Environ. Horticulture, Pears, Cherries, and Viticulture
University of California
Environ. Horticulture, Pears, Cherries, and Viticulture

Seinfeld on Remote Comedy

A number of you may have heard by now about the op ed by Jerry Seinfeld in the New York Times (the "newspaper of record" as it were) as a response to an article saying how NYC will never come back post Covid.  He loves New York, and makes a serious case on how it will always rebound.  It's a good read, and nestled within is an interesting point concerning the efficacy of Zoom and remote meetings - again this is from a really successful professional performer, so worth the moment to read and consider:

"There's some other stupid thing in the article about “bandwidth” and how New York is over because everybody will “remote everything.” Guess what: Everyone hates to do this. Everyone. Hates.

You know why? There's no energy.

Energy, attitude and personality cannot be “remoted” through even the best fiber optic lines. That's the whole reason many of us moved to New York in the first place.

You ever wonder why Silicon Valley even exists? I have always wondered, why do these people all live and work in that location? They have all this insane technology; why don't they all just spread out wherever they want to be and connect with their devices? Because it doesn't work, that's why.

Real, live, inspiring human energy exists when we coagulate together in crazy places like New York City. Feeling sorry for yourself because you can't go to the theater for a while is not the essential element of character that made New York the brilliant diamond of activity it will one day be again."

I'm with Jerry here.  I've been a part of some very well run Zoom extension meetings, with plenty of participation, but it's not the same. Couldn't put my finger on it until just now - these meetings lack ENERGY.  The energy of the crowd, the energy of all of us together, the energy of sharing some really exciting work to our avant garde berry industry, ever hungry for high quality science.

So you know where I am going, I am thinking through how I am going to handle the big berry meeting I run every year together with Joy Jacobs of the Strawberry Commission.  At 300 + people in attendance, it is not going to be in person this year, vaccine or no vaccine, so I've got to figure something else out because man do we have a lot of data - in particular on Fusarium. A straight six hours of Zoom it will not be, it needs to have some pizzazz, some energy, something that is interesting and fun to be a part of.




Posted on Wednesday, August 26, 2020 at 8:17 AM


Hi Mark,  
I always enjoy reading your blogs. You raise some interesting questions and challenges in this latest one that got me thinking.  
Here are a few ideas that might help to get some of that energy into the meeting your planning  
1. Have the presentations recorded in advance. That way they can be shorter and more focused, and there won't be many technical glitches.  
2. Encourage meeting participants to watch the presentations in advance of the meeting so that they can think about them, re-watch as needed, think of good questions, etc. (Perhaps some incentive could help).  
3. Have the "meeting" focus on discussion/Q&A of what was shown in the pre-recorded presentations. This could make the meeting time shorter.  
Will this "work"? I'm hopeful. I think it will get people more engaged and that will add energy to the meeting. Hopefully this will make ideas "stick" and encourage information sharing that is meaningful and memorable. I use a method similar to this in all my presentations at professional science conferences (i.e., I show a premade video with my content that takes half the 'presentation' time, and then we have the remaining half of the time for discussion/Q&A; It works well). Just a few thoughts to consider.  
take care and stay well.  

Posted by Eric Brennan on August 27, 2020 at 6:33 AM

I'm loving this Zoom stuff. For work I'd say keep it 90/10 Zoom vs in-person. If you can keep your meetings Zoom after all this flu stuff I would appreciate it. I am in Oxnard and can't make your meetings up there but I can "attend" without being there.

Posted by Will on August 27, 2020 at 8:14 AM

Thanks Will for your input, really. One of the reasons for this post was to share the comment by a pro concerning in person entertainment/presentations, but the other was to get input from you, my audience.  
The Zoom deal for sure has opened these meetings to a much wider audience, as well as making it more convenient for us presenters! Was just on Surendra's (very well attended) meeting a few weeks ago, and would not have been to be a part of that had I had to travel all the way there.

Posted by Mark Bolda on August 28, 2020 at 10:50 AM

Hi Eric,  
I like your ideas, and they are something around where I was thinking of going. I from time to time listen to a podcast called Virology Today and it's a bunch of scientists discussing virus topics once a week for a couple of hours. The tone is light and listening fun. No hardcore data, graphs or anything like that. But, very usable information for the lay person.  
Sort of like to go in the same direction with the change on the meeting. In strawberry, we've got a ton of experts that would be good to listen to, especially if well facilitated with good questions oriented towards to the practicioner in the field - the grower, PCA, farm manager and scientist.  
You've got a good idea to facilitate this by distributing some material previous, let people think it over and then have an open session sometime later.  
I might give you a call, seems we can do things with the Zoom (see previous comment too), that you can't in person, so we may as well take advantage.

Reply by Mark Bolda on August 28, 2020 at 11:03 AM

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