Aside from the President's trip to Iraq, where he could meet people in person, a videoconference was held between members of the US Cabinet at Camp David and Prime Minister Maliki's government in Baghdad. A photograph of the video conference is shown below. It's the kind of virtual meeting which in its essentials is being duplicated in private businesses and homes all around the world.
Conferencing for ordinary users has been available for some time using Instant Messaging (IM) clients. Depending on the bandwidth available people in different locations can interact by text, audio and video. Even just text IM can be quite powerful. On the day Zarqawi was killed I was on IM with people from three different countries at the same time. Although we weren't in the same session (we could have been) it was a eerie to pass "say hello" messages to friends located in different continents. Audio IM permits the equivalent of telephone calls or telephone conference calls. The video chat available to ordinary users essentially delivers the same functionality as the Camp David video conference though low-resolution webcams must suffice in place of the high quality video shown in the picture above. That's not always a disadvantage. Low resolution webcams are actually kinder to users who work in grunge rather than regular business attire because it is possible to adjust the camera to conceal the cheesey furniture and clothing or at least minimize their impact.
One problem with the videoconferencing arrangements at Camp David is that the video displays are located at the far end of the room making them hard to see from people looking at an angle. Maybe the videoconferencing arrangements would improve by supplementing the screens at the end of the room with individual monitors at each participant's chair, possibly as laptops. That would ruin the visuals though because the participants would no longer gaze at a central point, as they would in a normal meeting, and instead be all staring down at their screens. Not very dignified posture but probably better for comprehension.
In some ways ordinary consumers may have more capabilities. One of the more interesting features of the Mac is it's ability to engage in multiway conferencing through IChat, software which allows up to four people in different locations (if they have the bandwidth) to participate in a simulated meeting. (There's no cheap way for Windows users to get a multiway video conference capability that I've been able to find, but maybe I haven't looked hard enough). One can imagine a scenario where US cabinet members can multiway with their Iraqi counterparts and bring in anyone they think is necessary and then move out again the big one on one between the two cabinets. But it's not clear the system at Camp David has multiway. It's cool to know that the videoconferencing tools connecting President Bush and Prime Minister Maliki are available in consumer versions to anyone with a broadband connection willing to setup the tools on his computer.