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Facing Reality

There's a lot of social and cultural shifts that need to happen to prepare for more remote working activity.

Seamus Byrne
Seamus Byrne
4 min read
Facing Reality

Mobile World Congress has officially been canned for 2020. It’s a hell of a thing to call off one of the biggest conferences out there within two weeks of it taking place. So much already invested. So much lost for the beautiful city of Barcelona when the masses do not descend.

What it makes me wonder about, though, is the nature of needing to be there in person to see what’s new. I’ve been to MWC a bunch of times. It’s great. But do all the tens of thousands need to be there in the flesh? Is there a better way to get what we need without turning up in person?

It’s wildly complicated, of course. But it’s a reminder we are a very long way from using all the great online conferencing technology we have at our disposal to hold meetings and conferences while remaining physically dislocated.

Part of it is social. We do need certain levels of real face time to build rapport and grow trust. Even for bouncing ideas efficiently. There’s an innate need for proximity when we’re trying to do important things.

And as a work from home guy, and largely a happy hermit, I can admit that it’s hard to be alone all the time.

But part of it is cultural. We’ve just not really made a commitment to remote meetings and built better work practices around what it means to join a video call and to give full attention to a meeting if we’re not physically present.

I’d love to see more Australian press events offer to let me attend via video link. It’s very hard for me to take 5 hours out of my day to travel to a 2 hour launch event. But I’d love to see it happening in real time, and to ask questions, and not just get the press release later because I couldn’t be there.

Major events like MWC are a lot more than a glorified press conference. There’s a LOT of big business taking place in meeting rooms, restaurants and bars all over the city. A lot of very important, very real handshakes sealing deals.

But I think there’s more cultural stagnation involved with the slow adoption of virtual presence at such events. I’d love to see an army of telepresence robots like Double letting us login and explore events from afar. To get *most* of the value, and perhaps find out who or what it is we then really do need to catch up with more personally another time.

For now, a few video links at press events would be a good start.

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Founder and Head of Content at Byteside.

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