Zoom: It’s the ’60s PicturePhone come true
today at 9:01 pm
When I’m getting ready for a meeting on Zoom, from a committee to coffee hour after church, I find myself thinking of my mother.
She died in March 2006, but she saw one of the problems with Zoom, or at least with one of its forerunners. When we went on a family trip to the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, we saw a Bell Telephone exhibit about something called the PicturePhone. You could make a phone call and see the people on the other end — on a black and white TV, but you could see them.
I was young enough, and the row of TVs was high enough, that my face just barely showed on the screen. My mother’s evidently showed too clearly for her.
“What if I’m not ready when the phone rings?” I remember her asking. “What if my hair’s not right?”
I got new eyeglasses recently, and a Zoom meeting on Monday was a good chance to check out how they look and how my makeup looks with them. (They’re OK, Mom.)
So what if I’m not ready? Somebody else on the call may not be, either. What we weren’t thinking of back then was getting codes and other information for “joining meetings” ahead of time. The sudden phone call idea is gone.
Meanwhile, what’s at the Science and Industry (we always left off the word “museum” at my house) that might get us through the next health crisis? It may take us 30 or 40 years to know. No, make that MAY it take us that long before the next crisis.