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Talk and write – stimulating Conference Calls combined with Lopad

September 11, 2013 | bit-wartung | Methods & Tools |

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In telephone calls and telephone conferences I very much like to use Lopad, because Lopad as a collaborative real-time online text editor allows real-time online collaboration.

 


By Carsten Schulz, Agridea

Are you facing the same problem? You are speaking by phone or Skype with somebody sitting elsewhere, or during a telephone conference – and you agree on something, but because of not sitting face-to-face it’s difficult to see the written notes of the other person.

By means of this small blog-post I want to present a very handy tool. Lopad! It’s a simple web-based tool for notes and works as a collaborative real-time text editor. It simultaneously allows several users to work on the same document, and see, what the others are writing, adding, deleting, contributing, correcting. The usability is extremely easy – and the functions quite rudimentary – but it has all functions to hold something in writting.

How to proceed with Lopad?

1. One person has to open a new lopad page on www.lopad.org

2. This person sends the link of the newly opened lopad page via email (or by the skype chat function) to the other participants
3. Participants click on the link, and everybody can see the same blank (or pre-filled) Lopad-Page
4. Now, all participants can start typing – and everybody can see what the others are capturing while talking and discussing.
5. The text is automatically saved , but only for 7 days. So that, after the online-meeting its outcome should be secured by copy-pasting it to an Email or a Word Document.

Advantages :

– No password, no registration required – just click and start typing
– Extremely easy to handle
– Lopad works very well with low bandwidth
– Important: Lopad works (up-to-now) inside the SDC IT environment
– If you use Lopad in combination with Skype (and the video function), a meeting is very pleasant, because you see each other face to face – and you simultaneously exchange your notes.

Disadvantages:

– Formatting is quite rudimentary
– Import function does not work particularly well; no whiteboard function
– Export function is not very handy (but with copypaste into a Word Document – no problem!)

Have you already used Lopad? What is YOUR favourite web-tool?

Here’s our playground Lopad

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Comments to“Talk and write – stimulating Conference Calls combined with Lopad”


  1. Dear Carsten,

    thanks for this interesting article, it is interesting to see how SDC struggles with these things, we are at Hivos in a similar situation.

    I wonder and maybe you have more information about it, who is behind Lopad.org. In principle they use or fork etherpad which is offered and used by many other organisations, for example Open Knowledge foundation http://new.okfnpad.org/ so why Lopad and how do they deal with privacy and security? or even what is their interest in offering it, their business model?

    Kind regards,
    Hapee

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  2. Dear Carsten,

    Thanks for introducing this tool – it’s really good to know options to serve this purpose.
    Can I ask you: from a first glimpse at Lopad, it seems that everything it offers you can also do on Google Docs – including the real-time update with multiple simultaneous users.
    Also in terms of bandwidth Google Docs doesn’t seem to do much worse – isn’t it?
    So what is your insight, why would you give Lopad preference over Google Docs?
    Thanks for sharing!
    -marc

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  3. We have been using this same etherpad open space clone (our site is http://www.meetingwords.com ) for a long time and have found it very useful as well. The import/export options are varied depending on who is hosting the instance of Etherpad (which, by the way, was bought by Google as a starting point for GoogleDocs, which present a similar option but without that ease of “no login required!)

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  4. Carsten Schulz says:

    Thanks Hapee, Marc and Nancy.
    Yes indeed, I am proposing a „retro-webtool“ among all existing fancy and sophisticated tools existing. But those (such as Google Docs) are not able to penetrate the Firewall of the Swiss Federal Administration (“this page cannot be displayed”) – which causes a lot of problems for SDC employees in connecting to the outer world…
    Don’t tell me why – in our tests with SDC employees, we found out that http://www.meetingwords.com was not working as reliable as http://www.lopad.org (maybe it’s already blacklisted!?) – although it’s the same platform (Etherpad Foundation – swallowed by Google Inc) but seems to be on a different server…
    That’s why we are constantly searching for tiny but useful tools, that can be used in all IT environments, regardless of high-speed combined with access restrictions – or low bandwidth and no restrictions….
    And very important: for most users the login is still a big hurdle – which doesn’t exist with my favourite „retro-webtool“ http://www.lopad.org

    Who knows another tiny but very useful webtool?

    Cheers
    Carsten

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  5. Hi Hapee,

    We (Aptivate) run Lopad. We pay for the server because we need this service all the time for our communications. We have no business model for it, it’s a public service. I’m sorry that it doesn’t say “Aptivate” on it, it should. And yes there are other Etherpads out there, this is only one, of course people can use another one if they prefer. Ours has been slightly optimised for low bandwidth compared to standard Etherpad.

    Cheers, Chris.

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  6. Hi! I work for Aptivate, a non-profit organisation that works in IT for international development. We host Lopad, for free, with no business model around it :-)

    It is provided “as-is” for ourselves and anyone else that wants to use it – I expect that it will remain available into the future, and we make no guarantees about any content on there. We do not go through the server logs and read anything that people put on there! Obviously, because there is no login, anyone that guesses or find the URL you have created could read whatever is written, so as with a lot of the internet, I wouldn’t assume that anything put on there is ‘private’.

    As pointed out here by others, we were experimenting with a clone of Etherpad, to look at it as a potential lower bandwidth tool than e.g. Google Docs. As someone else points out, users don’t need to log in to use it, which makes it attractive to get up and running fast in a meeting.

    I’m interested to hear how people found it, as we don’t make any effort to advertise it at the moment.

    People interested in a more secure version could look at https://pad.riseup.net/ .

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  7. Hi Hapee,

    We, Aptivate, host “lopad”. Our mission is to support IT in international development, in particular to promote greater participation globally. Designing for low bandwidth has been an obsession of our for the last 10 years.

    We were using Etherpad ourselves a lot before it got eaten by Google so we took a fork and hosted it as Lopad to run as a public service, particularly for the international development sector. Our origninal intention was to simplify it and reduced its bandwidth even further. Etherpad is written in Haskel which isn’t our specialty. We’re more into python, django, ruby, php and java.

    If there are any Haskel developers out there who’d like to volunteer and help us turn lopad into the lowest bandwidth collaboration tool in the universe, get in touch!

    We also run the free service loband.org. It simplifies web pages into a text-only form to help give access over slow connections.

    If you’ve got any ideas for low-bandwidth tools that would help collaboration, particularly in the development sector, do let us know.

    -Alan

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  8. Carsten Schulz says:

    Dear Chris, Tom and Allan

    Thank you very much indeed for your comments and add-on’s with regard to Lopad – and the services you are providing for international development. Shame on me that I’ve never heard from http://www.aptivate.org before.

    And thanks for sharing the improved version https://pad.riseup.net/ which I have bookmarked under my bookmark category “useful tiny web-tools”.

    Regards

    Carsten

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