How Coronavirus lockdown made a ‘Zoom boom’ generation

Zoom call

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First I realized how quickly attitudes towards technology changed when my mother told me two days after the blockade began that she had downloaded Skype.

She’s not exactly one of the first to adopt – in fact, she has definitely refused to call anyone, ever, until now.

Lockdown has removed the luxury of choice for many of us. If you want to see your relatives, it must be on the screen.

As we overcome the social embarrassment of the “zoom boom” – when to mute that microphone, when to stop talking – we are realizing that, for the most part, video chat works.

Whether it’s family reunions, pub quizzes, office reunions, or even pet appointments with the vet, we can get together quickly without being in the same room – and there’s a good chance it will stay.

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Twitter has already told its staff that they will never have to go back to the office and Cambridge University says that its lessons will remain purely online until the summer of 2021.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said this week that 50% of the workforce could work from home in the next 5-10 years.

Technology giant’s head of virtual reality Andrew Bosworth shared a fascinating video of what a mixed reality workspace might look like – a combination of real world and digital imagery.

“Reliable assistant”

In general, the Internet infrastructure has dealt fairly well with everyone who builds on it, at least for those who have access to more robust services.

Some experts have long asked that the network be recognized as a public utility, together with electricity, water and gas – as well as the necessary regulation that derives from it – and perhaps it has finally earned its spurs.

John Graham-Cumming, of the Internet security company Cloudflare, said that the company is seeing three daily peaks for Internet traffic worldwide – the first thing in the morning, at lunchtime and in the early evening – and they are bigger than ever.

“If you think of the Internet as a utility, you can think of another utility that could sustain 50% growth [in traffic]? “He said.

“The network has been a reliable companion in all of this.”

And tech companies have definitely noticed their opportunity.

Microsoft’s Satya Nadella says digital transformation has advanced two years in two months as we try to be entertained, connected, and track what is going on during the pandemic.

Technological alternatives

We can already see investments and goodwill behind technological alternatives in search of new ways of doing things: this could be the moment when the delivery of drones finally take off (sorry for the pun), e-scooters can take a ride more easy and the virtual gyms put our post-block bodies through their steps, through a headset, in the comfort of our homes?

The story will eventually reveal whether the blockade was the dawn of a new era or simply a step forward before things got back to the way they were.

In order for technology to truly prove to be a turning point, it must become part of the furnishings: coherent, reliable and, therefore, absolutely irrelevant.

And as anyone who has had an unexpected outage at a frustrating moment in the past few weeks will tell you, we’re not quite there yet.

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