How to make virtual meetings better than in-person

I just read this article on how to use Google docs to run meetings that are even more productive than in person:

This is very similar to the process we followed for the “No Going Back to Normal” breakout during the summit (though I independently discovered it).

Anyways, thought it was a cool example of not just digital transfer/translation, but transformation. This kind of interaction isn’t as possible in-person and it enables more people (introverts and extroverts) to participate and voice their ideas. Everyone benefits in the end.

This is shifting the tone of the thread a bit but I thought this article fit here. It’s about how libraries are creating cozy and authentic digital spaces using pre-set (but adjustable) images, music, ambient sounds, etc. It also notes that they see different online platforms as playing to different “tones” of online environments; one might promote study better, one socializing, one artistry, etc etc.

@chrislim I think we should talk (and ask our community) about experimenting with some for our TheoTech/the Discourse. I know you have been looking into Facebook rooms and all-- we should follow up and get some input!

Anyone else have insight/ideas/questions?

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I just read this gorgeous blog from Teresa Berger, a professor of liturgy at Yale. First, it’s just very warm and a lovely blend of scholarly insight and compassion if you want some encouragement! But also, she brings up this really neat point that she’s able to worship in ways at home that she might have been less comfortable with in a shared physical space. She gives the example, “During the livestream Masses, I’ve gotten used to dancing during the Gloria.”

How might we shift some of our focus from mimicking physical experiences in a digital medium to partnering with the unique opportunities of more private spaces? How do we encourage believers to use digital resources as supplements to open up expressions they might not have used before?

Here’s the article:

Wow this is a really fascinating article!

For the past couple of years, I have been thinking more deeply about what theologically can be called deep incarnation. This is the idea that God, in taking on human flesh, takes on not only human beings but everything created. One snappy way of thinking about this is that human beings contain stardust, a quarter of our genetic material is shared with trees, and we are hosts to a gazillion microbes. So when God becomes human, that must also mean that God becomes stardust and the genetic material of trees and microbes. God is not only human flesh like me or you but embraces all created reality from the stardust to the microbes. I have found that really earthshaking.

I also liked how quickly she affirmed that digital is still embodied:

Is virtual worship still embodied? Yes, of course it is. Although some may argue that worship in digital spaces or digitally mediated liturgical practices are bad because they are disembodied, I think that’s too glib an argument. In fact, none of us can enter a digital social space without bodies. To be in a digital conversation with you right now, I need my eyes. I need my fingers to log in to Zoom, the space in which we’ve chosen to meet. There is no digital worship without bodies being present and involved.

I think a lot of digital interfaces right now are highly constrained–and for good reason, they are being stretched to serve purposes outside of their original design. The ideas around spatial software might point us in the direction of creating experiences that let people have more “virtual embodiment” in a digital space.

But in light of what she said about bodies are present on Zoom, I wonder if the good old Xbox Kinect-style interfaces are another aspect of embodiment that we’re missing–the way we can use our bodies to interact in a digital space, not just with touching a screen or pointing and clicking…