As the Covid-19 pandemic wears on, more and more of life has moved online — school, playdates, conferences, civic events, court proceedings, and even weddings. According to Wired, more than 450,000 couples were married between March and May 2020, at the height of coronavirus lockdowns. A whole industry has sprung up around Zoom weddings, with services like Wedfuly offering professionally produced events complete with virtual photographers, DJs, and the bandwidth to handle up to 1,000 guests.
Most people assume that online weddings are a new thing. But they’re not. The first online wedding occurred almost 150 years ago, in 1876.
Back in March when I first started spending my days on video calls, I used my laptop camera as it came: angled back, unflatteringly aimed up my face, and into my nostrils. Behind me, light from a window blew out the image, rendering me the sort of anonymous silhouette that might have kidnapped your family. A good 60% of the shot was my ceiling. I was a digital “Kilroy was here,” my face and nose poking out from the bottom of the screen.
I have evolved. With my new setup, I use an iPad to Zoom. It’s become a dedicated…
On Wednesday, Google made its premium videoconferencing app, Google Meet, free for everyone. At the start of April, Microsoft’s Skype added a feature that allowed users to jump into a call by clicking one link. Both companies seem to be playing catch up to the suddenly popular Zoom, even though they’re dominant tech megacorporations that have been offering competing products for the better part of a decade.
For most of the early 2010s, Skype and Hangouts (which eventually became Meet) set the standard for video chat apps. So, how did Zoom come out ahead?
Like so many families, mine is trying to keep things together during the pandemic by scheduling Zoom time. We Zoom to celebrate birthdays and holidays, catch up, and pass the time by playing games and solving puzzles. This is the new normal of socially distancing together.
Unfortunately, I’ve started experiencing what’s come to be known as “Zoom burnout,” or sheer exhaustion after so many video chats. Don’t get me wrong: A locked-down world without video calls would be significantly worse — more socially isolating and economically devastating. …
Since the coronavirus started spreading, our little computer and phone cameras have become windows from our isolation, looking into other people’s lives, catching glimpses of pets, children, and spouses in the background of video calls. I find these moments deeply humanizing; reminders that we’re not perfect work machines, just people trying to do the best we can. Our hair is messy, our faces poorly framed and lit. Sometimes we leave the mic on when we go to the bathroom.
Through this tiny lens we see the ambient background of life: people working in kitchens, bedrooms or spare rooms, the hoarded…
Tania Elliott, MD, a telemedicine provider who specializes in immunology, says preparing for a video visit with a patient is a lot like setting up for a TV broadcast. “Set up your computer in front of a bookshelf or a wall with a painting — you don’t want your camera to face a door, since it gives the patient the sense you might leave,” she says. “And always wear your white coat and make sure your face is framed with the camera.
For more than three weeks now, both my partner and I have been working from home to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus. I’m grateful to have a job I can do remotely. But sitting at my desk on video calls all day quickly became tiring, especially with my partner doing the same for much of her day, in the same room.
At my actual office, meeting rooms are equipped with video conferencing equipment mounted to TVs. The video quality is much better than a camera on an average MacBook, and being able to sit at a distance makes…
Once you have the fundamentals down (mute yourself if you’re chewing, and please, for the love of Pete, wear a shirt), it’s time to think about breaking up the general meh-ness of our videocam future with some fun. Here’s an idea to start: themed video meetings. Before you roll your eyes, let me explain.
In one way, at least, I was prepared for this crisis. I’m an author of books about technology and society, and I make my living traveling around the world giving speeches to people who would rather listen than read. Over the past couple of years, however, I’ve been doing an increasing number of my speaking appearances over the internet. It’s better for the environment, there’s less wear and tear on my body, it saves money, and I don’t have to block out as many dates on my Google Calendar.
What I didn’t realize is how much my work refining the…
The uniting factor behind most of the jobs I’ve had — at a restaurant group, in PR, and in media — was the wasteful meetings. They were, almost universally, terrible. No matter how good the rest of the work environment was, the meetings were slogs to be suffered through: much too long, unfocused and rambling, so boring that sometimes I’d struggle to pay attention.
The exception was at my first real media job. Most of the employees were remote, and each morning, most of us dialed in to a 10-minute video chat where we would briefly discuss any important things…
The undercurrents of the future. A publication from Medium about technology and people.