Thursday, September 08, 2005

Talking in Privacy

I just finished having a three hour phone conversation with my friend, who lives four floors below me. Why didn’t I just go down and visit her? It’s the middle of the night and I’m in my PJ’s. I don’t feel like seeing anyone and I don’t feel like anyone seeing me. Thanks to the trusty landline, I was able to catch up on the week’s gossip without having to move from my apartment. During our conversation I was able to do the dishes, have something to eat and even *blush* go to the toilet – all in the privacy of my own home.

This is where I would question the practicality of video phones. Sure the Vodafone ads have a good point when they say the person you’re talking to can now see what you’re talking about. But let’s face it; text messaging and email are a success because we can avoid talking and GETTING PERSONAL. Video calling seems like its taking a step backwards or going in the opposite direction that everything else has been moving towards.

Personally I cringe at the idea of video calling, as it seems to me to be an invasion of personal space. When I’m at home I’m a slob. Even when I’m not at home I don’t like the idea of someone seeing me when I’m not prepared. I’m the kind of person that gets shy when I have to call people I don’t know, let alone having them see me. Come to think of it, like most people, I HATE MY PICTURE BEING TAKEN TOO!!! In my three hour conversation, I was able to relax without feeling self conscious about how I looked or what else I was doing. I enjoyed the freedom and privacy of being alone.

Video calling was actually introduced in the US in the early 60’s and has still not yet taken off. I think this is because of the personal space and privacy issues that can be associated with people being able to see each other during phone calls. Although many people said the same thing about picture messages (which I’m over anyway), I find it hard to see video calling ever becoming really popular. I think that it may be just another technological advancement that will become a short lived phase for those who like to show off their new “gadgets”, until there’s something new out.


At 9:31 AM, Blogger Kevin said...

That's a very interesting point, Vicki. Personally, my suspicion of video calls holds no bounds.

I think it's a gimmick in terms of daily use, but may well find legitimate application by

a) Late night 0900 number equivalents,
b) Give heavy breathers the opportunity to extend their talents to flashing people. This has already happened with PXTing.

In terms of pure communication, video phones don't seem to add anything in particular. If the system were insanely cheap, more people would play with it.

On the upside, it would mean I'd get a good look at the thrice-damned telemarketers. If THEY were less anonymous, I think they'd be much more wary of going outside.

- Kevin.

At 6:19 PM, Blogger vicki said...

Its more of a novelty than something that's going to catch on as practical and useful.

The upsides may be that you could see long distance family or friends.

But I get all these creepy images associated with video calling (like flashing!) such as people seeing into someone else's home or strangers seeing what you look like. I'm sure a whole lot of young people could find themselves getting themselves into trouble, maybe in the same sort of ways that they did with chat rooms? It could cause trouble or even be dangerous.

As for telemarketers- i think it would be so much harder to be rude to them over the phone if they could see you, dammit!

At 10:51 AM, Blogger Kevin said...

Heh. I think the idea that it's harder to be rude to telemarketers when you can see them is an interesting one.

Doesn't it go two ways? Telemarketing and market research is a tough job (been there, the place was run by a pack of escaped Nazis) but wouldn't it be even harder if you had to see the people being harassed?

Visual inclusion goes both ways, and there are positive and negative elements. It'd be a major modification of how people characterise the 'space' that is entered into during phone conversations, and this is an idea that's very relevant to this week's tutorials and lectures.

I think that mainly you're right, it'll remain a niche gimmick.

Until someone does something unexpected with it, and as such we can't predict those posssibilities.

- Kevin.


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