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This guide explains the ins and outs of online communication, particularly participating via forums, groups, collaborative docs, and chats. Online media offer endless opportunities to create virtual block parties. We also recommend offline strategies.

Asynchronous and Real-Time Convos
In this guide we use the term real time to denote conversation that takes place simultaneously and it is key in understanding the difference between an online chat and forum. An online chat is conducted in real time. A forum or a bulletin board depend on people reading the materials at their leisure or in asynchronous time.

Chats
Chat it up!

Once online, you might find someone else in the realm of cyberspace to talk with (well, actually to type to). Chats offer simultaneous one-to-one conversation.

Some chats are conducted in an impromptu fashion. Others are scheduled, such as conversations, such as our dialogues.

Chat is rewarding when there’s a shared objective and it remains fun for both parties.

If you are scheduling a real-time chat, confirm the time for both parties. It may be difficult to coordinate across time zones. For conversations with colleagues we have found it helpful to stay off the computer for the previous hour and to log on to the chat 10-15 minutes beforehand.

This is not always the case, but on many occasions this has helped focus the discussion.

The downside of chats is that with a lot of participants, the discussion becomes v e r y s l o w. Slow travel is great. Slow chat is awful!

Chats favor those who can type quickly … and that’s not many of us! Also, some people find it difficult to focus or they focus so much that the spontaneity of the chat is lost.

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