The conferencing facility available on most modern telephone exchanges is
extremely useful. Many commercial analogue Video/Audio
conferencing systems offer an analogous service. What characterizes
these services is the lack of structure to the conference; a common
complaint is that it is hard to work out which person on a screen is
the new speaker. This paper outlines the design of a conferencing system
for windowing workstations, and looks at some of the possibilities for
powerful <#1176#> floor control mechanisms<#1176#> beyond the simple-minded (and probably
un-manageable) multi-way version of talk.
Talk is a simple minded program that divides the screen on a
dumb terminal into two areas. What the user types appears in ``their''
half on their screen, and the ``other'' half on the other terminal.
The users may type simultaneously, and the sequence of output will be
interleaved almost arbitrarily on the other user's screen. The
program is extended over the network so that users with terminals
attached to different hosts may use the facility in a network
transparent way (excepting delays). This is done using a reliable byte
stream protocol appropriate for one to one communication.
The system is limited to two parties.