ten mov.es


how to do technology in ten moves. (or less.) A Loose Wire production

Why we hate video calls

Mary Evans/Everett Collection

Good piece in the New Scientist about why we’ve always hated video calls:

When another New York Times reporter went to Pittsburgh in mid-1971, however, he found only 33 Picturephones in operation, with just 12 able to dial outside their own buildings. Aside from impracticalities such as cost, it seemed that, against all predictions, no one actually wanted video calling. Users were more interested in seeing graphics than face-to-face video conversation. At Bell Labs, Lucky recalls that the only person who called his Picturephone was his boss, Arno Penzias. “I found it very awkward because I had to stare at him,” he says.

More than that, I think the enduring non-appeal of video is that it doesn’t start to replace talking face to face. Face to face talking is not about seeing the other person, or looking them in the eyes — it’s about non-verbal communication — gestures, body language, touching, etc. It’s also about allowing other things to intervene — movement, distraction, interaction with objects.

Video calls are exhausting, because you are trying to replace all that with just maintaining eye contact, or at least giving the appearance of remaining engaged. It’s a new form of communication, and we’ve tried and rejected it. Whenever Cisco drag me over to their HQ for some elaborate video conference I always feel it’s a waste of time, and a major overengineering of a flawed medium.

Talking on the phone, meanwhile, suits us perfectly (although I’ve come to hate it almost as much as video calling.) As George Costanza once said, after going through a phone conversation with a blind date:

George: She had to be impressed by that conversation, had to! It was a great performance. I am unbelievable on the phone. On the date they should just have two phones on the table at the restaurant, done.

Phone calls have become useful because we are able to transfer a lot of the body language and non-verbal cues into speech (and silence). We’re still working on text chat, but we’re getting there. It works — it’s not exhausting. It’s communicating what we want to communicate, and filtering out what we don’t — and not reading, at least for the most part, anything into anything else.


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Thunderbird Domain Name Mismatch Problem

Another obscure one, but here in case anyone needs it.

If you’re using hosters like Dreamhost you may get a message in Thunderbird if you’re using SSL which says

You have attempted to establish a connection with "www.mydomain.com". However, the security certificate presented belongs to "www.otherdomain.com". It is possible, though unlikely, that someone may be trying to intercept your communication with this web site.

This can be a pain if you’re sending lots of emails because Thunderbird doesn’t offer you a way to disable future messages.

There are two ways around this:

– change the settings of your email server. Here’s the advice at Dreamhost.

– I found that way too complicated as it would mean changing it for each of my domains. So the next option is to install a add-on written by Andrew Lucking, which basically adds a check box to the dialog:


Problem solved.


Remember Mismatched Domains

What security settings should I use? (Dreamhost)

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Posting to Your Blog

(This is assuming you’ve already set up your blog. If not, do that first.)

Sign into your Gmail account if you haven’t already.

Type in the address of your blog, or click on the Start blogging arrow at the end of the set-up process.


Your blog should appear with a banner across the top of the page with an orange b logo at the left-hand side:


like this:


Click on the New Post link:


You’ll see what looks like a basic word processing window:


Type in the title of your post in the title box:


Then type something into the main text field below:


When you’re ready, click on the Publish Post button:


That’s it.

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