Who are you talking to?

I was on a Zoom meeting yesterday. I had another Zoom meeting scheduled right after that one.

One of the people on the first meeting also sometimes joins in the second one. So at the end of the Zoom meeting I said to him “Are you going to join our other meeting?”

He looked into the camera and said “I have another meeting, will reconnect in an hour.” I was disappointed, because I had hoped he would be joining that second meeting.

But it turned out that he was talking to the other participants. He was telling them that he needed to take the next hour to join the meeting I was talking about.

This seems to be an inherent problem with video chat. Everyone is looking at the camera, so you are never sure who anyone is talking to.

I suppose our use of language might evolve to deal with this. For example, we might get into the habit of explicitly saying the name of whomever we are addressing.

But I’m not convinced that’s the right way to go, since it would detract from the richness of verbal communication. It would be much better if we could evolve our tools to better support multi-person conversations.

Something to work on!

One thought on “Who are you talking to?”

  1. It’s similar to the problem of making eye contact with the image, instead of looking at the camera. I’ve discovered it takes a real conscious effort to maintain focus on that black dot at the top of the screen.

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