TED Conversations

Gabriel Navakas

Business Development, Technology Firm

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How does video conferencing impact human interaction? What are the psychological impacts and factors?

Can video conferencing serve as a replacement for direct communication if it is simple to use? What impacts exist, that should be explored, on how video conferencing can impact human interaction? There are many different areas to explore including - self image of being on camera, privacy, distinction of where conversations take place when remembering the instance(did I speak to Bob in person or video), sense of relationship with others as a result, etc., sense of culture in a organization, etc.

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    May 30 2014: Overall, I think that video conferencing can be a great use of technology, as it can free us up from the traditional structured business meeting. This technology can allow for us to telecommute from home, saving us from the headaches of getting stuck in "rush hour" traffic, and from the monotony of living a great deal of our lives within office cubicles.

    However, regardless of its simplicity, if overly relied upon, video conferencing can become quite impersonal and can offset the growth of workplace dynamics. Granted, video conferencing is a much better alternative to the conference calls that we have in my line of work (the shipping industry), yet it would be optimal to have traditional business meetings on a more regular basis.

    That being said, I would recommend checking out Sherry Turkle's TED talk: http://www.ted.com/talks/sherry_turkle_alone_together. Even though she discusses more than video conferencing, the same principle applies. Essentially, there is no substitution to face-to-face social interaction.
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    Jun 4 2014: it seems to me that video conferencing is useful in some circumstances but it is still more enjoyable to interact with a real live person in the room with you, the question in my mind is why?
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    May 29 2014: Dear Gabriel , As we all remembered the way on which the mobile phones made the SPACE in each of us, but at the same way it connected the network and reduced the distance. human all got addicted towards it , cause this gives the comfortability which we all wants, So in the same way this video interaction will make us closer without distance but i am not sure that i can make the relationship closer . In a simple way ,By the video interaction, the Son / Daughter can see thier mother whenever they want them to see but they refuse themslf to come closer when the mother really miss them . we can say the commitments, necessasity, as just a reason by hiding the truth. Even now peoples like to interact with strangers in online rather they refuse themself to spend the same time with their belongings.video interaction is the advantage in profit based aspects, but disadvantage in true relationship with others.
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    May 29 2014: Do you find that people change for the camera in ways you could not predict? Are people generally getting comfortable in front of the camera because of the smart phone?
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    May 28 2014: I think that like most things, video conferencing has its place. In technical fields, like in video production for example, users are technically advanced, are comfortable with the technology and can implement and use it quickly... it doesn't slow them down, it enhances things... and when we're chatting about work related issues with a team of people we already know, it works well.

    I don't think video conference is a suitable replacement for face to face in many other circumstances though. You can't replace 'the human element' of seeing a doctor or meeting a new client for the first time or pitching an idea to a team. Sense of relationship suffers in this case. At my company we take video auditions for actors auditioning for roles in a different city and casting directors always say that the taped auditions will receive the same level of consideration as the in person auditions... but what we know is that auditioning in person, you are statistically more likely to get the role.
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      May 29 2014: I am interested if in the auditions you have ever run them thru live video. In a case where the technology was working without technical issues, how would your staff reactive to the method versus recorded video submissions. The reason I ask, other than to further understand your perspective, is that we and many others in our industry, run interviews over video conference and not frequently, but we have hired individuals that come with recommendations of our peers have been hired without face to face interaction.

      I do understand that an audition brings on a whole new set of detail that would lead one to be less focused on their submissions versus the "human element" of face to face. I wonder if the live video conference would add value in determining the best selections because the interactional value would be present but not the physical face to face. If you have a large 1080p HD 80" display and a solid HD video connection with ultra high quality audio, would it make the difference in your case, to provide a new connection to all submissions and artists to be more equally valued.
  • May 28 2014: From recent personal experience I believe that it can be a very good replacement once a person has enough experience using it. My point being that an occasional user will likely be more self conscious and not as likely to 'get into' and relax to the point of it feeling natural. Much like our early experiences venturing into public.

