Digital Complexity

As I previously stated, we are currently living the largest social and professional experiment of our time in which many activities have moved to digital, virtual long distance connections. Quite interestingly over that past 5 weeks my usage of videoconferencing software has been on average 14h/week (range 8h to 19h). Even is the most busy videoconferencing week, I have found that the interaction with colleagues and students not fully satisfying.

With the start of the summer semester and the arrival of the summer students, I find myself missing the quick and unplanned corridor and lab interactions. Even the short one tends appear more intellectually fulfilling (and effective) that a longer videoconferencing meeting. I am guessing this has more to do with the human contact part of the thing, looking into someone eyes and body language for direct feedback.

In any case, prior to the COVID-19 situation, I was getting by with a single work e-mail associated with my university MS 365 account and a secondary personal e-mail. OK I was cheating a bit, since I had a redirect of the hospital e-mail to my university one. Otherwise, I was using FaceTime and Skype (with a the occasional GoTo Meeting) videoconferencing and Basecamp for sharing with my research team. That’s it!

Since the middle of March, my digital life has expanded leaps and bounds. Both my hospital research center and hospital medical physics department have adopted (separately) MS 365 tools, meaning two more e-mails each associated with their own Outlook, OneNote and Teams accounts. Thus with the university one, I now have three of those which of course (thanks M$) cannot co-exist together at the same time in the app…So much to keeping in touch in real-time across the board!

In teaching to various group sizes, we quickly realized that both Skype and Teams are not up for the task. So, welcome a Zoom account, adding a new videoconferencing software/account to the mix…in addition to the occasional Teams (I am underwhelm with its performance for now) for which remember I now have three different accounts. Our university department further create a Slack account, adding yet a new account.

So the new reality is as follow:

  • 3 x MS 365 accounts (including 3 Teams accounts)
  • Slack (what an ugly interface!)
  • Basecamp (free for education – so much nicer and useful than Slack in my opinion)
  • Double of e-mail accounts relative to pre-COVID era
  • Zoom, Skype, FaceTime and 3 Teams accounts for videoconferencing, in addition to the occasional GoTo Meeting.

There is no going back, I know, but I am missing the simpler time…

Note: maze picture used for this post from: http://www.cgl.uwaterloo.ca/csk/projects/mazes/

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