100 Days to Offload: Day 8

Keeping in touch, virtually

With my family living in South Africa, and my wife's family living in the Netherlands, we're pretty used to using video calls to stay in touch with them. With the Covid-19 pandemic a lot of people are now using videoconferencing apps to stay in touch with their families, and its deficiencies are showing. From the many privacy and security issues with Zoom, to the different ways in which video calls can make us feel drained and anxious, surely there must be better ways to do this?

I've been toying around with WebRTC, trying to figure out how difficult it would be to build peer-to-peer apps that can be used to communicate directly with other people. Maybe not even using video, but just audio and text? Maybe something like an open source Animal Crossing as a decentralised, federated social network?

Today I came across two recent blog posts from Matt Webb:

I think there are some great ideas in there on how to move on from video calls, although I'm not sure telepresence robots are the way to go. E-ink portals and low-bandwidth sensors sound pretty exciting, but the actual implementations, like Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino's Good Night Lamp have not proven super popular.

I know I want to be more connected with my family, but I don't yet know what I would like to build to make it so. What ideas to you think are worth experimenting with? Let me know on Mastodon @gendor@merveilles.town.

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