Today we had a group brainstorming session at our lab. Everyone was in the same room, and everyone was wearing a mask. It’s the first such session we have had here since the pandemic started.

For the last year and a half all of our group brainstorms have been over Zoom. You could see and hear each other, but everyone was reduced to a talking head.

Today’s session was amazingly productive. Really interesting new ideas were generated. I had forgotten how much better brainstorming work when everyone is in the same room.

There were so many subtle cues that people can use to understand what each other means, and to bounce ideas off each other. And people could jump up to scribble on the whiteboard, or point to a place in a video.

It is possible that some future form of virtual reality will allow us to do these things with the same ease and effortlessness. But it is clear that we are still a long way off.

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