Google Hangout Recap

A quick screenshot of the Google Hangout, from Friday. I have to say, it was definitely the most people I’ve ever hung out with, simultaneously via chat, ever.

Though not everyone was online at once, we had maybe 9 or 10 people constantly logged in… with people hopping in and out, over the course of maybe 45 minutes. A quick tally: Matt M, Jane, Liam, Chris, Utopia, Chris B, Jeff (aka Flamingo Jeff), Ben, Justin S, JVO (briefly), Pam C, Justin, Ben L, Jose and Laurence.

In hindsight, I feel like I should have prepared some activities or had some goal/task in mind. Once we had several folks hanging out together, we were all like… well, now what? It felt like I had sent out invitations to a party, and then when folks showed up… I had neither food nor music nor drink.

We mostly just, well… hung out. We mostly started at one another, but did try a few of the features (sharing browser windows, animated gifs and video). The video sharing turned out to be pretty rough, though I suspect part of the problem was we had multiple people trying to view things at the same time.

Here’s a brief moment of fun, where people were trying to create a full person through the video thumbnails (on the right). I didn’t realize what was happening until it was nearly over, but starting at the top… Chris was providing the hat to my head, then Jane and Justin S were providing the torso and Justin was trying to get his feet in the camera’s view. Silly stuff.

We got to see Matt’s baby, briefly. And we also got to see Pam’s dogs. It was an interesting mix of worlds for me, as I suddenly had lots of friends from work mingling with people I know primarily from online forums. Jeff I’ve known for a long while now, but he was having firewall problems. I’ve seen Pam online for a while now, and though I knew what she looked like… this was the first time I had actually “spoken” with her, for real. And I’ve known Chris B for an even longer time. I’d wager it was a solid 5+ years before I even knew what he looked like. But since he didn’t have a mic at his office computer, it’s been nearly a decade now… and I still don’t know what the guy sounds like.

While not something I would do every day, the Google Hangout feature is pretty fun. I could see it becoming handy when trying to conference in multiple people from different locations, for sure. I could maybe see collaboration, but given how sluggish the video sharing was… basic video and chat seems like the way to go, for now.

In the old days, maybe 10 years ago… I remember hanging out with a bunch of folks from a forum called We’re Here (which used to be at the now-defunct This was one of the first forums I had ever “joined,” and slowly began meeting more and more people. Both Jeff and Chris B are from those old days.

There used to be this thing called “Friday Night Phone Tag,” where one person would call another… then that person would use their 3-way calling and ring up yet another person. This chain went on for a while, and on more than a few occasions… I remember doing shots over the phone, talking with someone else over on the west coast (who was doing bong hits).

Funny to think how things have changed over that period of time. It’s interesting to reflect on the nature of friendship and physicality, how the people who are close to you can also be nowhere close to you at all.

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