Thursday, February 19, 2004

State of the Art: Videophones Revisited, by Way of the Modem

State of the Art: Videophones Revisited, by Way of the Modem: "In short, having a high-speed Internet connection neatly solves the technological problems that have prevented videophones from becoming commonplace. It does not, however, solve the cultural problems.
Using the VisiFone makes you acutely aware of being on camera, especially if you tap the View button to place your own image in a small picture-in-picture rectangle on the screen. There are buttons that can 'mute' the audio or video, freeze the outgoing picture while you perform small acts of personal grooming, and so on.
Nonetheless, a videophone deprives you of visual privacy. You're pretty much obligated to give the other guy your full attention, and even nod understandingly, while he talks; you can't doodle or shoot exasperated 'What a windbag!' expressions at your spouse. You're locked in front of the phone, too, worried about centering yourself in the frame. (The screen tilts up and down, but not side to side.) You can't clip your nails or walk around, cleaning the apartment as you chat. "

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