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Ging Visual Using Images Enhance Productivity Decision Making and Profits - Gerard A.

Gerard A. Ging Visual Using Images Enhance Productivity Decision Making and Profits - Wiley publishing , 2005. - 257 p.
ISBN 0-471-71025-3
Download (direct link): visualusingimagestoenha2005.pdf
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174 GOING VISUAL
a word which has become almost a buzzword for us. The idea here is to go beyond mere connections—telephone calls, e-mails, that kind of thing—and engage the periphery of human sensations: background communication and background cues. When people come in and see this project, they think videoconferencing; they think this is an always-on videoconference. But that’s the wrong starting point to understand what I’m trying to accomplish. There is in fact a conferencing mode. We can click a couple of buttons here and go into a videoconference with the people in the garden in Dublin, but the main purpose of this is to foster a sense of community, to give you the impression that there really is a window broken through this wall that is leading into another room, when in fact the room is actually 3,000 miles away. This makes people feel they are contributing to a larger whole by working along with a lot of other people who are not necessarily physically near.
“It’s difficult to get across in a 30-minute demo really how much this installation has become a part of the fabric of our existence. This has been up and running for almost a year, and it’s become so much a part of the background of our environment that we don’t even think about it anymore. We walk by and we see the images on the screen, and we might notice someone on the other end that we know, or we just see people working in the background, or we see an empty room, or we see a large group of visitors going through, or someone sitting eating lunch, so we press the button and have a chance encounter with them. It’s that ambient awareness that this system is trying to get at.”
At that moment, we saw a couple of people enter the common area in Cambridge, and Agamanolis casually pressed the microphone button and said hello. It just so happened that the World Cup soccer matches were going on at the time, and the Cambridge crew had come in early to watch a game over the lab’s high-speed Internet connection. The conversation was all about the American team’s chances in the next round. We were astounded to see how natural
BEING THERE BY GOING VISUAL 175
the interaction was, as though everyone was in the same room, and we were reminded of an observation by Howard Rheingold, author of Smart Mobs:
Whenever a new communication technology lowers the threshold for groups to act collectively, new kinds of institutions emerge. We are seeing the combination of network communications and social networks.
We see systems such as this one extending a Going Visual strategy into the Community of Interest in a rather profound way, by lowering the barriers of time and distance.
Videoconferencing for Everyone
While the requirements of O'Leary's organization are at the high end of the quality scale, the rapid democratization of technology involved in Going Visual, in terms of both price and ease of use, is changing who can play the game. The price/performance value of webcams now puts them within virtually anyone's reach. Technical standards have also been adopted that make basic videoconferencing easy to do on any modern PC, and O'Leary tells us that the full capabilities he's been describing are just around the corner for everyone. "A new set of protocols has just been adopted, called SIP, Session Initiation Protocol, which will greatly simplify things," he said. "The old protocols require a lot of processing power, and programming them is not for the faint of heart. So you've needed top-notch programmers
(Continued)
176 GOING VISUAL
(Continued)
to build videoconferencing systems, and that means they've been built for corporate users, who can afford it. This new protocol will change videoconferencing from being a corporate phenomenon to being an everyman's tool. It lets a lot more people get into the business of videoconferencing, and it allows you to build applications much more cheaply. It allows you to buy fairly inexpensive webcams and use them to collaborate on your personal PC. It's going to allow videoconferencing to really take the place of picking up the phone."
To illustrate how far the democratization of videoconferencing has already come, we cite a scene we happened upon while researching this book. While sitting in a coffee shop, checking e-mail on a laptop through a wireless network, we noticed a young mom guide her stroller to a nearby table. She sat down, unpacked her laptop, clipped a small webcam to the top of its screen,
Coffee shop family videoconference
BEING THERE BY GOING VISUAL 177
and plugged in a tiny pair of speakers. She then pulled out a makeup kit, applied lipstick and powder, and slipped on a pair of dangly earrings. After a final check in the mirror, she picked up her cell phone and called her husband to let him know she was ready to videoconference. Moments later, she pulled the baby up in her lap, and the three of them had a videoconference right there in the coffee shop. There was the baby waving to Dad, and Dad seeing and talking to the baby. He was in Colorado; she was in Los Angeles. Videoconferencing and a cup of coffee—this is an example of Going Visual right from the cradle.
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