Joe Blow Versus the Volcano

There has been a great deal of fall-out from the Icelandic volcano with the totally unpronounceable name, Eyjafjallajökull, and I am not just talking about molten lava. It has been fascinating to see how creative people get when faced with a situation they have no control over, a veritable act of God. If there is one positive outcome from this unprecedented situation it is universal recognition of just how useful video communication can be. Yesterday EU transport ministers were forced to use video-conferencing in order to hold emergency talks on easing the air travel crisis. The New York Times published a great article yesterday on this topic. British Telecom, Deutsche Telekom, Cisco Systems and Skype all reported big upswings in usage since the disruptions to travel began six days ago. In fact Cisco seems to have taken the lead in this area with catchy ads highlighting the benefits of video to the community, healthcare, public safety and education. Cisco even hired a movie star (Novia Scotian  Ellen Page filmed in her native land ) to reinforce the message, "Video is changing the way we live, one town at a time". 
My favorite story is about Brit, Sean Murtagh and his new Australian bride, Natalie who were stranded traveling from Australia to The UK to attend their own wedding reception. The couple were in an airport hotel in Dubai, the 80 guests in London. Although they had to eat different wedding cakes, at least they could watch each other doing it using a video webcam.

What does this mean for the future of using video as an alternative to travel? The New York Times reports that "Andrew W. Davis, a senior partner at Wainhouse Research, a company that tracks the video conferencing industry, said the disruption had prompted him to revise his growth forecast for industry sales of conferencing equipment this year to 15 percent from 10 percent."

Quoted in Women's Wear Daily, Philipp Wolff, director of communication for Hugo Boss, suggested the air traffic chaos provided an opportunity to take stock.
"Perhaps we need to take time to think about the world, and realize it doesn't always function the way we think it should, and to think about how we travel" he said, "Of course (the flight ban) is bad for the economy. But maybe it's good for nature"

You could say that every cloud has a silver lining, even one made of volcanic ash.

This posting is dedicated to Snapper, King Bob, Carolyn and Vin. May you get to where you're going soon. 


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