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This was something that came up recently in the homotopy theory chat room. Even if it wasn't to homotopy theory, has MO ever considered asking active users with interesting research to host lectures or seminars in chat rooms specifically for this purpose? They could of course be in rooms where only perhaps a few people had speaking privileges, or something along those lines, to prevent everyone from just talking incessantly. One benefit of this also would be that even people who aren't on MO could lurk and possibly learn something.

Has anyone considered this before?

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    $\begingroup$ Sounds interesting, but I'm not sure if the chat is a good medium for it. I think there should be another tool for presenting the main material and chat could be used to support it. Maybe one could simply provide a slideshow and keep telling which slide to look at. If the seminar is supposed to be useful afterwards, all interrupting comments (these should be allowed from several people!) and supporting material should be included. Did you have specific plans about the technical realization? $\endgroup$ – Joonas Ilmavirta Jan 4 '15 at 20:53
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    $\begingroup$ If such online lecture should have advantages over simply providing a PDF file, I think it clearly needs to be interactive -- i.e. everybody needs to be able to ask questions. $\endgroup$ – Stefan Kohl Jan 4 '15 at 21:26
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    $\begingroup$ I will echo what I said in chat and suggest that a live Khan academy style presentation (with audio) might be very well suited for such a seminar. It would allow the lecturer to easily make any needed diagrams and relieve endless MathJax coding. $\endgroup$ – Espen Nielsen Jan 4 '15 at 23:12
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    $\begingroup$ I'd like to take a(nother) poll, and ask you to upvote this comment if you like this idea. $\endgroup$ – user62675 Jan 4 '15 at 23:41
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    $\begingroup$ Upvote this comment if you dislike this idea. $\endgroup$ – user62675 Jan 4 '15 at 23:41
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    $\begingroup$ Back, back, way back, in the early days of the math.SE chatroom, I suggested something like that. The response wasn't quite enthusiastic, and there were good arguments against that. I just can't remember any of them right now. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Jan 5 '15 at 10:30
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    $\begingroup$ @Asaf, the repeated objections, for various versions of the idea, were largely that the software was not fast enough for real-time interaction with, say, actual handwriting onscreen, second that it was asking quite a lot of the lecturer. Both items would change with software changes over time... $\endgroup$ – Will Jagy Jan 5 '15 at 23:46
  • $\begingroup$ @Will: Do you remember the historical events (read: did you dig through logs and old comments)? or are you making hypotheses? Because I can't recall those as the arguments against. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Jan 5 '15 at 23:48
  • $\begingroup$ @Asaf, I'm not guessing, but we could be referring to different threads. I think mine was within the homotopy chat room, after the two had been successfully merged into one chat room that was owned by MO rather than something else. One idea hinged on writing directly onto the screen; people do use such things two people at a time, sort of Skype with a blackboard, no memory of what it's called. The other thing never got defined really, just the idea of guest lecturers; as matters stood, lots of work to do a lecture real time. $\endgroup$ – Will Jagy Jan 6 '15 at 0:10
  • $\begingroup$ @Will: It appears we do refer to completely different things then. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Jan 6 '15 at 0:12
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    $\begingroup$ @Asaf, I guess, Here is a question I posted on Meta in hopes of dealing with one issue, the online blackboard: meta.mathoverflow.net/questions/405/… $\endgroup$ – Will Jagy Jan 6 '15 at 0:13
  • $\begingroup$ Hmm, so the votes seem to be very close. But then again, it's only about a week since the poll began. How long should the poll go on for? $\endgroup$ – user62675 Jan 11 '15 at 14:39
  • $\begingroup$ @SanathDevalapurkar, perhaps until you have enough people who are interested in participating in a seminar. I suppose the number of people who dislike the idea is irrelevant, as long as you have enough people on the other side to get the thing started. $\endgroup$ – Joonas Ilmavirta Jan 13 '15 at 11:12
  • $\begingroup$ Here is link to the discussion on meta.math.SE mentioned by @Asaf: RFC: Chat Seminars $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Aug 24 '15 at 10:03
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This is just a comment that may be a bit too long for the comment section:

Does your idea include video chat and the like?

In the quantum information community, we have Q+ Hangouts that hosts realtime online seminars. At each hangout event, a speaker gives a talk via Google Hangouts (... I think they're doing it this way), and the audience can participate (e.g., asking for clarification). So, it's like a seminar over a video conference/meeting tool. Each hangout is also recorded and posted to youtube for people who couldn't make it to the realtime event. I don't know much about this kind of technology, but I guess text based chat can be incorporated somehow.

I haven't attended Q+ Hangouts realtime myself, but it's a very nice small community event. Recorded hangout events alone are already nice. If dedicated MO contributors give talks like this online or if MO hosts interactive online seminars through the same tool or a similar one, I'm very interested.

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