Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Not This Time Either 

The idea of videoconferencing has been around for nearly 50 years. Despite promises, it has never replaced business travel -- being there face to face with other people. Once again, video conferencing is promising to replace travel with its new High Definition "telepresence." Maybe this time it will. I'm skeptical. There is more to business travel than meetings. Much of what is important doesn't take place in a formal meeting. It takes place in hallways outside of the meeting. Also, meetings don't provide a sense of place and environment that give one clues to the context from which others are speaking.

So, there is an illusion with "telepresence" that one is in the room with others. That illusion fulfills only partly the need all parties have to get a sense of the other. "Telepresence" will substitute for some meetings but not all of them. Business travel will continue.


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