In an earlier post, I mentioned that active forms of communication like video chatting and telephone conversations can be pretty unnatural when you consider family and friends just ‘hanging out’ at home together, for instance. I also mentioned that maybe video chat can be treated in a more passive manner to encourage a more passive, natural chatting style.
Typically, video chat invitations need to be handled immediately: you either have to accept or reject the invitation to chat right away. One of my previous roommates and I had a neat system: the degree to which our doors were open indicated our openness to a ‘spur of the moment’ of chat.
Ideally, a similar approach could work for a video chat where the request to chat doesn’t require an immediate response. You ‘open your door’ to other people and they will be informed. They can drop by so long as your door is open.
A nice Google Calendar feature allows you to create an event (you could even call it ‘Door’s open’) and everyone who is listed on the event can follow a hyperlink to a Google+ Hangouts video chat. It’s a subtle difference from the traditional video chat invite: instead of querying a friend and waiting for a response, you just send a link to them (e.g. via an email or text message). They can join if they want. Or not. No big deal. I think this is a more concrete suggestion for how to use tech to improve our communication with close family and friends than the high level thoughts I posted before. I’ll be trying it out and posting my ‘results’. Could be nice to streamline the process with an app, but this ‘hack’ allows me to try it out first!