Coffee with Fred

When you talk on the phone with somebody, you definitely know that they are somewhere else. The entire point of a phone call is to bridge that gap of distance between you and someone who is elsewhere on the planet.

Zoom calls are like phone calls in that respect. When you talk to someone over Zoom, you never feel as though you are both in the same place.

The idea of “being in the same place” is built into how we use language. If I say “I talked with Fred today,” you don’t know whether Fred and I met in person or just talked on the phone.

But if I say “I had coffee with Fred today,” you know that Fred and I were together in the same place. The difference is fundamental.

So here’s a question: Will socially shared immersive technologies ever advance to the point where I can say “I had coffee with Fred today,” and it will seem perfectly normal to everyone — even if Fred and I are in two different places?

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