TMCnet ran a “Web Conferencing Featured Article” written by David Sims. I put their designator in quotes because this is rather obviously a sponsored piece touting VIA3 web conferencing. Okay, I can accept that.
What I can’t accept is the allegedly factual central theme of the article. It is not about the theoretical possibility of joining web conferences from airplanes, it states it as a normal mode of business currently being employed by a VIA3 employee. To wit:
“Teresa is one of the progressive information workers who takes advantage of airline Wi-Fi and Web Conferencing to deliver presentations and conduct sales meetings” from in flight airplanes.
It goes on to say later:
“The only disadvantage to collaborating a mile high is the background, which startles some people, Lockard says. “They suddenly realize they are seeing the roof of an airline cabin behind me, and it distracts them for a few minutes.”
I will state up front that I just read the article and I have not contacted Mr. Sims, Ms. Lockard, or VIA3. Still, I don’t believe a word of it. Not a single word.
Ms. Lockard supposedly is not just joining web meetings from seat 4A, she is actually conducting them and giving presentations? Sales meetings? And using a webcam to show herself to her audience? Wow.
So she feels perfectly comfortable conducting an entire meeting in a loud enough voice to be heard by her audience while surrounded by complete strangers (including potential competitors or other prospects) in a cramped environment. And she manages to balance her laptop webcam on her tray table or knees, getting herself framed and in focus. And the airline internet connection speed is fast enough and reliable enough to broadcast a streaming video image along with audio.
She also has no problem interrupting her meeting for announcements from the flight deck, drink orders from the flight attendants, crying babies, and angry shushing noises from her fellow passengers. She doesn’t mind broadcasting the funny faces or middle fingers from the exasperated people sitting behind her.
Bullpucky. Didn’t happen. Won’t happen. Better not happen while she’s sitting in front of me, because her web conference is going to turn very “interesting” with my help. That camera image is going to look awfully jerky as she gets kicked by my knees in the back of her chair every two and a half seconds.
And to top it off, the article ends with this astonishing quote:
Hodges addressed some of the issues surrounding mile-high Web conferencing, noting that one inherent danger to using most Web conferencing software with open airplane Wi-Fi is “the huge lack of security. For proprietary information, documentation, and discussions, fliers wanting to conference should use only VIA3, which is 128-bit AES level secure from the ground up."
Riiiiigghht… The biggest security concern about sharing proprietary information, documents, and discussions on an airliner is the data encryption level. EVERYONE AROUND YOU CAN HEAR YOU! HALF OF THEM CAN SEE YOUR SCREEN!
Look, I like web conferencing. I use web conferencing. It benefits my business to promote web conferencing. But this kind of fiction parading as fact does a disservice to everyone. It’s nonsense, it’s impractical, and it can only give web conferencing a bad name. We don’t need to sell snake oil. Web conferencing works. Let’s promote it for appropriate business uses. And let’s not encourage more incivility and inconsideration in the air. I think we get quite enough of that already.