Modern trend of online meetings
This article is a brief discourse upon the reasons and motives underlying WebMeetups project. Here we try to formulate our vision on modern trends of online meetings in contemporary society.
The market of teleconference services and of video conferencing providers is huge. One can roughly estimate demand for online meetings by a brief survey of Google Adwords statistics. It says that the cost of a click for queries containing ‘video conference’ starts from 10$ and can easily go up to 50$. Every month Google experiences hundreds of thousands of search queries targeted at finding some kind of tool that facilitates online meetings.
On the other side of the market there are dozens and dozens of providers of remote meeting software that offers various functionality depending on the type of meeting: from teleconferences (BlueJeans, Conferize, etc.), and webinars (Gotomeeting, Anymeeting, Onwebinar, etc.) and up to online parties (Skype, Viber, Whatsapp, Google Hangouts, etc.).
Need for communication is one of the basic human needs, so it is no surprise that people satisfy it by meeting each other. Modern technologies just allow to make it online, without leaving your place. Growing bandwidth makes it possible to bring people all over the world together and HD quality of a video call is becoming an ordinary thing. Leaving pros & cons of virtual meetings vs. IRL meetings aside let’s plunge just a little into the communication process in attempt to dig out it’s matter.
Communication is all about exchanging information. To transfer the information in time and space you need some kind of medium. The more information a medium can transmit at a unit of time — the richer the medium is. So says media richness theory.
To illustrate this point one can think of the language of intelligent reptile species in Harry Harrison’s ‘Eden’. Except for verbal communication it included changes in the color of their skin, i.e. not only faculty of hearing but also of sight. So in low light conditions their medium becomes noticeably ‘poorer’ as they can not tell the color thus losing some amount of information.
The same happens with us when we use the means that do involve only some of our senses: during a phone call we can not perceive mimics or gestures of the person on the other side. Hence, we lose some volume of information. To sum it up, the most obvious answer to the question ‘Why do people prefer video calls over other means of communication?’ is probably the following: video conferencing is the second richest medium after face-to-face conversation.
Let’s find out what are other reasons underlying this growing trend of online meetings. We tried to keep them in mind while we were developing our first version of WebMeetups.
Reason #1. Curiosity — not the Mars rover, but the human thirst for knowledge. One of the most effective ways (and probably the cheapest) to slake this thirst is to ask another person, especially an experienced one. When you discuss the subject of your interest with an expert you satisfy not only active, but also passive knowledge needs. These are concealed needs, that you’re not aware of before digging deeper into the subject.
Reason #2. Need for collaboration to get work done. The complexity of contemporary tasks often offers no choice other than to get united in teams and groups. There are many circumstances under which web-based communication is preferable to any other means. Here the importance of usability can’t be overestimated — the form of communication should not distract from its contents.
Reason #3. Source of inspiration. It is the point where distinctive feature of information as a peculiar intangible resource of the modern world becomes apparent. Namely, its capability of reproducing — when you share your thoughts and ideas with another person you don’t have to give them away as it would happen with something material, for example with apples. Sharing thoughts and opinions with each other enriches the mind only at the cost of the time spent on the conversation. Worthwhile investment.
Reason #4. Social capital. Internet helps to establish useful connections and to build up decent social capital within the web. Social discovering is one of the major motives to create various social networks.
Reason #5. Cultural challenge. Meeting a stranger, especially a foreigner is always a challenge. A challenge for your language skills, for the ability to comprehend and to bring major thought to your interlocutor. International virtual meetings can challenge different cultural stereotypes and demolish some complexes, as well as can help to practice your eloquence.
They say information is cheap but knowledge is dear. But nowadays very often it turns out that both could be priceless. This inability to express the value of an object in terms of money could mean radically opposite things. One is that it has no value at all and two that it has an inexpressible value for its user. But we reckon that everyone indeed wants to receive valuable information that could be turned into useful knowledge.
We can’t conceal the fact that we do like this modern trend of online meetings and we’re doing our utmost to let everyone benefit out if it. You are welcome to join us at webmeetups.net and to help us to produce meaningful communication.
If you want to participate in shaping the future of this project or to share your thoughts or opinions — please don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments below or to send them directly to us.