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    Fascinating. There mightbe some implications for informal team meetings here too, along with parties. (Or hell, they could be the same thing) The dynamic grouping thing, especially, caught my eye. If you think of a dinner party, you meet in small-ish groups, say 2-5, chat some on a topic, then wander off, listening and observing the room around to to see if anything else is going on that’s interesting.

    This is sort of half-way between Hangout’s “show one person only” approach and some kind of tiled Brady Bunch approach. But those two approaches also have value! Would be fun to play with these ideas some more.

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      The main problem with subgroups, I think, is how to achieve certain isolation (so that you can, for example, gossip about other people at the party) but at the same time make it easy for people to wander around and join different subgroups.

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        Mozilla Hubs solves this by being a lightweight 3D environment (well, lightweight for 3D) where the sound is spatial:

        Users embody 3D models […] Spatial audio means that you can break off into small groups and have conversations that broadcast your voice based on your position near others in the room. — Exploring Collaboration and Communication with Mozilla Hubs

        I wonder whether there are any chat apps that also have spatial audio, but do the embodiment as a 2D room plan so as to be less CPU-intensive (and perhaps more mouse-friendly)? Although spatial audio is (or isn’t?) perhaps CPU-intensive on its own; I remember that when the audio-only game Papa Sangre came out, its binaural audio engine that ran on an iPhone processor was considered quite a technical feat.

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          You know, if you just had something like “three groups nearest us” with a text stream, even if it’s only a crappy speech-to-text deal, it might at least provide some stimulus to switch around.

          Not only is the UI problematic, but if there’s any friction at all people are just going to camp out somewhere, defeating the goal.

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        At a party, non-verbal communication (facial expressions, gestures) is crucial.

        Maybe that explains why I as a blind person (well, low vision, but practically blind for this purpose) tend to be bored at parties, unless I manage to get into an interesting conversation with a person or small group. Somehow I never made that connection before.

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          That’s interesting. I do have some experience with how hearing-impaired people party, but I have no idea about blind people. Would you mind to share some details?

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          So I really want to build something on top of jitsi videobridge for this but I am having trouble with the details.

          This is what I roughly want:

          I’d like to be able to choose who I see on the call, and to coordinate in some way that focus.

          I’d like the call to have a sense of place. A party usually has multiple conversations going on and a way to fluidly go between them. I’d like if there was a way to use audio to tune out conversations “further away” and have a means to join other conversations. The video analogue might be size of people’s heads in the video. I can imagine a skeuomorphism where there is a rectangle representing “the room”, and I can choose where I stand and people closer to me in the room are softer or louder based on how close they are to me.

          This would allow things like a DJ to be placed somewhere in the room and people to loosely communicate who they want to talk to while being roughly available for others to join in and see be able to hear conversations roughly going on in the room in general.

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            Funny that they didn’t mention House Party.

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              Only did this once and that’s the first time I used Zoom and I have to say I liked their UI best for this kind of setting. Teams is worst, Hangouts is ok, Jitsi Meet is ok, but just Zoom showed one big image and a band of many small images - I think we were 15 and you could actually see people’s faces.