What is Lost During Online Meetings?

Norm Friesen, Professor of Educational Technology at Boise State University reports on his research into the differences in how we experience web-based versus face-to-face (F2F) meetings. The main finding are

  • Lack of eye contact
  • Looking askance
  • Feeling watched
  • Squelching / talking over others

Each of these factors results from limitations imposed by communications technologies. We manage to work with or around them but they can contribute to a sense of web-based meetings being somehow not-quite-right or not as comfortable as F2F interactions.

Friesen sees no way current technologies can fully remediate virtual meetings’ “lack the ‘mutual enfolding’ of the senses that, as Merleau-Ponty knew, comes with meeting in the flesh.”

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