But this morning, I discovered that, at least for me, any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from wallpaper.
I was using Skype to interview someone in Europe. And, as we sat thousands of miles apart and chatted face-to-face, I thought to myself what I always think when I participate in a free transatlantic videoconference: “For someone old enough to have been introduced to long-distance communication with rotary phones and evening and weekend rates, this modern world is incredible.” Meanwhile, I failed to notice that my digital recorder, which I’d placed near one of the speakers on my laptop to capture the interview, had run out of memory and was no longer recording.
And there you have it — okay, there I have it — the promise and the peril of this modern world. Or maybe just my personal-technology event horizon: the point at which my many devices have receded into the background, outside the boundaries of my perception, continuing to operate quietly, seamlessly, and flawlessly, with no attention or upkeep from me.
Fortunately, the person I was interviewing could not have been more gracious. I explained what happened, excused myself and hung up, erased some files from my recorder, and Skyped him back within about 10 minutes. But I’m curious if something like this has happened to any meeting professionals while they were on site, perhaps while a program was underway. Has a critical piece of technology functioned so effectively that you’ve stopped paying attention to it — only to have it go stealthily, silently go dark? And what did you do when that happened?