I’ve just got back after a couple of days in Manchester’s shadow, training people who will be responsible for the maintenance of the main system I’ll be leaving behind at the end of the month. I think I may have fried their brains somewhat due to the accelerated knowledge transfer process but hopefully they’ll recover 😉
Travelling was an absolute nightmare though. It’s the first time I’ve flown since the ‘great liquid bomb scare’ a couple of months ago and security, whilst reduced since that incident, is still crazy. Normally for a short trip I’d take just hand luggage (in fact, I’ve become known within the semi-nomadic band of IT people I work with of being able to survive on the smallest possible amount of gear whilst away), but now since there is the very real possibility that my toothpaste might be a volatile material (“Look out! The fresh stripe could go off at any moment!!!") I had to check my small rucksack all the way through the baggage system, with the inevitable delays that entails.
On the way back, I also spent an hour in the checkin queue despite it being a relatively tiny flight back to the little rock I live on and another 30 minutes in the queue for security since Manchester was absolutely heaving with people, all clearly at different levels on the irritation scale.
So, a combination of red-eye flights, airport boredom and a fairly busy couple of days left me exhausted when I got home late last night, to the extent I couldn’t even face blogging about it until today. I dread to think how many forum posts I have to catch up on later. 😕
It did leave me wondering though - air traffic has been steadily increasing since the 60’s, but what future does it now have? It’s now incredibly inconvenient, and there are increasing calls on the airlines to start paying for the amount of carbon they’re belching into the atmosphere. A lot of this is because of the low-fare airlines shuttling the unwashed to Lanzarote in ever cheaper deals, but business travel is skyrocketing too. Why is this, when it’s getting ever more inconvenient? Technology is always improving our ability to communicate remotely, but all we seem to be doing is taking more flights, perhaps many of them to actually sell these technologies to others on the premise that they won’t have to travel so much if they buy them, ironically.
No matter how good the remote communication system, be it audio visual, even holographic, there still really isn’t a replacement for meeting someone face to face. It’s nothing to do with what gets said during the meat of a meeting - that can certainly be replaced by remote communication. But what you lose is the out-of-band communication; getting coffee, having some lunch, chatting whilst the projector gets set up, etc. It’s the informal communication on the edges of the formal that really builds the relationships, and it’s impossible for business to operate well without that. So are we doomed to keep shuttling ourselves around on ever more frustrating air carriers for the forseeable future despite all the technological improvements? Looks like it - and I’m betting the only technology that will ever change that will be teleportation, not anything the communication companies can sell you.