The Council’s “Tech…. in the Time of Corona” Series – Part 1

April 6th, 2020

Peter ("the Guru") Hernandez

General Manager - Technology

Australian Physiotherapy Council

A Very Unscientific Study into How Tech is Supporting Connection in Corona-verse

Consider this…

Just a short time ago “zoom” was the sound that your toddler made when they rammed a toy car past your wearied brow.  “MS Teams” was the umbrella name attributed to my kids’ soccer club – the Mighty Soccerinos; and “Houseparty” was a thing organised in stealth by the young, and to be avoided at all costs by the middle aged.

Oh how things have changed…in three, never ending, weeks.

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Pete (or Guru for short) and I am a Tech-head by day and a flaming… introvert …well, always. Introversion is a personality trait that’s loosely called a dominant gene – not really, but just cut me a bit of slack for illustrative purposes.   How do I know this?  Because a preference for inwardness is something I share with all three of my progeny.

My magical wife however, is the polar opposite; a proud extrovert who needs human interface perhaps even more than I need quietude.  So in Corona-verse, whilst my wife sees the beauty in the relative stillness that has descended on our home, she remains fundamentally as high-touch as ever – albeit remotely.  No shock there.  But it’s the following finding that has us all aghast.   You see, the cluster of familial introverts in my household have had enough of social isolation and we’re breaking our necks for connectivity.  We want to talk.  We long to connect.  We have to be seen.  We must be heard.

Sound the horns stat.  It’s official, the world has completely turned upside down.

So let’s have a look at the Tech that’s been widely adopted during COVID-19 to keep the world turning, commerce continuing and the introverts… I mean, everybody… connecting.

Less than a decade ago, Zoom was a contender in the videoconferencing industry. It was competing against the big names of VC hardware makers like Polycom and Cisco.   It’s main USP was: software only, software anywhere.

During Corona-verse, it’s become the conferencing tool of choice for most people, including British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, who uses it to work with his Cabinet while he is in quarantine with COVID-19. We too adopted it at the Council for its superior quality of image and its simplicity of use. It’s also cheaper than the tool we used previously, and you can call anyone with it, even people who don’t have a license.

The main drawback about Zoom is that you need to organise the meeting in advance, advise the people who will be participating and inform them of the link to join.

And then there’s MS Teams.  Unlike Zoom, MS Teams require that all the parties in collaboration have a license to participate.  This software is wonderful as a functional all-rounder that allows our Village to discuss things as a group or have separate conversations on a need basis, as well as having instant messaging, phone and video calling capabilities.

The Houseparty app is fast becoming the app of choice for those who want to have virtual face to face time – meaning, E.V.E.R.Y.B.O.D.Y.  It’s ideal for families that are geographically separated, or for friends who want to hang out.  Users of the app simply start video conversations and friends can join organically without needing a link.  Think of it as a video conferencing service on steroids.

Houseparty is free and still in beta, meaning that it hasn’t reached full maturity, according to its developers. Having said that, Google’s Gmail service was in beta for almost decade, and we all know how bad that did for Google. [INSERT: snicker and not Snickers…because we all really must stop eating the entire contents of our pantry in any given afternoon!!!]

And talking about consuming… the world is consuming social media at a higher rate than ever. In fact, social media networks will soon re-badge themselves as “media networks” to reflect this new world order. These companies are channeling more information and news than traditional media channels – not to mention hysterical memes – by a landslide.  #coronakillscomcast

So what’s the take home from this brave new world of social distancing and isolation?

We need connection to survive.  Businesses need it.  Humans need it.  Pets need it.  We all need it.  Even the four introverts at my place – in our four separate rooms, conscientiously keeping away from each other, yet concomitantly connecting with the world – desperately need it!!!  So whilst we are entitled to grieve the loss of normalcy and navel gaze (cos that’s all we kinda can do right about now), we must also embrace how fortunate we are to have tools that bridge the gap and bring everyone closer… while we remain of course, 1.5 metres apart.

#techequalsbridge;     #lifedisrupted;    #covid19;    #letssticktogetherremotely; #techtotherescue



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