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From Emma – Beam Me Up, Google

August 5, 2014

Technology today is a crazy, crazy thing (and I’m saying this as a theatre techie who has only just joined the world of smartphones).

metaVideo chat in particular is noteworthy for its futuristic-feeling appeal – between Skype and Google Hangouts and Facetime, it’s a vaguely Star Trekkish existence we have. The technology is still evolving and still has a ways to go before the kinks are worked out, but the potential that exists is remarkable. I can group chat with college friends scattered over the US, and it’s like no time has passed. I can catch up with my sister in Israel and see that, despite the scary news reports, she’s okay. The Touchstone Ensemble even took advantage of Google Hangouts during the white-out snow storms of this past winter and held snow day meetings from home (there may have been virtual funny hats involved).

And, in another dizzying technological turn of events, next season will see Jp and myself working towards a Masters Degree in Performance (Theatre Collectives) from the University of Chichester, via distance learning.

We had our first Skype meet-up with an instructor a couple weeks ago. It was peppered with your garden variety sprinkling of video freezes and audio-video-not-synching-up and whatnot. And yet, even the ability to have that conversation was remarkable. The fact that Jp and I get to work on this course of study as part of our job, the fact that we can do this during the busy season without having to take a year off from Touchstone, live in England for a year— it’s mind-boggling to me. It feels like we’re just inches away from Skynet take-over or Cylons rebelling or Holodeck simulations running amok (yes, I’m letting my geek flag fly).

I was a compulsive scribbler and note-taker in college, and I still am one. I’m happy to use technology, am the frequent typist/note taker at meetings, but my impulse is (usually) still to reach for pencil and paper. That part of my mind is leery of approaching these studies via video chat. How will this compare to the immediacy of in-person conversation? How replaceable is the participant classroom or lecture hall or laboratory experience?

I’m not sure what this coming season’s studies are going to hold for us – besides a lot of reading and a lot of video chats – but I know that just being able to learn in this way, just having this opportunity, is an incredible privilege, one that we’re both thrilled to have.

Wish us luck! We’re off to hit the books and pray to the Skype gods for a stable connection.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Bill permalink
    August 5, 2014 10:10 am

    Yeah. It’s a boon for all of us. I too am grateful. It’s amazing, wonderful, a really good thing. So much, it seems to me, drives us a part in what’s going on in our culture; it’s absolutely terrific that this technology has stepped in to bring us together. Grateful.

  2. August 5, 2014 4:50 pm

    Go Emma and Jp! How exciting for you guys and Touchstone. I’m looking forward to reading the chronicles of your graduate adventures.

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