a thoughtful web.
Share good ideas and conversation.   Login or Take a Tour!
comment by kleinbl00
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.





am_Unition  ·  317 days ago  ·  link  ·  

That was great. Thanks, I didn't know just how deep in your wheelhouse I ventured there with the prison bid.

    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.

Ugh, I think you're right. Man, that's such a bummer. I've just been in flat out denial that VR will almost certainly never replace real life. You're absolutely correct that the smallest nuances are everything. The chronology is critical; <100 ms resolution of non-verbal cues, those moments can shape a conversation, a relationship.

OK, so a related question is whether or not this experience causes us to seriously re-examine whether or not the amount of global commerce and travel that we've worked up to is sustainable. Nah, I'm sorry, I was /s'ing, we're not going to ask that question, we know the answer.

Other questions that some of us coughDJsomeonecough might actually be asking include real gems, like "which Dem most recently played a doctor for halloween and posted pics?", "isn't it likely that Hunter Biden's work in China was to make coronavirus?", "why are my scientists refusing to confirm how well Mike's prayers are working?", "maybe Stephen could find a way to get the germs to the border and sanctuary cities?", "shouldn't we be able to only report deaths and stuff after the election is over? isn't this unfair to me?", and, repeatedly, "as long as my base isn't infected, won't things be OK for me?".

Edit: I've just imagined a likely scenario in which, for many reasons (passing money in the collections plate, hand shaking, hugs, and no modification of traditional behaviors, but mostly 'cuz elderly), rural religious communities are going to have some of the worst impacts. Then, I imagined all of the eventual "rapture" disinformation on social media, as perhaps many communities refuse to let this disrupt their regular attendance. "Maybe this is the lord's disease, people are saying." ok sorry, sorry, done for with trumpGen. For a bit.

_refugee_  ·  317 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I agree that there is absolutely nothing like being in person. klein's point about the increased expense of developing more software to simulate in-person is a good one. I work with people in person as much as possible.

There's another element of being in person that isn't touched on, so far in this thread. It's all of those easy, quick, innate interactions that just don't happen when you're virtual, and I don't care how many chats or Slack channels or whatever you built to try to replace them. When I'm in person at the office and I know Jack is an expert on x or y and Jack's in the office, it's so very easy to walk over to his desk and have a quick conversation with Jack. It's not easy to do that virtually. I can look over to his desk and see if he's there or not. If he's there, I can see if he looks busy or not. When we have the conversation, unlike a discussion over chat, our discussion isn't reduced to a series of questions where Jack is simply trying to answer whatever I put before him.

I've worked full time from home and I've worked full time at the office. I do think a job where you can have a healthy mix of both is good -- people need flexibility in their lives for various reasons -- but I also think that, if I can, I want to be in the office 4 out of 5 days a week or so. I want to be managed by someone who I interact with in person at least once a month if possible. When I become a manager, I want to manage a team in person. I've seen work relationships that never clicked and it was in large part due to failures encouraged by two people not being in the same location.

You can make it work if you're not in person, but it's so much more difficult to do so.

kleinbl00  ·  317 days ago  ·  link  ·  

John Oliver pointed out that "The Leftovers" is an HBO series about 2% of the population disappearing.

Smithsonian Magazine pointed out that literature treated the 1918 pandemic like a repressed memory.

Trump shook hands with the chairman of AIPAC, and the chairman shook hands with someone with Coronavirus.

Ruth Bader Ginsberg is 86.

You know who's fucked the hardest in this? Rural senior citizens with inadequate access to emergency services.

Look to your friend on your left. Look to your friend on your right. Statistically, one of you three is going to lose a grandparent to this.