I was recently contacted by Dennis Clark, head of Reference at the Texas A&M Libraries, about OU’s Skype a Librarian pilots. He expressed interest in how video is working in terms of public services, which is unfortunately not a question that can be answered in a few words – I’m still working on a series of longer posts on our experiences developing Skype reference and will publish the first of these soon. Dennis had the excellent notion of trying out TokBox as a video reference tool – a recent New York Times writeup gives a good account of how TokBox works. The startup was also blogged by TechCrunch back in August.
A screenshot of the TokBox chat interface:
In a nutshell, Tokbox is video chat site that features social components (contact list), video mail (excellent idea), and an embeddable widget that you can add to virtually any site (which unfortunately is not cooperating with WordPress at the moment – anyone else having this problem?)
Tokbox is basically the Meebo to Skype reference’s IM, if you get my meaning – users don’t have to have a Tokbox account to take advantage of the widget. It may not be as pliable or consistent as Skype for kiosk service due to its web-based status, but I can see many uses for this technology. Dennis said it’s already working well for him in Facebook, for example.
Here’s a post on possible downsides of Tokbox. Also check out ooVoo, a similar video chat service.