Posted by: Noni | January 26, 2011

Technology, working for you and against you

I got up at 3 o’clock this morning.

What a crazy hour to start the day!  I wonder how bakers do it? At first I couldn’t decide if I should just stay up all night or go to bed early and opt for setting the alarm to wake me in the middle of the night.  I chose early to bed, but why?

Not because I was going fishing or to catch a flight, (I’ve gotten up at ungodly hours for that) but to make a presentation to the South African Government via the internet.  I’m not big on early mornings so I gave myself plenty of time to get perky and alert for our conference call which was scheduled for 5:30am PST.  (15:30 South African time)

My colleague and I had prepared a PowerPoint presentation which was sent in advance with the meeting agenda.  There was to be representatives from several departments in attendance including, Dept of Education, Finance, Labor, Arts and Culture, Tourism and delegates from the University of Limpopo Film & Media program. The were all assembled in a conference room at the Premiere’s office in Polokwane.

Our big pitch is to propose building a sustainable film and media industry in the northern province of Limpopo by educating youth and providing opportunities for on-the-job-training.  Our intent was to impress upon the various delegates the importance of education in emerging media and technology since they desperately need to become current in those disciplines to ensure global competitiveness.

We weren’t 5 minute into our meeting (via Skype) that the very essence of our agenda made itself perfectly heard… or NOT.

Dropped calls and poor connections made the process nearly unbearable.  Simple communication technology that we use routinely (for years now) was complex and daunting for them.  They had a poor (slow and intermittent) internet signal which made the planned method of presentation nearly impossible.

My partner lives in South Africa a few hours away from the government offices and due to scheduling commitments and time constraints chose to attend and present via the world-wide web.  I on the other hand am currently on the west coast of Canada, half a world away.  Thankfully I’m blessed to have ultra fast broadband and I managed to reconnect the conference (Skype attendees from international locations) and take over the presentation from the other side of the globe.

After about a half hour delay my first words were “As has been duly demonstrated, there is great need to improve the state of technology and communications in the province of Limpopo”

I hope they found humor in the statement, although I wouldn’t know since I couldn’t hear them.

All in all, after 2 hours of one way conversation (excruciatingly painful not to have feedback and audience engagement) I completed the presentation and heard what I believe to be muffled applause.  (Either that or a stampede to vacate the meeting room!)

Thank goodness they had PowerPoint slides for reference, at least we know they got the visuals.

We’re going to experiment with alternate conferencing software for future calls.  With luck we’ll find something suited to the low-bandwidth available on the receiving end.

Any suggestions???

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