I work for a technology company — in emerging technologies, no less — but keep finding myself on the end of the technology adoption curves. It was 2000 before I got my first cell phone, and I’m still using a non-touch-screen Blackberry. Even my two-year old son looks at me with pity when he watches me use my phone.
Part of the reluctance stems from the need to learn (yet another!) interface. It takes me back to the first time I used a WYSIWYG word processor and found myself wishing I could go back to WordPerfect 4.2: I’d committed the formatting tags to muscle memory already.
This “learning investment” in older technologies makes it harder to adopt newer technologies, even when they’re clearly superior.
But video is totally different. Unlike other technological “innovations” in the past, it’s actually becoming easier to use.
Consuming video is easy: just click on play. (Okay, unless it’s a Flash video on an iPhone.)
Interacting with video is easy: just use a phone interface or a touch screen. (No more remotes!)
Recording video is easy: just hit the big red button on the Flip camera.
Distributing video is easy: just plug the Flip camera into your USB port — no more fiddling with tape and converting formats. Or take a video with your phone and upload it to Facebook.
In fact, it’s strange to NOT see someone I’m talking to. I telecommute from home, and 90% of the calls I make are over video. I do one-on-ones with my team members over video. I meet with groups, sitting in telepresence rooms, over video. I brainstorm with people spread over five different locations, all over video.
And all over a home broadband connection. Using a touchscreen interface that even I find intuitive.
I can see the sceptical eyebrow lift, the thoughtful finger tapping, the distracted texting, the enthusiastic hand-waving. Silent pauses don’t make me nervous anymore. Everyone gets away with less multi-tasking, which means meetings get shorter and more productive. What a concept!
Most importantly, video makes me feel as relevant as being in San Jose. Sure, I don’t get the water cooler talk (who has time for water cooler talk, anyway?) but I get to wear pajama bottoms.