Future Zoom

In the early days of movies, a “movie” was a silent movie. Over the course of several decades, elaborate protocols were developed around silent movies.

Actors used pantomime to communicate meaning. Dialog was mainly in the form of intertitle cards.

Audiences came to accept these limitations, and pretty much to take them for granted. Cinema was a visual medium without sound, and that was that.

All of that changed in the late 1920s. As soon as talkies came upon the scene, silent film started to die a rapid death. In a few short years, all films were talkies.

I wonder whether something similar will happen with the evolution of tools like Zoom, Google Meet, etc. They all have serious limitations that we simply take for granted — such as the inability to maintain proper eye contact with different people in a meeting.

Yet as soon as those limitations go away, we may look back on these early versions of the medium the way we now look back on silent movies. There may be a fond appreciation for the early pioneers who helped pave the way, but I suspect that very few people will want to turn back the clock to the way things are now.

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