Sponsored by: This story appeared on Network World Fusion at http://www.nwfusion.com/columnists/2002/0923bradner.html 'Net Insider: Fixated on faces Network World, 09/23/02 What is it about people's faces that makes otherwise logical people totally ignore logic, human nature and years of experience? That could be the lead in to all sorts of topics, most of which wouldn't fit under the umbrella of what this paper thinks its readers are interested in. In this case, this is a lead into a discussion of video over the 'Net. What brought this topic to mind was a Sept. 12 story in the Circuits section of The New York Times about two new video e-mail products. Both let the user record a video snippet to be used in place of a text or still picture e-mail message. The first thought that pops to mind is "Why?" Sure there are some show-grandma-the-grandkids types of applications, but what would have caused a venture capital company to think that there was a significant enough business market for this type of technology to warrant funding these companies? The Times story called these products "video karaoke" and like with traditional karaoke, you have to have a healthy ego or a very good sense of humor to subject others to your efforts (or maybe too much alcohol or some other drug). Whatever the drug, it seems to be a long-lasting one. Companies and pundits have pushed videograms and videoconferencing as potential pots of gold seemingly forever, especially in times of economic crunch. But so far they have been consistently inaccurate. There is a market, but not all that big of one. Maybe there will be a big market when the quality gets good enough to see if the person you're talking to is rolling his eyes as you're talking, but somehow I just don't see the attraction until at least then. Even then, I'm not sure the conversation is helped by the moving pictures. My problem is that I don't see what the video adds to most of the phone conversations I have that would make me want to spend much more to get video. (This does not take into account that the advent of video would mean that I would have to clean up at least one part of one wall in my Harvard and home offices.) Good quality voice and a shared whiteboard seem to get you 90% of the way to an ideal situation - high-quality video, to me, would provide at most the other 10%. I must be missing something. Too many people, for too long, have chased this rainbow for it to just be light reflected through vendor-produced fog. But just maybe, it's someone else who doesn't get it. Disclaimer: Harvard produces both fog creators and fog cutters, none of whom to my knowledge have weighed in on this topic - so this must be my own fog light. Related Links All contents copyright 1995-2002 Network World, Inc. http://www.nwfusion.com