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February 24, 2003

Inside Macromedia

meeting room

This is a view into a team meeting at Macromedia—it shows many of the team members I'm working with on a new product. The team is based in both San Francisco and Boston, with this particular gathering in Macromedia's board room.

The meeting rooms were designed to help distributed teams collaborate, and it mostly works, but still a lot to learn about remote meetings. The video systems in the far wall can show multiple locations, and the screens can also be used to project computer displays from computers plugged into ports on the table. Both sides of a meeting can control camera panning and zooming. The audio is handled by microphones embedded in the table and speakers in the ceilings. It's all IP-based and works over a high speed internet connection between our offices.

Almost everyone carries their laptop computers into meetings now—the wireless network has driven this over the past couple years. During meetings, people are present in two places at once, partly in the live meeting and partly in the virtual space of their computer. Conversations in meetings frequently happen on multiple levels in this environment, with people not only talking but also sending email and instant messaging each other, as well as sending documents and links to view during discussion. If you don't have your computer, you really miss out on parts of the meeting.

One problem with the proliferation of laptops is the table microphone design (the little black dots on the table) did not anticipate noisy fans and keyboard tapping right next to them, so meetings are commonly punctuated by "someone has their computer by a microphone!".

There's still a lot to learn about how technology can assist meetings, particularly distributed meetings. Some interesting research along these lines has been done by Microsoft Research (PDF) and Stanford's Interactive Workspaces Project.

24 Feb 03 08:48 PM


Court Kizer says:

I'd love to see more pictures! Is that from Macromedia in San Francisco? I'm in LA.
I'm interested in blog software especially as it pertains to graphical development (as you can see from my weblog layout). I've worked with GUI/Human Interface for the last several years and am known mostly for tearing apart every little aspects of software projects. It usually helps the projects look/function great as well as spawn ideas.

If your interested I have ideas to run by you email me and we can talk on the phone sometime.

All the Best.

Posted by: Court Kizer on 25 Feb 03 09:24 AM

John Waller says:

Fascinating, Kevin.
Could you give us more insight into the internal communication processes at Macromedia and how meetings are conducted (and more photos)?


Posted by: John Waller on 25 Feb 03 05:11 PM

michael e. gunn says:

Very, very cool indeed.

I'm hoping to be in there with you guys sometime in the not-so-distant future ;-)

Posted by: michael e. gunn on 26 Feb 03 02:58 AM

arron creechley says:

wow! i would love to see more photos ;) and i too would love to be in that room someday...

Posted by: arron creechley on 26 Feb 03 11:25 PM

Digitalboy(china) says:

it is so cool!

But I think you can use FlashCom. It is exciting product.

I am using it in China, and introduc it to others.

BTW, I am also a reporter for And wrote many news and courses. If you have time, Could you accept my interview? thanx.

Posted by: Digitalboy(china) on 05 Mar 03 02:19 AM

Paul Michael Smith says:

Very cool stuff indeed. I have been studying some of the problems of Distrubuted Meetings in real time. I had to do a Time-Space Matrix and I was well and truely stumped. :-)

Posted by: Paul Michael Smith on 05 Mar 03 09:14 AM

Doug Fox says:

Kevin, thanks for post about your team meeting rooms. I look forward to learning more about how these rooms are configured to improve and facilitate distributed team meetings. Is the Stanford project you reference still active? It looks like their last update was in 2001. Do you know of similar projects at universities? By the way, I've been looking for more examples of these types of meeting rooms for my weblog on the Future of Meeetings -

Posted by: Doug Fox on 06 Mar 03 03:19 AM

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