screen sharing!

When I was in library school it seemed like everyone was talking about screen sharing. It was the new "hot topic" that allowed us to better serve our patrons. It always seemed to me that it was clunky, hard to use, and required a download. Since I left library school it seems like screen sharing has faded into the background (just my general impression.) Well recently I stumbled across a site called Screen2.com.

It's a very basic website, without a whole lot of information. The interface is simple to use and it does have a tutorial on how to use the service. Here's how it works: You create a name, your friend creates a name, one of you invites the other one (after telling what your anme is through phone, im, etc), and your invited to screen share with your friend. A screen pops up and you can see what each other is doing. That's it! No downloads, all free, and the software follows you along to whever you go...to an extent. They only give you 6 websites to choose from and you can't really dig into the site to much (see my notes below.)

Here are the positives of the site:
  • It's free
  • No downloads
  • Relatively easy to use

  • Only searches selected sites for a list of 6 (Google, Yahoo, Wikipedia, ESPN Sports Zone, YouTube, and eBay) These sites are not necessarily the American version. Google for example is Google.fi
  • You can't dig deeper than the base url. For example if you search for Jack Tarver Library in Google, you can get to the home page, but once you dig further into the site it stops screen sharing.
  • Seems a bit iffy on privacy. There's nothing indicating how long information is kept or what it's used for or if they keep it.
  • The username changes each time. For example if theres another Andrew signed on at that moment, the site adds other numbers to your name. This would seem to me to allow the possibility of connecting with the wrong user. It also means there is no way to personalize the site.
  • Because the username changes it means each time you want to use it, you have to contact the person you want to share with and let them know who you are.
While the site has it's benefits, such as showing someone how to navigate youtube and Wikipedia, the fact that you an't dig deeper into the links, such as those in Wikipedia, makes the service not very useful for libraries. The fact that's its also limited to just 6 sites means that you can't go very far into helping patrons. Of greater concern to me is that there is little to no information on who the group is, their purpose is, and what their privacy policy is. All of these reasons make me want to avoid utilizing this software beyond a simple tool to introduce screen sharing to folks.


Andrew_Mikogo said...

Hi Andrew,
Considering you'd like to dig deeper than base urls, I think you would enjoy checking out Mikogo
Mikogo is a free screen sharing tool that allows you to share your screen with up to 10 participants. Best part: you can share any application you wish, including web browsers, PDFs, presentation slides, spreadsheets, images, etc... Very easy, smooth and secure way (256bit AES encryption) to collaborate online with multiple people.
Video tutorials are available on our homepage and show you how to get started.
For your needs, you might like to try out the Mikogo portable version as there is no installation involved.


The Mikogo Team

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