Read D.F.'s bio and previous columns
August 25, 2008
Preventing My Annoyance, Er, I Mean Saving the Earth
am in love. Mrs. Krause knows about it too. I am in love with web
conferencing. Granted, our love is more utilitarian than, say, soulmate
forever type stuff. I wouldn’t even go so far as to say I like
web conferencing (since it does, after all, mean a meeting is
happening), but I love it for what it keeps me from having to do.
Here is my hierarchy of meeting preferences:
Chat over e-mail.
Head boiled in acid
after ripping away of flesh.
Now I realize some of the people who ask me to attend meetings with them
may be taken aback to learn this. It’s nothing personal. I’d be glad to
talk to you in a restaurant, on a street corner or even in a hot tub.
(Actually that last one only applies to some of you.)
But those aren’t meetings. Meetings are different. Meetings waste time.
First, someone has to travel to the meeting location. Or maybe everyone
has to travel to it. That depends where it is. Then, you have to shake
Don’t get me started on shaking hands. Then you have to update each
other on “how you’ve been,” a question you only ask people you don’t see
that often and don’t think to contact in between get-togethers, because
you don’t actually care how they’ve been.
Then you have to give or receive an offer of coffee, water or whatever.
Then you have to comment on some irrelevant aspect of the person’s
appearance, wardrobe choice that day, disposition, etc.
the time you start working your way through the agenda, the work day is
over. By the time you get home, it’s 2035.
This is so self-evident to me, but for some reason, clients think it’s
good to meet. I know that because they say things like, “It would be
good to meet,” and the next thing you know I’m trudging off to
God-knows-where instead of getting work done.
You try to steer them to a phoner or just talk over e-mail, but they’re
convinced there’s just something about face-to-face. That’s where web
conferencing comes in. But I can’t get them to do it just by appealing
to the value of convenience, because then they think I’m just trying to
avoid meeting with them, which of course I am.
I came up with this one:
“Do you know that 600 billion tons of carbon are emitted into the
atmosphere daily as the result of people driving and flying to business
made that up.
had no idea!” the client said. “That makes me think I should re-evaluate
my personal practices. I want to do everything I can to minimize my
“This is one of the reasons web conferencing is growing in popularity,”
I said. “People are becoming increasingly concerned about their impact
on the Earth.”
The client was sold.
“You know, D.F., I’m really glad you told me about this. I’m going to
bring it up to our CEO and see if we can get a corporate initiative
started to use more web conferencing. As a corporate citizen, I think
it’s our responsibility.”
“Oh yes, definitely,” I wholeheartedly agreed. “The planet will thank
you for this. So we’re set for a web conference tomorrow at 2 instead of
me coming to your place?”
Confirmed. I even brought my own coffee. One word of caution, though.
It’s not like watching TV, where the person on the screen can’t see you
back (although you’ll be glad to know they can’t smell anything
you do). Just be mindful of your motions, and enjoy your triumph over
the evil meeting.
yeah. And save the Earth. I guess.
© 2008 North Star
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