Richi Jennings

Gather round the Campfire (and LED throwies!)

February 17, 2006 2:28 AM EST
In today's IT Blogwatch, we look at gathering around the Campfire. Not to mention LED darts or throwies ...

What else would you do around a Campfire but chat!  Although one particular scene from an old movie about campfires and baked beans didn't include a lot of chat, sorry I deviate. In fact as John Jantsch puts it "Chat is one of those tools that was created with the teenager in mind, not the business person ... the businessperson's answer to this dilemma. It's called Campfire ...  makes group chat easy

    * Every chat has a permanent URL
    * Campfire chats don't require special chat software or networks
    * Instantly share and discuss files with your colleagues/clients
    * Search or browse through transcripts of past chats
    * Chat securely over SSL (Plus and Premium plans)
no one, guest or member, has to worry about which platform the chat is on is what will really make this service take-off. A tool this powerful has the ability to impact traditional forms of communication. For example: What about a group mastermind that is scheduled, produced and recorded as premium content."

» Nextweb, TypePad: "The newest web app from 37Signals has officially launched. Campfire is a browser based group chat application ...  The idea of having a permanent URL home for each chat session is great, sounds like a excellent way to have a lengthy debate or discussion with a historical record of what was said. As well as a way for people not involved at every moment to catch up on what was said."

» Headphonaught:  "I could see this expanding into personal too if the cost fell. I could see social/ family groupings sharing ideas and generally keeping in touch. What makes it different? Every chat has a permanent URL and they don't require special chat software or networks. It also allows you to instantly share and discuss files with multiple colleagues/ clients/ friends at once across the globe... in real time. On my watchlist"

» David Heinemeier Hansson, 37signal developer: "the resources and the Ajax work has definitely paid off. Campfire feels as natural as a web-page and IRC at the same time. File sharing actually works and we do inline image previews to really spice it up. And most importantly, it's something that we really, really need ourselves. I've found that's been the best way for us to do something interesting: Just need it!  This is also the 37signals graduation project for Sam Stephenson and Marcel Molina, who both joined the company in December. So I'm naturally very proud of both of them and happy to share a "ship it!" moment with them. So check out our 4th launch and Ruby on Rails-based product. We hope you'll find it as useful as we have.  Read: 37signals launch: The Campfire is lit."

» An interesting post from Karsten Wolf:: "37signals gets a lot of media buzz these days and their new product Campfire, a simple web-based group chat gets its share as well. I am one of the developers of EverLearn, an integrated learning environment / LCMS / learning community server / you name it, which has a Campfire-like chat for two years now. Do we will bitter [not sure what was trying to be said] that CampFire is all buzz now? No, it just shows us, that we are working in the right direction and that our new project coming later this year will be at last two years ahead :) This time, we have people on board for marketing and business, though… Great times ahead!"

» Barry Campbell:  "This would be a terrific adjunct to, or even in some cases replacement for, teleconferencing or videoconferencing ... Campfire is the newest project from 37signals–the same folks who also run Basecamp (web-based project management) and Backpack (personal and small business information organizer). They’re currently offering a 30-day free trial; it’s worth a look, especially if you collaborate on projects with people in farflung locations."

» Not everyone is excited about this as comments to Om Malik atest, Jeremy:  "Virtually all of these features are available from Skype chat, the ability to have group chats (which can quickly be turned into a conference call), file sharing to multiple people at once, persistant chat and archives, and secure chat. Of course, some people will have issues because their IT department won’t let them install Skype at work, but my guess is that those are the kinds of enterprise people that 37Signals is targeting anyway."  Whilst Mike Masnick isn't having much success with Campfire:  "Ugh. They should have cooked the beta a little longer. We’ve been trying to get it to work all evening and it’s chock full of errors ... Not impressed so far. Will try to check back in a week or so, but we’re not switching from Skype as our small business chat environment if this is what we get."

Buffer overflow: And finally...  LED darts or throwies
Richi Jennings (has gone to another timezone, temporarily, so the antipodean is blogging this week) is an independent technology and marketing consultant, specializing in email, blogging, Linux, and computer security. A 20 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. Contact Richi at Also contributing to today's post: Judi Dey, our very own Antipodean.