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VIII.6 Nov./Dec. 2001
Page: 4
Digital Citation


Steven Pemberton

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Interactions is published in New York. Many of the people involved in its production have therefore not surprisingly been more deeply affected than most of us by the events that happened on September 11th. Despite all that, and the following bomb scares that required their (high-rise) building to be evacuated, this issue is still going to press on time. I want to thank all the staff at ACM for their strength and resolve during these terrible times.

Although I am based in Europe myself, I was in New York on the day it happened. I was stranded there for a week after, and so could experience some of the effects at first hand. It was an event none of us will easily forget.

Just before my trip to New York, I had bought a tiny webcam for my laptop computer. I hadn't planned to use it for my trip, but took it anyway, and in fact it came in very useful. Thanks to free local calls in the United States, I could leave my laptop connected to the internet all day, and randomly video-conference with my family. They left the webcam on at their end, so I could see what was happening in the house, and at least have a partial feeling of being at home—and not trapped in a generic hotel room—and they could have a feeling that I was a bit there.

As I write, I am preparing to go to the airport for a flight, and wishing that I didn't have any business trips on my agenda for a few months. What I really wish was that video conferencing was more widely usable than it currently is. At least one of the groups I am involved with is seriously looking into using video-conferencing to replace some of its meetings; I hope that this is the start of the video conferencing age. The user interfaces will have to drastically improve, especially for multi-person meetings by video, with better control for the person chairing. (A clear indication of who is currently talking—and of who has queued up to talk—would be an excellent start.) But bandwidth is increasing, doubling per year by the looks of things; video conferencing is hopefully the future.

Steven Pemberton

P.S. After the CHI conference in Europe last year, a group of local people organized the very successful Dutch Design Day. I want to thank Jonathan Arnowitz for arranging to make the event less ephemeral by organizing a CD of the exhibits, and for organizing the financing of the CD, so that we are able to distribute it to all of you. Good work Jonathan!

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