Web conferencing technologies are not standardized, which has reduced interoperability and transparency and increased platform dependence, security issues, cost and market segmentation. In 2003, the IETF established a working group to establish a standard for web conferencing, called "Centralized Conferencing (xcon)".[6] The planned deliverables of xcon include:
Depending on the technology being used, participants may speak and listen to audio over standard telephone lines or via computer microphones and speakers. Some products allow for use of a webcam to display participants, while others may require their own proprietary encoding or externally provided encoding of a video feed (for example, from a professional video camera connected via an IEEE 1394 interface) that is displayed in the session.
Real-time text chat facilities such as IRC appeared in the late 1980s. Web-based chat and instant messaging software appeared in the mid-1990s. The PLATO computer learning system allowed students to collaborate on networked computers to accomplish learning tasks as early as the 1960s, but the early networking was not accomplished via the World Wide Web and PLATO's collaborative goals were not consistent with the presenter-audience dynamic typical of web conferencing systems.[8] PLATO II, in 1961, featured two users at once.[9]

The term "webcast" derives from its original similarity to a radio or television broadcast. Early usage referred purely to transmission and consumption of streaming audio and video via the World Wide Web. Over time, webcast software vendors have added many of the same functional capabilities found in webinar software, blurring the distinction between the two terms. Webcasts are now likely to allow audience response to polls, text communication with presenters or other audience members, and other two-way communications that complement the consumption of the streamed audio/video content.


In 1996, PlaceWare was founded as a spinoff from Xerox PARC. In November of that year, PlaceWare Auditorium was described in a public talk at Stanford University as allowing "one or more people to give an interactive, online, multimedia presentation via the Web to hundreds or thousands of simultaneous attendees; the presentation can include slides (made in PowerPoint or any GIF-image editor), live annotation on the slide images, real-time polls of the audience, live audio from the presenter and those asking questions, private text and audio conversations in the auditorium's "rows", and other features."[18] PlaceWare Auditorium was formally announced in March 1997 at a price of $150 per simultaneous user.[19]
For the example above, this might sound like, “If you’re tired of people asking to pass you on the golf course, this product is for you. Imagine how it will feel when you start winning games, and accepting business golf match invitations, because you’re confident in your newfound golf game. This program can help you make steady improvement that you’ll begin seeing within a couple of rounds.”
You’re already a big winner when you’re in front of your webinar audience. Participants were interested enough in your content to register, hold space on their calendar, then show up attentively to your webinar. They have self-qualified themselves as being in the market for the type of product or service you offer, and think you’re the God of SEO (or whatever your schpeel is on).
For the example above, this might sound like, “If you’re tired of people asking to pass you on the golf course, this product is for you. Imagine how it will feel when you start winning games, and accepting business golf match invitations, because you’re confident in your newfound golf game. This program can help you make steady improvement that you’ll begin seeing within a couple of rounds.”
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