Guillaume and I created Together from our desire for community with others who practice Circling. We also wanted to create something amazing that only we, with our unique lifetimes of skills and experience, could create. And we really wanted to grow ourselves by stepping into the adventure of doing all this together.
People do a lot of Circling on-line these days, using excellent software that was created mainly for business meetings. Together is the very best design we can currently imagine for Circling. Some of the attributes that make it good for Circling are:
We can only know whether these attributes make a difference when we have tried it out. That is where we step into the unknowable adventure of inviting others to share the world of Together. Each section that follows has a "How" link that explains exactly how that part of Together works.
The gathering is designed for a community of people to notice one another's presence. Seeing who else is there and what Circles are in progress gives a sense of aliveness, perhaps even connection.
There is no firm intent for what a Circle should be like. The person who created it can set the intent, and we hope that this will be where we begin to explore what is possible in on-line interaction.
At first we held the belief that all Circles should require people to have their camera and microphone on, or at least able to turn on. Then we started using Together ourselves for talking while playing a multiplayer video game and realized that we need to be able to use it without video. So we added the "allow audio-only" checkbox.
There is currently no provision to lock a Circle or to restrict access. If we were at a Circling event, people would be off Circling in different rooms that would not be locked, so why should this be different? In practice, it may be necessary to add software support for locking Circles so that people don't have to deal with the uncertainty of whether they should join or not. This is a feature that we would like to design with input from people who are actively using Together so we can see what is really needed.
We love the icons of Together because they are beautiful. They do not resemble their functions in most cases, although we made some effort to find a relationship. Traditionally icons show (ugly?) little pictures of the thing they do, such as turn on microphone, or display chat window. We decided to use icons that you might come to recognize over time and that we enjoy seeing in the space.
Leave Circle and return to The gathering.
Toggle microphone on and off.
Toggle camera on and off.
Circle mode is unlike anything seen in typical video-conference software. It begins our exploration of how it is to Circle in a 3D world. As the Circle gets larger you cannot see everyone at once, so you have to rotate or change perspective in some way to look at the person who has your attention. This is more like the real world experience of sitting in a circle of people, where you turn your head to see people in various places.
Focus mode allows a single person or image to fill your screen.
Gallery mode puts everyone into an equal-sized rectangle. This is an efficient way of seeing everyone at once and also feels chaotic when there are more than two or three people there. Perhaps we are not wired to put our focus equally on everyone all the time.
People view gives us information about who else is there are what they are doing. It's a tie to the sense that this Circle I am in right now is part of a larger community.
Chat view gives us a way to whisper privately or to announce something publicly without breaking into what is happening now.The central menu is the portal into more stuff we can do, such as sharing screen or streaming a video. More will be added here as we find the need or desire for it.
I like using text chat to greet someone or ask them to join a Circle with me. I also use it to find out whether it's a good time for me to join a Circle. In a Circle, I might use it to speak privately to someone.
Guillaume and I use this feature to play music and videos that keep us inspired. We have been also been using it to display pictures of people so that we can see what it looks like to have more people in the Circle. You could use this feature to play some music or a video to set the mood for a Circle. You can also use it to display an image that you want to share.