Last night I had a new experience. I spoke at a beekeeping meeting in Tennessee without leaving my old Kentucky home. This was accomplished via a video conference link coordinated by Barry Richards, the webmaster of this site. Barry is very good at the new high-tech stuff, and is doing his best to drag me into 21st century technology. When we first set up this webpage, Barry mentioned the possibility of doing presentations at beekeeping meetings by video conferencing, but I was not real excited about the possibility.
A couple of weeks ago he asked me, since my new iPad has the capability, if I would participate at a video conference with the Robertson County, Tennessee beekeepers. Well, he caught me at a weak moment and I said yes. On the afternoon of the meeting, as I was busy in my bee yard catching swarms, I began thinking that, if I were attending in person, I would have to be getting ready to leave now. I started liking the idea more. And it went well, with the exception of a brief loss of my DSL connection at home.
Barry and I had done a test run on Sunday, and last night we were ready. Through a video camera set up in the meeting room in Tennessee, I could see and hear the beekeepers on my iPad screen while sitting at the desk in my library. He also set up a projector and speakers. The camera on my iPad went through Barry’s laptop, projecting my image on the screen and my voice through the speakers. Barry says they heard me fine, and I could see everyone, and even hear beekeepers asking questions from the back of the room. Actually, it was pretty neat. Instead of having to drive 3 1/2 hours to get home after the meeting, I was seated in our living room in front of the TV a few minutes later, watching the Reds pound the Giants 9-2.
Technology can’t replace the interactions of a personal appearance. We do lose the one on one conversations before and after the meetings, and I know that some people prefer to ask questions aside, rather than in front of a group. But there is no way I could have driven to Tennessee for a meeting on Monday night and, considering that, the video conference was a good substitute. Now that I’ve tried it, I’m sold. I suspect that a lot of extension offices around the country (not just in Kentucky) have the capability of doing the same thing, so let’s all think about that. I’m game if you are. Barry and I are not done with this; we are discussing how to take the technology even further. I prefer to do PowerPoint, so our next goal is to have the same features as Monday night’s meeting, plus a PowerPoint presentation at the same time. I’ll let you know how it goes.
In the meantime, I am continuing to speak in person at beekeeping meetings, both local and state, in Kentucky and elsewhere. The schedule for the next few weeks is available on this webpage. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to have me come to a meeting with your group. I do need travel expenses, but that is all. I am also interested if anyone else wants to try video conferencing, now that I’ve learned that I can speak through the internet ether as well.