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A simple answer to why I've done more videoconferencing in the past 3 weeks than I have in the past 3 *years*...

200711051704In the past three weeks I have done more videoconferencing than I have in the past three years...including my year or so as the product manager for Mitel's video collaboration products.


There's a simple answer, really. And it speaks to the heart of why I think it has taken so long for videoconferencing to take off... I mean, we've have been talking about videophones for what? 40 years or so?

200711060757The answer is... duh!... I have a camera always available!

It is always there, sitting at the top of my MacBook Pro screen, just waiting to be used. Whenever I am in a Skype call, or using Sightspeed or iChat... or any other communication program that supports video... moving into video is as simple as pressing a button in the GUI and... ta da... we're in a video conversation.

Contrast that to the situation a few years back where moving into video involved making sure your camera was connected first. In fact, some of the various programs required a restart after you connected a camera, which meant that you couldn't just escalate into video while you were in the midst of a call. Back when I was the product manager for Mitel's collaboration software, it was often a challenge to find people to test the software with because it required people to have a camera connected... and in the days of laptops and people moving around that required them to carry their camera with them. Once I started working remotely in 2005, there were many times when I wanted to have a video call to see the person or room on the other end. I'd often ask "Can we go to video?" and the answer was almost inevitably "Darn! I left my camera back in the office."

Today the story would be different. We're moving rapidly to an era of ubiquitous cameras embedded in laptops. I don't know if Apple started the trend, but with the MacBook's they certainly propelled the trend along the way. I've seen most other vendors follow suit. A quick tour of the laptop aisle in Best Buy recently showed that most all vendors at this point are including embedded webcams in many if not most of their laptops.

So maybe, just maybe, with ubiquitous cameras we'll finally reach the point where video can truly be just another modality of communication that we can easily move to and from during a call. It's certainly been a great addition to my communication over the past few weeks... and I see myself continuing to use more and more.

How about you? Do you have an embedded webcam? If you do, do you find yourself using video more now that you can do so very easily?

P.S. The captured screenshot at the top of the article is a call yesterday with Dameon Welch-Abernathy, a.k.a. Phone Boy.

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