Method and apparatus for providing group interaction via communications networks

  • US 7,478,129 B1
  • Filed: 09/12/2006
  • Issued: 01/13/2009
  • Est. Priority Date: 04/18/2000
  • Status: Active Grant
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First Claim
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1. A system for facilitating interpersonal communications over a computer network, comprising:

  • a plurality of computers, each computer having a memory, a processor storing and retrieving instructions from the memory, and a network interface operably connecting the processor to a communications medium;

    a communications module receiving content from an originating computer and transmitting said content to at least one target computer, with each of the computers being able to function as both an originating computer and a target computer;

    a graphical communication flow module integrated with the communications module and providing to each of the computers a graphical representation of a group of networked computers, said graphical communication flow module graphically depicting communication flows showing the originating and target computer users corresponding to each content transmission by the communications module, and having means to graphically depict the communication flows in a manner perceptible to users of all the computers connected to a virtual group; and

    wherein the graphical communications flow module has at least one means selected from the group comprising;

    a) means to graphically depict that a communications flow is intended by an originator to target all computer users connected to the group of networked computers who are participating in a virtual meeting of the virtual group;

    b) means to graphically depict the intended target of each communication flow occurring between computer users participating in a group meeting;

    c) means to graphically depict more than one type of communication occurring between users participating in a group meeting;

    d) means to graphically depict the originators and targets of more than one communications flow occurring simultaneously between computer users participating in the group meeting;

    e) means to enable the originating users to graphically distinguish between communications flows that they intend to be primary and communications flows that they intend to be secondary;

    f) means to enable an originator to transmit a hidden communications flow to only one target, while indicating the originator and target of the hidden communications flow in a manner perceptible to all users participating in the group meeting; and

    g) means to select at least one type of graphical display of communication flows during the group meeting.

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