    The other part I believe must be addressed for video to work well is the environment. I use desktop video applications but, i have taken a bit of time to work out good camera and monitor placement as well as adjust the lighting and decluttered the back ground so, it all looks and works to feel more natural. I place the video window at eye level with the camera directly above.
    These last couple items while not difficult or, expensive really have enhanced the feeling and made the experience more natural.
    A few of the folks I regularly speak with have done the same thing and also find it has enhanced the experience for them as well.
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      May 28 2014: Once you have achieved your optimum setup, assuming everything works well on both ends, do you feel your conversations or video sessions are as effective as in person? I often find that thru the different modes of possible video communication that focus by either party is not always a reality. Meaning distractions like working on ones computer while they are talking, not looking at the camera because of it. Sometimes it is because they are using a difference device than their PC like a video phone or a tablet device. With the different modes, ie PC based, video phone devices. VC systems, the level of distraction varies. So my question and or comment here is, can you really own someone's attention thru video? Is that one of the inherent issues with the technology? Or is that a face to face issue in todays tech world interaction is disrupted by tech? IE the smart phone...
  • May 27 2014: You have several good questions here that only time will give the final answer to. I have some friends in different countries that I have helped and have been invaluable to me in times of need. Through Skype I can see them and hear them and trade several types of media as we communicate. As R H pointed out we can become very attached but the part that was not mentioned is the "heart" connection. That is a phenomenon not unlike "entanglement" in quantum physic's, or in nature we see it in swarms of birds or schools of fish, a sort of instant telepathy between two or more. The mind makes no distinction between actual events and imagined event that are "believed".
    "Nothing exists outside the mind for it is the mind that makes it so"- Keith W Henline
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    R H 30+

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    May 27 2014: You're question is so general that I believe you mean ALL human interaction and not just the interactions currently provided by video conferencing - i.e., not just 'meetings' and job related information, but Skype-type friends/family and personal relationships with their future impact also. In the movie 'Her', we have replaced nearly all 'significant' inter-personal communication by tech transmission and by professional 'relationship-tecnique' providers, and the very impacts you're describing are explored. I came away feeling video/audio/electronico communication is extremely efficient in transferring necessary information, makes everyone instantly accessible - with potentially no loss of meaning or feeling of the moment, provides evidence for misunderstandings, and ultimately requires us to know ourselves, be personally responsible, and serve to augment our 'face-to-face' interpersonal relationships via our memories of the impact of our 'tech' exchanges. So when we finally are actually in each other's presence, talking face-to-face, we'll remember all of our 'video' communiques as if they were just said.
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      May 27 2014: My understanding of your reply is that you position is that net, there is a nominal difference between person to person face to face interaction versus video conferencing. 'Her' is a great example of the personal possible attachment that can happen for consumer interaction via any of the more popular person to person web conferencing tools, but to me speaks more to a conversation around the distinction between virtual and reality. In business to business or tech to student or even family to family, video conferencing has elements of reality but are virtual live interaction. The question becomes, what does video conferencing not provide that live interaction does? What person impact does it have on each individual independently? I agree that the sense of efficiency is there, so why does video not seem to yet be the norm for business / or education, or long distance family interaction versus lets say, email or voice? Is it solely the cost of the technology or access to the technology that limits the current state of adoption? Or is the interfaces and reliability that limit the more wide spread adoption? Lastly, or is there an element of video conferencing communication that is counter intuitive related to the younger generational Facebook mentality where face to face is less of priority and ones relationship thru social media, text, and email is the more preferred mode of communication?
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        R H 30+

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        May 28 2014: We could look at it two ways, in my opinion. We could see 'electro' communication as liberating and expanding our interactive capabilities, or a poor artificial substitute merely valuable as an info exchange. I would speculate that it's not used more in business or the classroom (although it is expanding rapidly) because of the 'least common denominator' mentality of acceptability - i.e., 'most people' are still uncomfortable with being on 'tv' (sic). Not so much the younger 'facebook' crowd. But my fear there is the 'facebookeans' have developed an on-line 'personality profile' that is more advertisement than revelation. And yes, I would say in actuality, when everybody is used to the idea, and people become therefore 'comfortable' with video communication, and the technology has advanced past HD, that there will be, in general, a perceived nominal difference between skin to skin and image to image - other than the skin itself. It will be interesting to watch it develop because the expansion of video communication is inevitable - again in my opinion.
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    May 23 2014: It is an interesting question that needs multiple perspectives from difference disciplines. Can a admit to the hospital be evaluated over video and only if the patient is classified as needing further assessment, should the doctor be required to visit them in person versus only nurse direct interaction?