We are developing ever more elaborate technologies for collaboration and communication. Yet I still haven’t seen anything quite as wonderful as the old fashioned whiteboard.

What is it about a whiteboard that makes it such a perfect vehicle for collaboration? Is it the physicality of it, the merging of information technology with body language?

At least for shared ideating, no communication medium that uses computers seems to be able to compete with this simple and purely physical interface. I wonder whether anything ever will.

Wouldn’t it be interesting if the answer to that question turns out to be no.

5 thoughts on “Whiteboard”

  1. When you go to use a whiteboard, there is usually some problem you are trying to solve or complex idea you are trying to share. That is not a time you want to be given a new problem to deal with.

    The only thing that can really go wrong with a whiteboard is the pen running out and in that case, you simply pick up another one. There is no latency. There is no freezing and having to wait or an updates required. It is very simple and very reliable.

    The less parts of a system to go wrong the better. Can you build a whiteboard replacement with less parts?

  2. I’m not sure it comes down to fewer parts, but rather to the other points you made. A whiteboard is highly responsive and highly protean. It gives us none of the advantages of computers, but — clearly more important so far — none of the disadvantages.

    We’ll see whether computer based interfaces eventually advance to the point where they allow us a better whiteboard. That would be pretty cool, but I’m not going to hold my breath.

  3. The main problem with white boards is they are not where I need them – they are someplace else (and the ink is dry and the board is messy with someone elses stuff that I am not comfortable erasing and..).

    No question that we will have an incredibly responsive, collaborative thought processor someday soon. The key is eliminating friction to access it, learn to use it and share it. We will have a portable shared responsive surface – it will be a killer app for the AR platform five years from now.

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