In specific, we have been testing to try to add some video capabilities.
The site is ready, but we have not found the appropriate technology to make this work in the way we envision it. We are thinking of a recorded video conference, with the rabbis able to interact and talk with each other as they look at a given question.
What we discovered is that the popular commercial program we started out thinking we would use has a couple of problems. First, when we have four or more locations conferenced, the quality of video and sound degrades significantly, to the point that it freezes, pauses, loses sound, etc. That makes it somewhat hard to have an interactive conversation that is worth showing or watching. Further, the software seems unable to deal with overlapping speakers – the situation when one person is talking and another interrupts them. We found that the software either made both speakers incomprehensible, or cut off the sound totally – not good for a conversation!
The result is that we are trying to learn if the software product can be adjusted to accomodate what we need, and if not, we are looking for other ways to do this. In a sense, I guess I am opening it here to your experiences: if you have done similar things and are willing to explain how, please post a comment. You can either let me know how to contact you, you can provide a solution in your comment, or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for any help you can offer.
Oh, yeah – before I get a slew of ‘sales’ contacts about this, please know that JVO is a very small operation (almost all volunteers), with a TINY budget that mostly just covers the system as it stands. We run on a shoestring, at this point, so if you are thinking to sell us a solution that requires a significant expenditure or a lot of equipment, you may not want to waste your time.
On other fronts, the work to add the “Other” category of panelists and answers is proceeding, and we hope it will be in place very soon. Again, if there are rabbis who are interested in being panelists, they are invited to contact us. Our current roster of those who have agreed to be panelists exceeds eighty rabbis now in the Conservative, Orthodox, and Reform streams. With the change that is in progress, we can accommodate many more from a wide variety of streams of Judaism.
Rabbi Joe Blair, JVO Panelist and Administrator