Google+ has just extended its Hangouts feature (e.g. video chat/conferencing) to apply to specific posts.
This is pretty cool for reasons I'll explain below. But first, a short story for context...
Just yesterday in the SS&PP department meeting we were discussing methods of sharing information with each other with the example being an informal session I'd hosted for Wilson Reference staff on the World Bank Data site. Van Houlson sat in because he happened to be S30C at the time and said he'd found it really useful (thanks Van!).
However, he wished that he had something he could go back to later to refer to as needed, but it seemed like no part of www.lib.umn.edu really fit with this need.
I pointed out that even if we did have such a space - and I agree that we don't in www.lib.umn.edu - my session was aimed at librarians anyway. I presumed lots of knowledge on the part of the audience and focused on elements of the World Bank Data site that would be of benefit in a reference situation.
However, Google+ _can_ meet this need.
- It lets you target posts to specific audiences (reference staff or your department or your students)
- You retain access to the posts long after the fact & you can bookmark them, +1 them or save them to special circles for finding again later
- It now has hangouts attached to each post
So, instead of hosting sessions in S30C limited to staff who are physically present, I could write a post about using the World Bank Data site, invite people to discuss it via hangouts and participants could bookmark/+1/whatever it for their own use.
This would require that UMN staff adopt Google+ pretty broadly, but it might be worth it for precisely this kind of use.
Also, you can imagine how hangouts attached to specific posts could be used for instruction, class discussions, group projects, etc.