Communicating Face-to-Face… Virtually!

In 1998, I started playing around with webcams.  Not for any smutty purpose, but to record the renovation and additions on the CCSU Student Center.  It was a cool project… install an ethernet drop in the fire escape stairwell of the library, get power out there for the cam, and then find a way to hang the camera where the interior glass would not reflect back the image of the camera.  Of course I also had to find a way to keep the beast cool, capture and store an image every few hours, and provide a good view of the project for those visiting the cam in the middle of the night from India, China, Turkey etc.  At the time, people thought I was crazy, until student unions all over the country started doing the same thing by calling me and finding out how to do it! Oh! The face-to-face point is… I had a parent call me from Canada when the camera was just a view of the circle on campus and tell me the web cam was down. She and her daughter “met” on the webcam each day from the top stair near the “drum”, just to wave and indicate all was well, and she missed that live face-to-face meeting.

By 2003, I had enough time once again to start playing with an office webcam.  Cool, cheap cams, with lousy pictures and sound capabilities abound, but I chose a new, and relatively expensive cam (Logitech Orbit) to put on my desk!  My dad, 84 at the time, missed seeing me at the construction site webcam, and so I surprised him with a link to my office so he could “view” me each day at work.  That camera still runs to this day, and folks have recorded “snapshots” from the browser based website and I have a nice album of office moves, staff visits, cleaning staff, and even and unscheduled “party” in my office while I was away.  He enjoyed that face-to-face live contact each day until he died of brain cancer a few years ago.  The cam is still running though!  Students live to see the Director staring blankly at a computer screen or watch me talk on the phone.

With the advent of Skype, (otismt2) I “view and talk” with colleagues from as close as campus, to as far away as California, Australia, Italy and Germany.  No charge to the state.* I’m looking forward to using the newly installed webex software (video capable) which we used to broadcast a union meeting this summer, and do a webinar or facilitate a workshop via screen sharing in the next year.

This technology stuff is pretty cool.  Yup.  Why travel when you can meet face-to face from your desk?!?

* Except for the use of the internet connection of course…

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