Online Meetings Useful, or Challenging?

Over at his blog, Cole Camplese posted on the potential of online meetings as a replacement for many of the day-to-day meetings we all at times have had to attend.
I am fortunate that, with the big career change, I am no longer attending as many meetings as I had in the past, and the ones I do attend are all in one building. That said, I have met the technology and found it wanting.

I would like to think I am rather “tech saavy.” I do podcasts. I run two WordPress blogs and a content management site (go visit Supply Chain Innovations Today!) but I have to say, online meetings are frustrating simply and completely because of the techonlogy.

It seems that I end up spending more time configuring, reconfiguring, and tweaking, than I do having the meeting. I just went through 20 minutes of set up and troubleshooting so that eLluminate would work–and now I wonder if any time I change any of my configuration I will have to go through it again. And changing my configuration can mean something as simple as “rebooting the machine” or opening another audio using program.

But online meetings save time, allowing us to be more “productive” right? Perhaps, but perhaps not!

I know how to drive. For regular (face to face) meetings I show up with a pad of paper, and am ready to go. I am able to use my car time to prepare my thoughts, and/or listen to podcasts, and as one commenter wrote at Cole’s blog, if I take public transportation I can catch up on reading, be it RSS feeds, blogs, or books. (Gotta love the Sony eReader!) So instead of getting frustrated with technology, I am being productive.

I long for the day when I can tell my computer “I want a meeting with Cole and Dean Brady (go visit his blog) and I want to share a powerpoint, while working on a word document” and it will turn on all the right software, connect to the right addresses, and let me focus on participating and taking notes (using my pad of paper, of course!) Ideally, one of us should be able to just say “make into podcast” and it will take the whole meeting (which it dutifully, already recorded) and send it to an appropriate RSS feed! (Dave Winer, are you listening??)

Let’s go back to the car for a moment. While I can’t (yet) tell it where I want to go, and have it take me there, I don’t have to tweak it to get it moving. I get in, I buckle my seatbelt (you all do that, right?) start the car, and drive. I may talk to the GPS (see–cool!) and let it talk back (again, analog, human interaction.) I don’t have to tweak the spark plugs, adjust the carburetor, align the tires. For the most part, if I have done routine maintenance, it is ready to go!

Bottom Line: Tech should make things easier–and the tech stuff should be opaque (decidedly not transparent] since I don’t want to even have to KNOW what is going on with the tech.


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