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The Pursuit of Conversations

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Human conversation has always been one of the most fascinating subjects to me. It is the original means and medium for mankind to think, to communicate, to connect with one another. All innovations in communication that took place in the last 5,000 years of human civilization has been an attempt to replicate the qualities of real conversation.

Writing — the ability to record and convey thoughts in a standard combination of symbols — gave permanence to the writer’s thoughts in exchange for losing expediency and interaction with the reader. Then printing, the ability to mass produce works of writing, gave writers the ability to reach a wider audience faster than ever possible before.

Until the advent of telephones, all alternatives to live conversations has been through the medium of reading and writing. Telephones and phonographs enabled for the first time, the ability for mankind to connect with one another through voice without having to be at the same place. A picture is worth a thousand words though they say, and camera technology both in still and video formats gave mankind the beginnings of the ability to replicate visual physical presence.

Broadcasting technologies elevated these new mediums in the same way printing elevated the written word. Voice broadcasting became radio, which as we postulated in an earlier exploration was the first time in human history where the concept of “real time” became an alternative to a live experience. Cameras enabled movies, and eventually enabled television, and the first generations of celebrities who represented these emerging mediums became icons of human culture across all political borders.

It goes without saying that the internet changed and enabled many additional possibilities. Messaging became more varied in format, from online forums and chatrooms to AIM to facebook and social media to now everything in smartphones. Live streaming technologies became very much an alternative to television, and has tremendously democratized the ability for individuals to broadcast, as has the increasingly seamless platforms for uploading video contents like Youtube, which in the last 5 years has created a whole spinoff industry of its own. Two way communication tools like Skype and Facetime, in conjunction with the hardware tablets and phones they run on, combine all the previous communication innovations for us to see and speak with each other, and also to show written messages and send pictures in real time on split screens during those conversation, almost replicating all the possibilities of what we can do when we’re showing someone something in a face-to-face conversation.

But that is the whole point you see. After all the innovations that’s taken place over the last 5,000 years, the ultimate standard that mankind has always been pursuing to replicate has been that of the face-to-face conversation. There is something beyond the simple sensory acknowledgements of being able to see someone and hear what they’re saying. The connection enabled by the element of physical presence itself — the only thing that has yet to be truly replicated by any technology — is the core exploration that all of us in the events industry are pursuing. As technology gets mankind closer and closer to being able to replicate the theoretical reasons that we have historically congregated, what is the remaining relevance of live human gathering as our species move forward in this digital age?

See you at the next exploration!

Harry

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