I heard about hangouts and thought that they could be useful in a church context so I bought this domain name. Problem is that I did not know what to do with it.
Fast forwards a few months and there were some discussions about a fringe events related to the 2015 Baptist Assembly in Peterborough. Someone suggested an online summit. I kept the idea on the backburner until I knew were I would be living in May and June 2015. Once I did I brought it out into the open and started to think about how it could be developed. Now I could do something with that website I started.
What are hangouts?
Hangouts are a popular way of communicating in the online world but what is a hangout. Google provides hangouts as a free service. They are essentially video chats that are recorded and left on You Tube.
You can schedule them ahead of time and send out invitations to people. There can be up to ten people in the filmstrip i.e. who can come in and speak on camera. However they can have unlimited viewers and can even be watched on a number of different websites at the same time.
You can do a variety of things with hangouts. It is possible to do screenshares including presentation slides. So it is possible to do serious talks. On the other hand there are some fun elements you can include like a handful of sound effects.
Who uses them?
They are free and can be run from home by anyone with a reasonable internet connection. This means that they are popular with people who work from home but want a professional quality means of communicating with potential customers.
A wide variety of people have used them including Pope Francis. If a service is being used by the world leader of the Roman Catholic church why is it not being used by other churches.
One reason why they are not easy to use to relay a church service is the copyright issue. Think about it. We read books and use songs that are copyrighted and Google is red hot on clamping down on copyright violations. However as long as copyright restrictions are observed they can be used for other purposes within the church.
All it takes is someone with a vision of how they could be used and some knowledge of how to use them to get on and use them. In terms of hardware anyone with a reasonably up to date computer and a webcam can get on them or run them.
Why not use them?
Well why not? I honestly could not think of a good reason. The only issue is helping other people catch the vision. There is no point in doing something like this this unless there is an audience. People will not come to watch unless it meets their needs. Hence the first step has been to set up a survey and ask people what their ideal online summit would be like.
At the moment this is where the story ends. If enough people complete the survey it will continue. Time will tell if this happens.