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BY CHRIS HARDIE

Technology glitch provides wishful glimpse

The pandemic may eventually go away but virtual meetings are here to stay.

While many have returned to the ovce, the option of working remotely using video conference tools will continue. A report from Upwork said that 25% of Americans worked from home in 2021 and by 2025, 36.2 million Americans will work remotely, an 87% increase from pre-pandemic levels.

More than half of companies allow for remote work and many are using it as a recruiting tool to attract employees from all over the country. We now live in a world where you can live anywhere and work anywhere.

Not everyone, of course. You can’t remotely frame a house, assemble goods in a factory or serve a meal. And in order to remotely connect with others, you need a fast and reliable internet connection to be the most euective.

My connection is slow and unreliable. My internet is the same. But I overcome my personal slowness and that of my technology by being resourceful, creative and inventive. Sometimes that involves tapping into my equally slow and unreliable companions – me and myself.

Recently I had a Zoom meeting that I had scheduled. Many days while working at home I use my desktop computer because it has a large 20-inch screen and I find it easier typing on the keyboard.

But the desktop does not have a camera or microphone – which is great for the other virtual participants because they don’t have to see or listen to me. So I normally have my laptop set up as well, which has a camera and a microphone.

The problem with my laptop is that it is seven years old and I bought it used. So it’s old and sluggish – like me. And I don’t completely power it down often enough, which makes it slow waking up when I have three diuerent browsers and dozens of windows and programs operating.

So while my laptop was acting like me trying to get out of bed in the morning after a long day of cutting wood, I figured out another way to participate in the meeting. I started the Zoom meeting from my desktop computer (where I had my password saved) and then joined it from my phone. Had I remembered my password, I could have just used my phone.

All of this finagling resulted in the Zoom screen showing a static photo of me from the desktop and I participated with video and audio from my phone.

That dynamic duo was working fine until the laptop finally woke up and there was a third photo of myself showing up on the screen. For a brief moment, there were three Hardies in the meeting.

I was fine with it, but the additional digital presence of myself didn’t sit well with me as there was a conflict with two video and audio feeds. So I had to cut the laptop feed to spite myself, leaving just the two of us to complete the meeting.

All of these Hardie digital doppelgangers were a little confusing to my Zoom participant, but I promised him that we – or was that me – had it all under control. At least that’s what I told myself.

This electronic wizardry only edged me slightly closer to getting my work done and actually cost me some valuable time. If only there were a way to divide myself into thirds and share the workload.

Chris Hardie spent more than 30 years as a reporter, editor and publisher. He was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and won dozens of state and national journalism awards. He is a former president of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association. Contact him at [email protected] com.

June 21, 2022