Zooming In, Zooming Out
This pandemic has brought us all together in ways we would never have imagined! In addition to appreciating all our healthcare workers and everyday people in our lives, we have become connected to each other “virtually,” in many cases through the application called Zoom.
I was first introduced to Zoom through a west coast Silicon Valley client a few years back as a way to work virtually with a team that was spread out geographically. I remembered trying to use technologies like this at the NYSE years ago, but the technologies were not yet mature or economical enough to truly work. Not anymore. Zoom has become the way that businesses and families have been communicating face to face through this crazy time. But it comes with the need to know how to use it.
For instance, I have noticed that several people don’t recognize that if they have a bright light behind them, that they will appear as if they are in the witness protection program. Their entire figure will be darkened and unrecognizable. While some may prefer this approach, it really defeats the purpose. The only thing missing is the voice scrambler to change the persons speech to protect the innocent.
Then there are those that no matter how hard they try; they continue to not recognize that they are on mute and cannot be heard by anyone else on the call. This usually results in other people trying to give that person hand signals to tell them to unmute themselves. Literally the only time in the world when someone might say that to another human being.
Because the technology quickly changes focus to the person talking, if one person continues to dominate the discussion, it becomes impossible to actually participate in the conversation. This usually results in some people just slumping in their chairs completely giving up until the other person tires themselves out.
Occasionally, the opposite will happen, that is, with several people on the Zoom call, no one has anything to say. So, in those situations you find yourself staring at everyone just staring back at you, and try as you may, it becomes impossible to come up with anything meaningful to say.
Zoom also has a feature that allows you to change the background to either some preset backgrounds or some other that you import. In this case you will see a person floating in mid-air speaking to you from some celestial setting. Very unsettling to say the least. Until recently, Zoom had some security bugs which allowed others to crash your Zoom meeting and either draw on the screen or leave a message or comment that would be most certainly unwelcome. Zoom highly recommends using a password for that reason.
I guess in the future, Zoom will add Avatars that allow computer generated images to speak on our behalf rather than have to look at yourself looking back at yourself. It is amazing that the networks supporting this technology and the compression algorithms that allow this to happen are now household everyday items. It appears that Zoom is here to stay and will probably only get better and easier to use, probably right through our TV sets. I wished I owned the stock! Happy Zooming!!
By Lou Pastina