I Went Flat Last Night

Video ConferencingIt’s not nearly as good as being there — Especially if I could have been in Sidney Sydney, Australia.  But, lets face it.  It’s a flat world.  To export my services, I do not, necessarily, have to export myself. 

So, after only two and a half hours of sleep last night, the alarm on my phone strummed a single guitar chord,

Waking me up,
To get dressed, and
Walk down to my office,
To deliver a presentation for a conference,
Clear Around the world,
Where it was 14:15. 

We were using conferencing software from Adope called Connect Professional — which provided for video and audio from me, video from their side (which they were not using), and the ability to project PowerPoint slides and even my computer desktop.

I’m actually taking to this virtual teaching much better and much more easily than I had anticipated, as I’ve presented from my office several times.  I find that using body language in front of an iSight camera is different from a stage, but it can be just as effective.  The experience is far better, and, frankly, a whole lot more honest than the teleconferencing we use to do from the State Departments of Education back in 1991, when I was trying to be Peter Jennings.  No way but failure there.

The technology, in my opinion and from my experience, is simply not there yet.  We’d worked everything out, before I went to bed.  I was logged in, my audio and video were going through just fine — if a little choppy.  The slides were loaded and I had control over them.  I was able to confidently slip off into a few hours of restful sleep.

When I re-entered my office, I found that the slides were not working.  Alex Hayes, the Project Officer, worked on things, but they didn’t get better.  With only minutes to go, I got bumped from the virtual room entirely, and couldn’t get back in.  I was reminded of a nightmare I’d once had, where I stepped out of a presentation hall for a drink of water, just before the address was to begin, and on returning, I found that the doors were closed and locked. 

Signs I was going to use with the camera
Signs I was going to use with the camera

I finally raised Alex on Skype, and after trying several things (now eight minutes into the presentation time), we decided to do the session with audio only, over skype, with Alex advancing the slides.  It was a little clunky, and not the first time I’ve had to resort to Skype or iChat. 

What’s put a spur under my skin, is that Alex said that the error messages I was getting indicated that there were bandwidth problems on my end.  I was plugged directly into my Cable Modem, after midnight.  Should have been pretty fast.

I do not know why I wasnot getting the bandwidth I needed.  I do not understand the nuances of this stuff.  But the question that this experience compells in me is — “How is my country going to work in an increasingly flattening world, with a telecommunications industry that seems satisfied with and forgiven for taking our money and then providing substandard service?”

Author: David Warlick

David Warlick has been an educator for the past 40+ years. He continues to do some writing, but is mostly seeking his next intersect between play, passion and purpose, dabbling in photography, drone videography and music production.