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Meeting Tech: We’ve come so far, so fast

October 21, 2011

Back in the day….

Keyboard Past and Future

It was the early-mid 90s when I first got started in the meetings industry. I had the Rachel haircut, and I used to listen endlessly to my cassette of the Four Weddings and a Funeral Soundtrack on my teal walkman (yellow was sold out) while waiting for my pictures to develop at the one-hour photo.

Back then, we had space books. To book a meeting room, we would open up these massive day planners that were customized with all of our meeting rooms, and we would block in the space we needed for a group. Confirmed bookings were in pen, tentative bookings in pencil, and bids were in faint pencil. There was an art to telling how likely something was to booking based on the level of pencil intensity.

Then there was the audio visual: mostly overhead projectors, carrousel slide projectors, and, when we were getting really high tech, caramate slide viewers for the speaker ready room. Oh, and no one wanted internet in the rooms because let’s face, it, that modem dial up sound was horrendous. We didn’t even have google. All of the papers that I had written for my undergrad could fit on a single 1.44MB 3 1/2 inch floppy disk. The early ones were researched in the card catalogue, and I was even pretty proficient with microfiche.

Before this turns into a story of how I used to have to walk to school uphill both ways in the driving snow, let me get to the point of this post…

Technology has totally transformed in both meetings and education.

In Back to the Future style I travel back in time in my super cool racing stripe Chrysler Neon and tell my younger self about the future. Here’s how it goes:

  • 2011 Me: In the future, we’ll have hybrid meetings with live and virtual attendees.
  • 1994 Me: What? Aren’t hybrids those bicycles that are for both trails and roads? What do they have to do with meetings?
  • 2011 Me: In the future, speakers will bring their presentations on thumb drives that can carry thousands and thousands of slides on a gadget the size of a Fun Dip stick.
  • 1994 Me: So, how do you expand them to fit into the carrousel?
  • 2011 Me: In 2011, if your keynote can’t fly, he/she can still present their session using live streaming. It helps to lower your carbon footprint too.
  • 1994 Me: Presenters can fly in the future? Is it because they wear carbon shoes?

And it keeps changing

My kids are 3 and 7, and it seems like they are an entirely different generation when it comes to technology. As examples:

  • 4 years ago, an unfinished sandwich would be hidden in the VCR. Now I have no idea where it goes and I keep expecting to find a hidden stash somewhere. Very disturbing. Advantage: 2007
  • 4 years ago, I would hear “I’m going to tell Papa!” Now I hear “I’m going to text Papa!” Advantage: undecided.
  • 4 years ago, we rented Dora DVDs at the video store. Now we still watch Dora, but this time we get her from iTunes. Good thing “Isa turn the wheel” is such a catchy little song, because it has been playing in my head for 7 years.  Advantage: 2011 (lower carbon)
  • 4 years ago, we had leap pad. Now we have iPad. Key word here being “we”. I’m not sure how my business tool ended up being shared by all, but there are some advantages, see next point. Advantage: undecided.
  • 4 years ago, dinner and a movie was fast food and and the movie theatre. Now, dinner and a movie means a real restaurant and headphones. Advantage: 2011.

What would you say to your younger self about the future of technology?

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