Interview by iChat

My editor was pressuring me. I had stalled on my next technology article for the Fall 2004 issue of our publication, the mcli Forum. I had waited too long to do interviews with some faculty (there are some coo, things some folks are doing with teaching GPS… maybe in the Spring…)

What would I do?

Then a flash of brilliance (or I thought, maybe it was the lights flickering down the hall).

Since we were introducing wikis via our Ocotillo Action Groups, an interview with someone that could talk profoundly about wikis would be key. Like Brian Lamb, who just wrote the great article on wikis in EDUCAUSE Review.

My flash was asking Brian if I could conduct an interview via iChat. I could have done an email interview, but this sounded more spontaneous. And fun.

I have to say it worked well. I got about 15 questions answered thoughtfully by Brian in about an hour of time. I was able to save the transcript from the session, and pretty much copy paste it into Word, edit it down, and Voila! a draft, and a happy editor.

What worked well? I think a key factor was writing my questions in advance and emailing them to Brian. He could be somewhat prepared. During the interview, I could cut and paste the questions in, but also skipped some, and created others on the fly.

This would be very easy to set up as a lesson assignment for students. Doing an interview by email is very viable, but there is not the back and forth real time exchange that happens in chat.

I’ll be able to share the article and the full chat transcript after we publish in November. It has a memorable catchy, metaphoric title. Yes, I am teasing and with-holding, but I have to respect my editor’s wishes ;-)

I’d easily do this again in the future. I am sure I will once again get hit by a looming deadline. You can bet it on it.

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. What about a video or audio interview with Brian through iChat? Easy enough to capture and edit, although I haven’t tried it myself.

  2. I have not done any interview by iChat or anything like that but I think it is very reasonable to do it. I will try it if I have a chance. I wonder whether you have asked any follow-up questions. It seems to me that interviewing with a synchronous is superior to interviewing with email because if you feel something is not clear or if you want to ask follow-up questions then you can ask questions immediately.

  3. Yes, Bekir, I ended up during the interview dropping 3-4 questions and asking about 5 follow-ups… it definitely felt more like an interview than an email exchange.

    It does put a burden on the subject to be able to type out their thoughts coherently… I should have added I shared a draft after the session so Brian could fill in some holes.

    Gerry- I did not record- last time I checked (a year ago) I could not find a software that would allow me to record a video iChat. I am hoping for some major improvements when Tiger hits the streets in 2005.

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