Do you have a service, program or venue that gets people together? How about including those from out of town or far away?
Recently I heard part of an interview on National Radio Afternoons about a funeral home in Hamilton who live stream funerals over the Internet if the family request it. Participants are invited by an email that contains a link to view the broadcast.
Small, discreet cameras placed around the chapel record the service. Friends and family who are unable to make it to the chapel participate by watching from home.
Alternatively, participants join in through Skype video. They may deliver a eulogy or simply say a few words that those present in the chapel can see and hear.
Virtual presence is easy these days
This struck me as a brilliant idea, and one that could easily be applied to weddings, christenings, or in fact almost any gathering.
A quick glance at one popular New Zealand store showed that you can buy a huge 60 inch TV for $4000. That’s not really a lot of money in the scheme of things. Of course web cams and the broadband Internet connection would also have a cost attached.
It’s not long ago that doing something like this would have cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. The technology that allows this is now so popular and inexpensive that it becomes readily feasible.
You may not need large screens and expensive audio equipment either if you have only small gatherings.
Is this something to consider?
Think for a few minutes about how your organisation might be able to reach out to a wider group of people. Think about people who are housebound for example. Is there some way you could use this kind of technology to reach out to and engage them with your activities?
Might you be able to help families connect with their members overseas? Does this allow you to redefine who your community is?
Community can be worldwide
With this kind of technology the nature of the community can change. We are moving far beyond the time when a community is bound by geography.
Of course the telegraph and the telephone, mail and email have already blurred those boundaries. Television has brought one-way communication, bringing the distant into our homes.
But web cams and live streaming, and Skype video calls, are or can be can be interactive.
Other free or low cost (NZ$1.30) software such as Apple’s FaceTime is simple to use and allows people with iPads or Macs to make video calls too. The call ‘rings’ on the device even if the software isn’t actually running.
The costs of video calling are low. Are you making the most of these new possibilities?
Written by Miraz Jordan for, and reproduced from CommunityNet Aotearoa Panui, June 2011. This article has been modified for publication here.