Friday, December 2, 2011

I'm a Visual Person!

I'm a huge technophile. I love new gadgets and scientific breakthroughs. I love knowing how things work.

Yesterday, I did a phone interview via skype for a book podcast. Let's talk about the technology behind that for a second.

A tiny magnet connected to vibration sensitive membrane takes my voice and converts it into an electric signal. This signal travels down cat5 cables to my modem. There it is converted into another electric signal and sent down metal cables for miles. Then it's converted into light and sent through hundreds of miles of glass threads. My voice then gets converted back into electric signals and makes its way to the other computer where another magnet, connected to a cone and another membrane, spits out my voice as sound once more...only slightly more nasal and weird.

If one of us uses satellite for our internet provider, then in the middle of that my voice is converted into invisible waves that travel into space. SPACE! My voice is an astronaut for a fraction of a second. How cool is this technology?

Despite how cool I think it is...it does not agree with me and my visual brain.

A while back I met with a book club at a high school. I was super nervous and even more sweaty, but I managed to talk intelligibly for almost an hour about my book, publishing, and writing. But, stick me in a room by myself and have me talk to my computer like it's a person and I devolve into a stuttering idiot.

At the book club:


On Skype:




I have the same problem with other audible technology. I am horrible on the phone and I apologize to anyone who has had to talk to me on the phone. My brain doesn't think the conversation is real and I end up sounding disinterested, clipped, and awkward. If something more real is going on, like driving, tv, or another live person in front of me, I'm even worse.

I avoid drive thrus for this reason too. They frustrate me. I want to look people in the eye and order my food or deposit my check. There is something lost when they can't see me either.

Inside, a cashier can see the look of bewilderment in my face as I contemplate the menu and give me more time to think.



Outside, I am berated.



Where would I have gone?



Inside, I can be clear and see understanding in the cashier's eyes.



Outside, I am yelling at some electronic billboard that has someone elses' order on it.






And I end up with onions, fries, a diet soda I didn't want, and a vanilla shake.

Luckily, when it comes to the interview, they are letting me rerecord it today. Here's hoping I can manage not to sound like a moron.

9 comments:

Brent Wescott said...

I don't relish interviews of any kind, let alone talking out loud to anyone about anything, so putting one on the internet so all can see it forever and forever would make me curl up and vomit. You're a brave soul.

Brent Wescott said...

I wasn't finished. I wanted to say that I think the drive thru experience has come a long way since it's inception when you could barely hear in either direction and your order would be wrong no matter what every time. This is a technological issue that has only benefited the world. Of course, no technology can fix the dunderhead taking your order not to forget your ranch dressing. And I've apparently thought about this way too much. All done now.

Michael Offutt, Expert Critic said...

Hmmm. I will look for you on skype. I'm on there quite often and if you are on you should add me so that we can send messages back and forth. That could be fun.

Martin Willoughby said...

Life should come with pause and rewind buttons.

Kerry said...

I was going to say "I like onions too!" but realized in the nick of time that you just said "no onions." But it kind of proves your point here, which has something to do with awkward communication...so I'll go ahead and say it: I like onions too!

Bryan M. White said...

Thunk!

I know exactly what you mean. If I try to record a video, something happens the minute I hit the silver button. I start gibbering like an idiot, and my voice cracks like when I was 15.

And I'm not crazy about drive-thrus either. It's funny, sometimes I'll run up to McDonald's and there'll be a line of cars wrapping around the building, and then you go inside and there's no one there and your in and out in 2 seconds. It's like, doesn't that defeat the purpose of the drive-thru if your sitting in a huge line running out your gas; especially if you're trying to save time on your way to work? Some people don't really give much thought to what they're doing. Of course, that has nothing to do with your point, but hey...

Candice said...

I'm not so much with the verbal communication either. Just leaving a voicemail is a nightmare for me. I end up rambling on and on and ON about crap that the person doesn't need to know at all, much less in the context of the conversation I need to have with them. Ugh. So annoying. I definitely feel your pain.

Alyson said...

I can totally relate to this. I hate hate hate talking on the phone. Even to my best friends. I just like being able to see people when I talk to them. I've never tried Skype though so I'm not sure if it would be the same thing.

Charlie Pulsipher said...

@Brent- I don't feel brave...not one bit.

@Brent- It has come a long way, but I still would rather look someone in the eyes and order my food or deposit my check. Feels more right to me. You can also do more to make sure the dunderhead gets things right.

@Michael- Sure thing. I'm not on there much. You're more likely to find me on facebook and occasionally on twitter.

@Martin- Except, in my case, it would just let me relive my embarrassment over and over again...

@Kerry- I like grilled onions, but raw onions burn my mouth and do very very bad things internally. Even grilled onions do some damage. I've learned to use leeks when I cook. That discovery may have saved my marriage. Is that TMI? Awkward communication at it's finest.

@Bryan- That has tons to do with my point. I do the same thing at the bank. Most of the time I'm in and out while the slubs are in their cars yelling out their windows. Though pneumatic tubes are stinking cool.

@Candice- I know! And making your own voicemail message is one of the worst experiences ever!

@Alyson- Skype with video isn't too bad, but without it...eeeewwww! Not good at all, worse than a phone call.

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