Judging backgrounds


Things are certainly different these days. I’ve never had so many meetings online as I’ve had in the past few months.

Before that, they were kind of a novelty. You’d join the Zoom, Meet, or Skype call and wave to folks and then turn the camera off. With meetings lasting sometimes for an hour or more, nobody needed to see what I was doing. I did make a mistake once and left the camera on for a CSTA meeting and the folks saw that I had a glass of wine. After the heckling, it seemed like a good idea and people joined in in the future. These days, I still meet with Computer Science teachers from the University of Northern Iowa for a beer on Friday afternoon. We start each meeting sharing what we have that particular day.

I suppose that judging how people look in their conference room was always a possibility but we’ve found over the past while that many people focus on what’s behind you. As my son would call you, Judgey McJudge.

I’ve started to pay more attention to interviews on television in particular and what people have in the background. It’s amazing the political statements, pictures, and if they’ve written a book, how it’s in the background. In the movies, we would call that product placement and it’s something that companies pay big bucks to have (who can forget Reese’s Pieces in E.T.); now it’s something that everyone does.

So, what does my typical background look like?

This was a typical picture. My wife would complain that I didn’t wear a shirt with a collar and I’d reply that the one I’m wearing was at the top of the drawer. To my left, you’ll see a tie rack with all kinds of dusty ties. Why do I keep them all? Who knows?

To my right, you’ll see a bookshelf with packed books that could easily fill two bookshelves except I’m too cheap to buy another one. Straight behind me, you’ll see a door. Where does it go? Well, when we added this room onto the house, I wanted a computer area and got it. My wife wanted a second washroom and it’s right behind me. It’s convenient but be aware that the next time we video chat, I might be in the bathtub or at the sink shaving. To my extreme left, you’ll see a patio door that gets left open in moderate temperatures. If you listen to the This Week in Ontario Edublogs podcast, you might occasionally hear wind chimes from the patio if the weather is right and the door is open.

That’s my digital home for the most part. I did try another location for one of my meetings with a CSTA friend. I went out to the patio and was sitting in a chair and it was going well … until the wind picked up. Embarrassingly, I ended up looking like I was in a snow storm with the poplar fluffies coming down and eventually the wind knocked over the umbrella right on top of me. I had to finish the call holding it in one hand. I wish I’d taken a picture.

So, that’s my story and I’ll bet you know what the call to action at the end of this post will be.

But first …

Those who are doing video online are open for judgement too. There’s a user called “Room Rater” on Twitter. The purpose of the account seems to be to capture images and rate them. (D’uh, the name gives it away)

Who could forget the images of our Prime Minister in front of his cottage, addressing the nation.

By this metric, it gets a 9/10. Not bad at all.

Going to this user and scrolling through the screen captures and commentary is fun and interesting.

So, the call to action. You can rate me if you wish but I’d be interested in your own experiences doing online video calls.

What do you have in your background? What do you have in your background that you wish you didn’t? How much planning went into setting things up? Or, anything else about video chatting that you’re interested in sharing. Please do.

OTR Links 07/14/2020


Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.