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July 24, 2007

CircleUp - a message coordination service

When everyone has a personal learning environment, with their own email or IM or whatever accounts from wherever they've got them, how do you manage that variety when you need to address an aggregation of people as a single entity? CircleUp is a service that uses preferred communication channels of individuals (email, IM, SMS) to deliver a question and then collate back the results as a single collated response to the requester.

I haven't tried the service yet, but it would seem to be an example of the kinds of coordination services that can compensate for the fragmentation of tools and services resulting from using personal rather than organisationally-managed technologies.

There are several aspects to this I like the look of:

  1. Each recipient can use a completely different service using a different protocol, according to their own preference
  2. The messages are received in the normal manner for the recipient's technology - although the response has to be entered into a special widget rather than a regular reply
  3. The messages appear to be sent by the requester, not an anonymous service robot
  4. Rather than simply dozens (or hundreds, or thousands) of responses, the reply is attenuated automatically by the service into a single digestable response, such as a graph of choices, Yes/No vote etc.

Overall, this seems to make good sense from a systems (i.e. cybernetic) viewpoint, and especially in an educational (PLE) context. Of course, I still have to find time to actually try it out!

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