Convergence, what have you done for me lately?
A lot, evidently, but quantifying it is the hard part. And from what I hear on the AV streets, even with all this fancy new IP-based everything, those IT people are still a challenge to contend with on the client side.
So let’s get together and talk about it. Or “tawk” about it, in the local parlance, at the SYMCO Regional Technology Showcases in Boston, MA, and New York, NY, on October 14 and 16, respectively. But first, let's catch up with one of the panelists who will be joining me on the User Panel Discussion in Boston.
Meet Jesse Anderson, CTS-D, AudioVisual Services Director, Information Technology Services, College of Holy Cross:
Some technologists are born, others are made. When did you know you were a tech-head?
I think I've always been that way. I was the kid who was always taking things apart and putting them back together. I was part of the AV Club in high school, and my school's bench tech recognized this and taught me to help him service the equipment.
What was the most surprising u-turn or detour you've seen occur in the technology landscape so far in your career?
One of my early jobs was designing exhibits in a museum, and I can remember telling our director that I couldn't foresee a time when we'd be able to play back production-quality video on a computer (I was programming a controller for a LaserDisc player at the time). Ten or twelve years later she reminded me of this as I was editing video on my Mac. Since I now rely on my network for transport of digital video and audio, I guess I've learned not to make such broad statements about technology.
What is most misunderstood about IT?
That it doesn't always scale well. Many of the devices made for the consumer market work extremely well in your living room, but fail miserably on an enterprise-class network. Some devices are too "chatty," some want to advertise themselves to everyone on the network, and many assume that they can grab any WiFi channel they want at any time. While this usually works without a problem in someone's house with a dozen or so devices on the network, on a network with thousands of devices things tend to break. Since the user still wants the same experience they can have at home, we need to find creative ways of supporting these devices.
Why is FaceTime so much easier than videoconferencing? How do you explain that to users?
Facetime has been around for less than five years, and was purpose-built to connect iOS devices to iOS devices. Some of the protocols used for videoconferencing have been around for close to twenty years, and have been updated time and again by the standards body. In addition, vendors typically "extend" the protocol to allow their equipment to do things beyond sharing a camera and microphone at each end. The difference between the two is kind of like buying a toaster — I can get a simple one with a "lighter-darker" knob and a lever, or I can get one with buttons and settings for bagels, frozen pizza, toaster pastries, or toast. Both might make good toast, but one is much easier to use.
What's the most common request you get from your users?
"I want to connect my mobile device in the classroom."
Free association: What do you think of when you hear "AV"?
AV has become ubiquitous. My phone is an audio player, video player, web browser, video teleconference endpoint, presentation viewer, audio recorder, still camera, and video camera. Our users now expect all their media to be with them all of the time, and to be able to send it to any device whenever they want. Our job is to catch up with them.