Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Long Distance Relationships

I bet you don't remember TeleSuites. I can't find any very recent google results for them, but this article has a picture.

We had one of these installed at a company where I used to work. Conceptually it was really cool. You appeared to be sitting across a regular conference table from the other videoconferencing participants. (The ones who weren't actually there, I mean. Wouldn't make a lot of sense for them to tout how you'd appear to be in the same room with people who actually were in the same room, now, would it?)

But it was really expensive, the technology wasn't well-supported, and it often just didn't work; and you couldn't get the cool effect unless the people on the other end had the same equipment. A few fancy conference hotels around the country had suites installed, but not so many that participants wouldn't still end up having to travel to get to them. For any meeting larger than 10 or 15 people, you needed a larger suite with attendees in stadium seats, and you'd lose most of the effect of being in the same room. And of course if you had more than two sites participating, you had split screens; plus you had that awkward time delay and all the normal stuff that makes videoconferencing suck.

It's a pity, because it occurred to me today that we really need something like that for break now. Fortunately we have a fairly limited number of sites to conference in, because Billy and Sara are both in Colorado (which is just a big square, so I'm sure there's no appreciable travel time involved); Tony, Andrew, and Bryan are at Camp H; Thomas and Greg and Robbie (and me, if I get that job I applied for yesterday!) will be able to conference in from South Dallas; and that of course just leaves those of us at Riverside. Justin's the odd man out in College Station, so he only gets to participate by speakerphone.

That way each of us will just need a four-sided suite with an artificial metal pavilion roof and half an artificial picnic table up against each wall. There should be some artificial cigarette butts strewn about on the artificial concrete floor, for a touch of realism. And if we really wanted to go all out we could also have some CGI break spot intruders sitting at the tables when we turn on the equipment. They'd be programmed to look startled, cut their break short and slink guiltily away when we came swaggering in like we owned the place, which of course we would.

I suppose this seems a bit fanciful coming from someone who works for such a financially strapped organization she might end up having to barter her charms for office supplies. But hey. If nobody ever dreamed big, we'd never have companies like TeleSuite!

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At October 17, 2007 9:04 PM, Blogger dreadpir8roberts said...

College Station? Speakerphone? Try a tin-can and some string. :D Silly Aggies.


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