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Conferencing News Blog

Telepresence Off the Shelf - Literally

Readers of this blog know we think end-users will always call videoconferencing "videoconferencing" because that's what it still is even if its image and sound quality improve. Cisco, however, promotes that their borrowed and twisted term telepresence "is not videoconferencing" and disses videoconferencing.

But what do you call telepresence in everyday language then? We know what Canadiens call it. And here's what the Wall Street Journal calls it... "Cisco's Homegrown Experiment" was the title of an article in the Wall Street Journal on January 23rd, and we had a little chuckle over it. The author referred to Cisco's "Telepresence high-end video-conferencing system" to describe the Cisco product. She sells sea shells and telepresence high-end video-conferencing systems by the seashore.

An end-user IT executive about to purchase the Cisco Telepresence high-end video-conferencing system, George Mattingly, at Wachovia Corp. says in a mixed-media-metaphor that telepresence will be "like going from listening to the radio to watching high definition television." Huh? Sorry, George. Telepresence will be like going from regular television to high definition television. And it's still television.

The kicker in the article was the revelation that Cisco engineers initially designed their telepresence high-end video-conferencing system and "shopped around for parts at their local Home Depot and Fry's Electronics stores. They welded parts together in Cisco's parking lot." Given, as the WSJ states, "the cost of the system, including network upgrades, can exceed $600,000" we say: Run, don't walk, to a Home Depot or Fry's Electronics and build your own! You can do it. They can help.