Many of my long-time readers know I have somewhat of a double life. I have a high-tech life and my low-tech life. My high-tech life involves lots of the latest, often unreleased gadgets, where I try and live in the future and make sense of what all that means. My low-tech life involves a lot of gardening, farming, and animal husbandry. I often merge these lives, like in this story of how my iPhone and YouTube were a real-time midwife as I assisted my first goat birth. Or when I tested my drone to see if I could use it to herd my goats. But recently, I had another merger of tech and the farm life when I had a chance to FaceTime, the game warden.
We recently started raising a flock of sheep. We invested in four females, and a male and our desire is to build a flock and keep them pro-creating. Early this spring we successfully started having lambs born from all our female ewes. It’s always a great time on the farm when babies are born, and our kids love going out and playing and holding the newborns.
But, we live in the country, very close to the mountains, and because of that, we have frequent unwanted predators in our area. We have had several close run-ins with Mountain Lions with people in our neighborhood but not yet in our yard. We have had issues with Bobcat’s killing our chickens and Coyote’s as well, but I’ve never lost a larger animal in our livestock to a predator. Until recently.
We first lost three of our babies to a Coyote, I think. Then a few weeks later we lost an adult ewe, and that is when I got more worried. Especially, since I see regular Mountain Lion sighting posts on Nextdoor. So I wanted to make sure a Mountain Lion did not kill our ewe, so I called the game warden. The country posted a request to report any Mountain Lion sightings as they are trying to track it and trap it.
Considering I had not lost a larger animal to a predator I couldn’t tell if what killed our ewe was a Coyote or a Mountain Lion, so I reached out to the county. I had heard if there was suspicion of a Mountain Lion they would come out and do an inspection. Eventually, I got a call back from the Game Warden.
I didn’t have all day, and I couldn’t leave the sheep in my yard for days so I was hoping the Game Warden could come out sooner than later. But then he made a request I did not expect. He has currently in the Santa Cruz mountains dealing with another issue but asked if I could FaceTime and then show him the kill and he could asses it virtually. I thought this was interesting because he had no idea if I had an iPhone, but given more than half the adults in the US have an iPhone it wasn’t a bad bet. I figure if I didn’t have an iPhone I probably could have sent him pictures, but since we both could FaceTime, it made it possible to do an assessment in real-time.
So we started a FaceTime video call, and I followed his directions and showed him every angle and detail he asked for during our brief 10 min chat. Ultimately he concluded it was a Coyote and then offered some suggestions as to how to keep Coyote’s at bay, most of which I already knew.
What’s the point of my story you ask? Well, this event struck me that video conferencing, or FaceTime, in particular, has truly and very quietly gone mainstream.
When Apple first released FaceTime, it was one of those technologies we all assumed would go mainstream but it diffused quite slowly. A number of reports had come out early on talking about the number of users regularly using FaceTime. There were even some reports about how this would impact carrier networks, data plans, and broadband in general. But then it all went quiet, and people stopped talking about video calls altogether. It was hyped as the next great communication medium and then total silence.
This is not just in consumer behavior but also in the enterprise. The number of regular video conferences as an everyday behavior for work and collaboration is all but normal for many enterprise workers. A fundamental way we talk and collaborate is now mainstream and became so rather quietly. This observation is what interests me the most.
I have written before about how I see my teenage daughters using FaceTime for homework, and now Group FaceTime for remote hangouts. But among Gen Z it seems their primary communication is either by text or by video call. They literally never just “talk” on the phone. I have several close friends in construction and they FaceTime almost daily with their foreman’s to talk over plans or inspect work. What is interesting about this is that it allows the company to take on more business when a foreman can be remote and still visually inspect areas of a job. In this case, it isn’t always a total replacement for physically being there, but not every inspection completely requires an in-person appearance. It used to, in the days before video calls, but now they can be even more productive by being “transported” to different job sites via FaceTime.
I mentioned the workplace, and as remote working becomes more the normal, the ease of video conferencing is not a regular activity. Part of what makes this possible is not just that broadband is so good now the quality of the video conference is amazing, but that we also have remote collaboration tools from screen share, to whiteboard, and the broadband is good enough that every collaboration experience is fluid with no delays or jitters. I just recently did a video conference with a client in Taiwan, and even they admitted this was better than flying 15 people over to meet with us and equally as productive.
Video calling, video conference, remote collaboration using video in real-time, and more is a sleeper trend I’m fascinated that doesn’t get enough attention. It seems like a fairly transformative behavior that is a big deal that slowly crept into our regular behavior without anyone really blinking an eye. Perhaps there is something to be said about this type of technological adoption and how some of the most life-changing technologies may be the ones that are most quietly diffused.