Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The world is getting smaller

Maybe you didn't notice but I did.  It happened yesterday at about 2:00 PM Pacific time.  

Back in the olden days if you wanted to get a group of people together for a chat you could have a conference call on something called a "telephone".  You've probably seen them - just imagine an iPhone that only makes voice calls - only MUCH bigger......and sometimes connected to a cord.

Every year between June and September myself and other staff members of the US Mountain Running Team prepare for the World Mountain Running Championships using these telephone devices and also email and Facebook.  These's also been Skype video chats but like all the aforementioned communication methods it's one-to-one (or asymmetric).

Team athletes conduct a "hangout" back in 2006

We call this a mountain running "team" but we only see each other all together in the same place once or maybe twice a year.  At the world championships we gather primarily to race but also get to hangout in hotel rooms catching up on a years worth of happenings.  

In an effort to builder a stronger sense of team and to promote the athletes as they prepare for the World Mountain Running Championships we tried out a new-fangled technology.......and that's when the world changed.

Dave Dunham & Nancy Hobbs emailing a press release way back in 2006 (Bursa, Turkey)

Yesterday the US Mountain Running Team held its first ever press conference broadcast live on YouTube.  Using Google's Hangouts multi-person free video conference we were able to have 3 staff members 6 athletes and 1 reporter all in the same virtual place at the same time to talk about the teams preparations for the world championships.  

The small world part?  Consider this; we had people on the hangout from Germany, Washington state, California, Colorado, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Oregon.  Aside from some users with low bandwidth it was a very high quality video conference experience.  The video quality was good and the audio clean with almost no delay......across thousands of miles!  Gosh the Internets is cool.

Thank you Paul Kirsch for helping pull the event together.  Our athletes who joined included Tommy Manning, Sage Canaday, Joe Gray, Glenn Randall, Stevie Kremer, Morgan Arritola and staff member Ellen Miller.  Conducting the Q&A we had Mt. Washington Road Race veteren Jeff Dengate who works for Runners World magazine.  

You can watch a replay of the press conference on YouTube here:

Follow the team at this year's world championships in Ponte di Legno, Italy on September 2.