Vyew and the Hazards of Web 2.0

In our collaboration tools wiki, we mention dozens of new and interesting sites and utilities that make it easy for people to work with each other online.  Although we don't use all of these tools, we've tried a lot of them, and Vyew is one of the tools I really wanted to like.  After all, it's one of the few online meeting services that offers free meetings for up to 20 participants. 

Two weeks ago, I wanted to use Vyew to give a presentation and demo to my co-workers, so I set up my Vyew meeting room -- it allowed me to personalize the room name, which was great.  It also had all the features I needed for my meeting.  The morning of the presentation, I tried to log in to Vyew to make sure everything was ready for the meeting -- only to find that I couldn't get in.  For some reason, Vyew had suddenly realized that I had a firewall, and wouldn't grant access to my meeting room.

No big deal -- when you're working with Web 2.0 tools issues like these happen from time to time.  Usually they are easily resolved.  So I emailed Vyew support and asked for some help with my problem.  Because my meeting was only a couple of hours away, I was not completely surprised that I did not hear from Vyew before the meeting started.  However, it has been nearly two weeks since the meeting, and I still haven't heard from Vyew.  Needless to say, I was forced to use another meeting service, which turned out to be much more reliable.  Now, I was using Vyew's free service, so at least I wasn't out any money -- but what if I had purchased a Plus or Professional plan?  Would I get the same level of support?

The lesson here:  Web 2.0 tools are being developed every day, and the infrastructure of each will vary depending on how much funding/staff they have.  Before you invest your time or money in one of these tools for your mission-critical work activities, make sure you can rely on the service to work as advertised.  In Vyew's case, the technology worked pretty well -- it was the support that was sorely absent.  Frankly, some of the Web 2.0 tools we mention in the wiki are not ready for prime time.  Make sure you know what you're getting into before using a tool for something really important.