Friday, May 22, 2020

Meeting on and off line

We got together in a friend's backyard and discussed Bill Bryson's The Body: A Guide for Occupants.  It is a fine and fun book.  If you don't appreciate what a marvel your body is, you probably will after reading The Body.  We all put so much emphasis on our minds and our thinking ability and our emotions and feelings, it is easy to forget about the super-complex structures we are.  Maybe more than any other phrase during our conversations, we heard "we don't know".  

It's no shame to not know and that is a good thing because there is so much, so very much that we don't know. Furthermore, the more we learn and the more we understand, the easier it is to see how much beyond our knowledge we still don't know.  

It was fun to sit the safe six feet apart and talk.  It was fun not to be using screens and wi-fi to talk.  It was fun to hear more than one conversation taking place at once and find all of it comprehensible and valuable.

Lynn also had a meeting with friends, also outdoors and also "live", not using mics or cameras or wi-fi.  She enjoyed side conversations that were possible and lively.  I have heard that technologists and programmers have not been able to really duplicate the complexity and speed of message, verbal and non-verbal that flash around among an assembled group of conversers. It's no wonder.  I can be interested in the reaction of one group member to another's comment and quickly throw a glance in his direction with no warning, no hesitation and very short duration.  Uh, just as I thought: he disapproves.  I ask "What do you think, Harry?" and Harry fills me in on why he disagrees.  All the while, the main idea that is on the most of the group's mind continues to be discussed.

Of course, a main feature of actual group meetings is that one only has to show up and sit down.  With many online meetings, it seems to be that initiation, the start and connection is the source of many difficulties.  I am listening to my wife say to a friend,"Everybody has had trouble getting on."  She means to convey there is nothing wrong or stupid or smacking of failure - getting to be part of the gathering is not easy.  There are more ways to not understand, to click on the wrong option, than just walking into the right room.

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