The Zoom Revolution

The Zoom revolution. Screenshot of a Zoom web meeting

My brother and some of my cousins organised a family Zoom call this weekend. We thought it might be good for my dad who has dementia and some physical ailments. Because of current social distancing rules he hasn’t seen anyone but his carers and my brother and mother for some time. The Zoom revolution at least enables us to see each other.

This was dad’s first experience of Zoom or any internet platform beyond email. He didn’t contribute much but I think he appreciated it. One of my cousins – an emeritus professor of medicine – commented that she can’t really imagine anything going back to “normal” if we ever beat this pandemic. Is Zoom and apps like it our new reality? Is this the Zoom revolution?

Since March 2020 video conferencing apps have become a necessity to most people. They’ve enabled people to work at home, businesses to stay open and families to keep in touch. They offer as close to face to face communication as the web can offer. Webinars have long been a staple of internet marketing but now everyone’s doing it.

As I write this at the end of October 2020 more lockdowns have been announced and its likely yet more will follow. The pandemic was the catalyst for a massive increase in the use of web conferencing this year. So much so that it has become a part of the new normal life.

Benefits Of The Zoom Revolution

Obviously when we are all sat at home communicating with each other through computer screens we aren’t spreading viruses. But we are also not commuting or travelling much by air, road, rail or sea. That’s a big plus in terms of our other world problem – global warming. 

The Zoom revolution is also a big bonus for many businesses who’s employees can work from home.  After 8 months of testing they’re surely going to be noticing the potential savings to be made by not needing dedicated office space. 

And web conferencing these days is a far cry from the fairly awful experience it used to be. I worked in the AV industry in the 90’s when virtual meetings were just starting to become popular.

They required dedicated ISDN lines in every location. A rack of equipment set up and operated by a technician was needed at every site involved. That’s after numerous site visits to ensure that the right connections were in place or could be added. Even with all those boxes ticked it was hit and miss. It was in short, a nightmare. 

How Things Have Improved

Fast forward to around 2010 when online web conferencing via ordinary broadband appeared. Google introduced Hangouts and companies like Go to Webinar emerged. These offered both free and paid options depending on your meeting group numbers and length of meetings. Both were a lot better than the above but were still a bit clunky to use and at times unreliable. 

Now though video calls are available on almost every popular platform. Messenger, Whatsapp, Facetime and Skype all offer at least one to one video calls. There has been a lot of investemet in broadband infrastructure in recent years too.

With most of us now on high speed networks, video meetings are a lot smoother. They do still suffer from delay however especially when attendees are scattered across the globe. That’s a real 1st world problem though isn’t it? You are talking face to face with someone on the other side of the world FFS! Not very long ago that existed only in the realm of science fiction.

First World Problems

My brother who has a degree in somethng computery or other made a good point about the little problems we still experience with Zoom etc. He thinks a whole new industry will be born out of them. Aside from technical developments to enhance the user experience he mentioned background screens. If we are all now going to be spending time looking at each other on computer screens, changing our backgrounds would be nice. 

Of course aside from new business opportunities all this internet traffic will inevitably also attract the bad guys. I read recently that Zoom was created by developers who worked on Go to Webinar. They reckon that it is so fast, simple to use and therefore popular because most of the security firewalls have been removed. Food for thought.

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