Miriam’s having a problem finding a chat service to support Scanfest. It seems all the existing web-based platforms have either started charging for their services or they’ve been scooped up to become a component in Facebook or Google + or whatever. Does that mean we’re out of affordable options? I don’t think so.
One very easy solution is WordPress.com. There’s a delicious theme called P2 that will turn a WordPress blog into a simple collaboration platform.
The P2 theme was originally designed by the folks at Automattic, the people who created WordPress, to be used as an in-house collaborative tool. As you can see, it falls somewhere between Twitter and Facebook for handling conversations. I love the way new comments are highlighted. One of my pet peeves with Facebook is that while it does a great job notifying you that there are new responses in a conversation thread, you often still have to wade through a lot of older responses to find them. P2 makes it much easier. And then there’s the tag system for quickly moving between conversations.
A P2 site could make a great permanent home for online events like Scanfest. It could also be set up as a private social center for families or genealogy societies. Best of all, it could be a great collaboration site for teams working on publication projects like a society newsletter, a group blog or a quarterly journal. In P2, publication schedules could be posted, possible topics discussed and even used to post articles for peer review.
While P2 can be used on both WordPress.com sites and self-hosted WordPress sites, for an event like Scanfest, using WordPress.com may be the best bet. A growing number of people are already WordPress.com users and can use their existing login to participate. And, if families, societies and project teams take advantage of P2′s capabilities for their own purposes, that single WordPress.com account world provide access to any number of sites or projects.
To create a WordPress.com blog, visit the Sign Up page and complete the simple form. If all you want is to create a WordPress.com user account, you’ll find a link for that on the Sign Up page too. Instructions for setting up P2 to create a collaboration site can be found at TheNextWeb.