I didn’t know how much I was missing day to day interactions with human beings, at least ones that I have not fathered, until we held Pen Night online tonight, spending two and a half hours together in a videoconference. A meeting that, after a few had dropped out, and with pixelation to protect the innocent attendees, looked like this:
It was wonderful. Not quite as nice as a face to face get together, but, as I said as we concluded, something that resulted in at least a 25% increase in the state of my mental health.
It’s good to be reminded that social distancing doesn’t mean that we need to cut off contact with humanity; that this pandemic has come at this time, with the tools and bandwidth to support high-fidelity telepresence, is a great gift.
We used Zoom for the meeting, an app that all the cool kids seem to have landed on all at once over the last year (one wonders whether its status as the hip anti-Skype will hold once the calculus lectures start to be offered via Zoom next week as e-learning fires up across the continent).
You can use Zoom for free to host a meeting for up to 100 people for up to 40 minutes; I upgraded my Zoom to the $15.00/month plan which allows meetings of up to 24 hours (what a Pen Night that would be!).
This is my second Zoom of the pandemic era, and in both cases the attendees were a mix of young and old, digital-savvy and not; everyone seemed to figure it out without needing additional support, which is perhaps Zoom’s greatest selling feature: it just works.
If you have a board or a club or a group or a night, and you want to keep it going despite the need for us all to remain apart, I heartily recommend you consider this as an option; tonight it wasn’t so much the inks and the pens and the paper and the notebooks that was the important thing for me, it was the collegiality. Collegiality seems in short supply these days; fortunately it’s easily manufactured.