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kleinbl00  ·  317 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: How to Self Quarantine

I handed in the bid documents on a major airport expansion on September 10, 2001.

Everyone that was anyone was talking about how post-9/11 was going to be the golden age of videoconferencing, much as they'd done in the '90s and the '80s and '70s and '60s. Used to be you'd go to Kinko's and spend $100 an hour to sit in a room with a few cameras and a fast data connection - who wouldn't want in on that hot business? I mean, I called up a video switch manufacturer and said "how big is that Epica you put in at the New York Stock Exchange? You think you could do bigger?" because some shithead figured things would be cheaper for the prison if they did "video visitation" so I needed a way for 200 inmates to communicate at once.

Of course, you either help design a prison and go "yay law'n'order" or you start to question your career and then do something else. Meanwhile Skype eliminates the entire sector and preposterously large switches lose three whole decimal points off their value.

Here's the thing.

You need to look 'em in the eye, and your peripheral vision needs to see their posture while you do it, and your hearing needs to sense all the people in the room, and your skin needs to sense that you're all in the same environment so that your cortex can separate environmental reaction from communication. Not just language, but all the stuff that we pick up on that isn't going to come across no matter how fast your bandwidth, how tight your camera, how binaural your audio because you're looking three inches below the camera that's filming your face and so's the person you're talking to and that's not going to change any time soon - apple patents be damned - because it'll still be an incremental change and frankly, we're so far down the ladder of "presence" that you should take your Skype and be fucking happy with it.

There's protocol for telepresence. We all adapted to it quickly, and we're all comfortable with it. Jaron Lanier pointed that out in early VR research - you can arbitrarily map a person to an imaginary VR squid and they'll figure out how to squirt ink with their pinky pretty quickly. It's just schema. It's not in-person communication and it never will be. It's incrementally, marginally, slightly better than a conference call.

You are not going to fix presence by putting people in goofygoggles and banana avatars. You're not. The fact that Zuckerberg thinks you can is proof positive that he's Borg. The stuff you trigger off of is entirely uncaptured by telecommunications.

Take it from the guy who used to design the stuff. 5% better than Skype costs you five times as much as skype and 10% better than Skype is unachievable.