Some purists are declaring that the dramatic evolution of human to human communication is deleterious to our species all the while technocrats speed forward with new tools that continue to depersonify human to human communication. Human to human communication was originally limited to shouting distance or long distance hand gestures. We progressed and found new ways to relay messages longer distances; smoke signals, carrier pigeons, and messengers like Pheidippides. Today distance is no longer a variable when we wish to communicate a message. We are in the era where we focus on the clarity of our messages.
We are in the era of video communication.
A lot of communication was transmitted between the days of running couriers and the vast library of video communication tools we use today. Progress in the transmittal of messages hinged on two issues; distribution and the perishability of a message. Distribution was forever changed with the creation of the printing press and further democratized through the xerox machine and the internet. Perishability was solved through the invention of the telephone that not only allowed us eliminate lag time between messages but allowed for two way dialogue.
The sheer volume of actionable messages we receive on a daily basis is something to cherish, but one issue still plagues our messages- ambiguity. Maybe the purists do have a point; face to face communication remains the most potent method of transmitting a message. It’s easy to misinterpret an email, have a critical call dropped, or have your text message blown off. These examples of suboptimal communication are avoided when we engage face to face. Today’s Video Communication tools are not just filling the gaps from the efficiencies lost when we don’t communicate face to face but actually providing scenarios where the clarity of a message is enhanced.
The hallmark of a powerful technology is not only it’s ability better serve existing markets but to foster new markets. Is video communication the ultimate productive hack or just a supplemental tool?
The phone reduced the amount of face to face meetings we needed. Email reduced the amount of phone calls we needed. Is video communication transformative enough to reduce our total time spent communicating via face to face meetings, phone calls, and email?
Video Communication is here to transform three key aspects of our lives- Work, Play, and Chores.
At its core video conferencing is a way to simulate face to face dialogue but without all the backend hassles that face to face dialogue requires. Video conferencing is the eco friendly solution that allows individuals to forgo a commute and enables the newfound work-life balance of remote work. Tools like Zoom and GoToMeeting are rapidly becoming staples of any conference room as they do a good enough job of simulating face to face dialogue.
The sensation of connectedness often isn’t the primary objective of organizations deploying video communication tools, they are attempting to enhance engagement. Screen sharing with apps like Microsoft Teams allows for the optimal opportunity for engagement. Seating at a meeting is just like a sporting event; you have the courtside seats (next to the projector screen) and you have the nosebleed seats (that extra chair at the end of the room). How many impactful comments have gone unsaid just because meeting members had physical limitations impeding their view/ willingness to engage. Screen sharing eliminates these barriers.
Video communication is fun. So fun that we sometimes don’t care who we’re even talking to, as seen with ChatRoulette. We value video communication as a medium of exchange enough to use it for blind dating. Video communication is not only fun but intimate, it’s why you see people walking down the street FaceTiming their loved ones.
The definition of two way dialogue has evolved due to video communication, I can now respond to your message hours or days later without it being weird. Snapchat is a dramatically new way to communicate with your immediate circle of friends and peers. Your message has changed too. Your goal may just be to have your friends absorb the essence of the video message rather than engage with it. I can receive a Snapchat video message of the local basketball court and immediately decode the message; ‘Courts are full, good time to come join’. Just a few second video clip with no supplemental text sent to a number of people is a way to engage with only those intrigued by your message.
Video communication between peers not only doesn’t require instantaneous two way dialogue, it doesn’t even require your physical self as seen by the emergence of VR hangouts.
Chores can be defined as tasks that often take longer than they should, are generally unenjoyable, but require your attention. Scheduling appointments and traveling to an office to complete a chore is unpleasurable to everyone but dramatically more annoying to those who work full time and often have to expend their paid time off just to make an appointment. This is where video communication is enabling new methods of communication to make our lives easier.
Turbotax is offering live chats with accountants to help you feel confident you did your taxes correctly. Teladoc is enabling live chat with doctors that will both lead to more preventative care and ease bottlenecks at medical offices. Mental health too, you can now access counseling via video chat. We are entering a paradigm were our customer service needs will either be processed through chatbots or through video communication.
The video communication era is just beginning. While every new technology seemingly gets deemed a double edged sword its difficult to envision the downsides to this revolution. We are now transmitting messages with less ambiguity and with deeper engagement. We can instantly transmit messages worldwide to friends, colleagues, and strangers alike. Video communication is the productivity enhancing tool organizations of all kind have been yearning for. Video communication is the happy medium between a technocrat’s utopia and a traditionalists objective.