When I was a kid, I hated talking on the phone. I mean, truly hated it. To the point where I would often make my mother place a call on my behalf. This is true. I had some real anxiety around the whole thing. And still do, as my wife will now tell you. It’s perhaps strange — though perhaps less strange than I think it is. Anyway, I bring it up now to kick off a love letter to the phone call.
As bad as phone calls are, I’m not convinced Zoom calls are at least 1,000x worse. Which is not a slight on Zoom — what they offer is clearly extremely valuable and the company is clearly valued as such — it’s not hyperbolic to think that without them in our COVID reality, the world would be operating meaningfully worse. Still. Six months in, I’m pretty done with being on Zoom calls.
It went something like this: in-person meetings were the norm, then COVID hit, then in-person meetings went away, most meetings were postponed to see how the world would shake out, and when it was clear that it would not shake-out anytime soon, Zoom became the replacement for the in-person meeting. Makes sense, it’s video. You can still see the person with whom you intend to speak.
Of course, a Zoom meeting is not a replacement for an in-person meeting at all. It’s something entirely different which we’re all pretending is an appropriate substitute. But it’s not. And what’s crazy is that the older technology — again, the phone call — is actually better as a fill-in for the in-person meeting, in most cases, I find. There are plusses and minuses, obviously. And your own mileage may vary. But I much, much, much prefer the phone call now to the Zoom call.
Freedom to move. Freedom to not be putting on some kind of visual performance. Freedom to not have to stare at a screen because the other person is staring at their screen.
Again, we all understand why we thought video would be the best substitute for in-person — it’s visual. But I honestly think it’s worse in many ways. And worse, it lulls us into thinking it’s a direct replacement when in fact, it’s something entirely different.
So if the next time I speak to you is on the phone, now you know why. And it’s certainly not because it’s easy for me. I just honestly think it’s better for both parties. Til we meet again.
Gateway is back! Yes, the artist formerly known as ‘Gateway 2000’. Yes, the cow-print boxes. Yes, the brand is now owned by Acer and will be sold as budget laptops at Walmart. Yes, this is a bit depressing. 🐄
Is “Huang’s Law” — silicon chips that power artificial intelligence will more than double in performance every two years — the new “Moore’s Law”? 🤖
Google Maps now has a COVID-19 layer. Very useful. 🗺
As you may have heard, Casey Newton is leaving The Verge to break out on his own, with a newsletter on Substack called Platformer. This interview with him features some smart thoughts about the trend, the space, bundling, etc. 📝
Apple has removed ‘Force Touch’ from all Apple Watches with watchOS 7. This is sort of wild — it was a key part of the device from the get go and is baked into the hardware. They tried (and failed) to translate it to the iPhone as well, but I think that had just as much to do with inconsistency as anyway. Anyway, I was clearly wrong about this. 👇
Apple Watch and iPad put on a good show, but the undercard of Fitness+, Apple One, and the A14 chip may have upstaged…
Widgets in iOS 14 change more than layouts…
The return policy for new Apple Watch bands is just loopy
Blogging in the time of COVID
The new Echo devices sound great. But so do the old ones, still.