Beyond Skype

Skype is probably still the obvious software for a simple 2-person discussion, if only because we’re all pretty much familiar with it.  But there are now new kids on the technology block, that we are experimenting with at the moment.

Two in particular are Blab and, that each allow us, in effect, to offer ‘live on air’ broadcasting, in real time – without a studio or other high technology and great expense, but from your office or home, your laptop, or even your smartphone.

Please read on as we explain the use, and the potential, of each, and how they could prove vital tools in the development of PIEs and the PIElink community.


The software (note there is apparently no capital letter) works in similar way to Blab, the main differences being

  • no need to register or download software; you just click a link to join
  • 'narrowcasting' - an invitation only broadcast. 
  • up to eight participants at a time (on screen or off)

So for a managers’ group, or a modest-sized action learning set, or any discussion where some degree of confidentiality is important, may be the better option. 

This software, because it is so un-demanding, also seems probably the most suitable for 'entry level' discussions, such as with new registering members. The 'Virtual Drop In' therefore currently uses

Here at PIElink we intend to use both Blab and, as they clearly have different strengths.

Blabs can reach more people at any one time; and a Blab is currently easier to record (and edit) and so may be used for producing more formal training material in the future.

Whereas has the immediacy (nothing to download and install, no need to register, no use of Twitter account), and the exceptional ease of use. 

Upcoming broadcasts and webinars will be announced here on the PIElink, in our monthly newsletter and via our Twitter account.


Blab offers users the abilities to host a live video broadcast, known as a Blab. Each Blab has up to 4 seats on the screen, which can be occupied by anyone in the world provided they have an account and a webcam.

Others - any number of others - can watch 'from the sides', and comment on the action, in writing, on a side panel. That means that Blab discussions are not private, as anyone can follow the blab, ask questions and get involved, and viewers can even ask to take a seat and become visible, and part of the broadcast.

Blab's main strength is that any number of people can participate; and it broadcasts to the whole world, so it's great for spreading the network.  Blab also records, and a good talk can later be edited, with keywords added, and archived.

PIElink editor Robin Johnson, with colleague Ray Middleton of Fulfilling Lives, Newcastle and Gateshead,and others, has been experimenting with Blab, and it's something we're keen to use. Below, to the left, is a recent Blab pilot recorded with Robin and Ray  To the right, the accompanying image illustrates the live blab with the viewers' comments and questions running alongside. 

pielink on blab

You'll see this broadcast begins with two speakers (one in Newcastle, one in Cornwall) who had planned this talk.

Some others, off screen, ask questions.

These first two on screen are then joined by a third (in Bristol) who, as it happens, had only heard of this technology and the discussions a few minutes earlier.

It really IS that easy to join and use, with one proviso........

Signing up & Joining Blab

To sign up and into a Blab conversation, you must first create a Twitter account. But don’t worry. You don’t have to actually use Twitter after that (though you might decide to try?). You can simply use it to join these discussions. 

The video(s) below will walk you through the process.

Here a short video on signing up to Twitter

Here a short video on signing into a Blab discussion