When Technology Is Heartwarming

by Volker Weber

David Pogue of the New York Times talks about his iSight moment:

And then, suddenly, there it was: My wife Jennifer's live image and her voice, transmitted in real time 3,500 miles across the globe -- instantly, crystal clear, and (by the way) free. I paraded around the coffee shop with my laptop and the iSight, showing her the local ambiance. (Jennifer, grinning: "Hey, buy me one of those chocolate croissants!") Maybe I was just overtired and sentimental, but it was an almost overwhelming experience.

She rounded up the kids. They didn't seem to grasp the full scope of the technological miracle before them, which I found tremendously reassuring; I could see for myself that none of the traveling dad's worst nightmares had come true. We caught up for awhile; I told a silly bedtime story to the kids; we showed each other how it was dark out in England, but still bright at home. Finally, after about 20 minutes, we "hung up."

There's a lot of junk in technology, a lot of hassle and frustration, a lot of disappointment. But this moment was like a TV commercial. It was an emotional, powerful, simple, perfect example of how technology can change a moment, solve a problem, and despite the gulf of time and distance, bring you face to face with the people you love.

Somewhat related, but of course less emotional: :-)

I talked to Simon Phipps this week for my story about Sun dropping the Eclipse bid, using an iSight on both ends. It does make a huge difference in trust when you can see someone you are talking to. Luckily both of us use a Mac.


I've recently spent nearly 2 weeks in the States, away from my loved ones - partner and 2 kids. In the years we have been together, we have always relied upon the fatter bandwidth provided by email to communicate, rather than the crackly hurried hotel 'phone call. As personal video-conferencing technology has emerged, we have hungrily exploited it as an even better way of shrinking the distance between us.

Using this technology makes you pointedly aware of the way in which we communicate as human beings, the wry smile in reaction to a comment or even the head thrown back in laughter, all this adds so much to the written or spoken word.

It too, is an emotional experience - sadly, being PC based, it's CU-seeme technology rather than the brushed aluminium Mac experience - my ancient thinkpad 600 barely manages to cope with bidirectional audio and video (provided by very plasticky intel webcams), but my recent trip will always be remembered as the time I finally proposed to my partner - after 10 years and 2 kids - via this flickery, blocky, crackly connection!


John, 2003-12-06

Not the *actual* moment, but one of the many (this via a WiFi connection at the greatly reduced Comdex Fall experience this year) prior to the event.

[slightly edited by vowe]

John, 2003-12-06

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