25 Comments

  1. Socializing online, your camera is higher than your screen, so if you are looking at someone’s eyes on the camera, it looks like you’re looking at their chest or so. If you want to look into the camera, to make it feel like you’re making eye contact with them, you look above their head.

  2. Notice the little oval-ish shape under “actually” and above “here” — that looks like the camera on a laptop.

  3. I admit I had to consult ExplainXKCD for this one. My videoconferencing experience has been limited thus far, so while I’m aware of the eye-contact problem, it’s not front-of-mind.

  4. That video habituation / overcompensation explanation is much better than anything I could come up with on my own. I was thinking more of face-to-face encounters and how masks have affected that.

    I think there is some variation of politeness norms regarding eye contact, and in my habits while you need to be able to meet someone’s eyes you certainly should not expect to conduct an iron-gripped eyeball-to-eyeball staring contest. So it is expected that you will look away, and one good additional target would be somebody’s mouth — it also helps with understanding speech — but that has been perturbed by mask-wearing. So more of the time-share goes to looking at foreheads or empty space above the person’s head.

  5. Yeah, I didn’t get that. Thanks for the explanation.

    My video setup is different. I have a desktop computer and an aftermarket webcam. Because of my desk setup, I can’t put it on the top of my monitor (there is a large flat metal support/stabilizer that joins two uprights that support a shelf on the top of the desk). I have several magnetic stationery holders (for pens and other things) stuck to that support and the cam is in one of them. It is exactly at the height of my eyes. If I look into it, the folks on my screen become peripheral.

  6. Well, I didn’t get it but that makes sense….

    My that was… well…. the need to make snap judgements about people based on the message on their baseball caps (c’mon, you know what I’m talking about… nudge, nudge, wink, wink…)

    But I was wrong.

  7. woozy, if it’s the kind of person who has that on their cap, they’re already socializing. And they already have a had. And they know the “pandemic” is false reporting.

  8. I don’t really have much of an expectation that people be looking directly at me for online meeting.

    I mostly use video calls for interviewing people, and half the time I’m reading code that they’re writing on a (virtual) whiteboard. The whiteboard goes on a different screen than their video, so from their perspective, half the time I’m staring off to the side. It’s not really ideal, but I haven’t found a convenient way to put everything on the same screen.

  9. A lot of my calls are just voice. I was WFH in the Before and most calls were with people at work and always just voice, including the weekly staff meeting. Back then most calls with other people were also voice. Now I have a lot more are video and I think much of that is from people who used to do a lot of face to face meetings. They feel they have to see people. I’ve also heard stories that lead me to think some bosses do it as a power thing to monitor employees, make sure everyone is paying attention etc.

  10. Most of my calls are voice. The only reason I got the webcam was for conducting interviews. I feel like when you’re being interviewed, it’s nicer to see the interviewer. I never liked being the interviewee on a phone interview, and not having the feedback of the interviewer nodding along, frowning to let me know I should clarify something, etc. . .

  11. “woozy, if it’s the kind of person who has that on their cap, they’re already socializing. And they already have a had. And they know the “pandemic” is false reporting.”

    Well, I was thinking more that it be the other people thinking “great…. I have to socialize with this person… I’d better see what he has on his hat to see what type of person they are..” and then they’d see “hey, my eyes are down here”

    I guess that divides the world into three types. The that type of person. The other type that want to make quick judgements by using the hat gauge. And then a third type that are not that type but don’t appreciate the snap judgement of the other type.

    …. anyway as this has nothing to do with that maybe we don’t have to think so hard….

    But it does show just what a symbol a baseball cap in and of itself that after four years I can’t even see a baseball cap without a gut reaction.

  12. As I’m no longer a productive member of society, I don’t do any work calls. No webcam. If I needed something for like a family Zoom (talked about early on, never happened) I’d use the iPad.

  13. My family has been doing weekly (approximately) video calls for…8-9 years, since my parents spent a year teaching in Macedonia (and we’d been doing it intermittently before, as we were spread across the globe). Having video calls with lots of other people (various forms of socializing, not work) has been a little odd, but video calls themselves are old hat (not baseball cap…).

    That said, I had no idea what was going on here. I’ve never particularly tried to make/maintain eye contact with anyone I was videoing with – I’m usually looking at whoever’s speaking, but looking at them from my POV. Which can be either looking (appearing to look) down (if they’re on my main screen) or looking over their heads (if they’re on my secondary screen). I very rarely have a one-on-one via video; it’s usually either watching a speaker, who isn’t looking at me, or talking to a group in multiple boxes.

  14. Hopefully someone will develop a camera that adjusts for this. Whether moving it down or using some kind of eye tracking. I’ve had a hard time with this. Looking at the person talking and also being mindful of the visual on their end has often caused me to lose the nuance of what they are saying.

  15. I should mention that because of this limitation, I almost always disable video in and out.

  16. “Hopefully someone will develop a camera that adjusts for this. ”

    Hey, they don’t even bother to make a computer camera that adjusts to lighting why would they make one that adjusts for this.

    On of the more amusing/frustrating aspect of my first family zoom a year ago was that I felt my image was overexposed. I hadn’t used my laptop camera at all before so I tried fumbling for the video settings on zoom and then the control panel settings for the camera and just couldn’t find the exposure adjustment settings. “Hold on a minute” I said, “I can’t figure out how to adjust the lighting”. “I know how to do that,” said my older sister “I’ve do a lot of filming and video conferencing” (Which is true; she’s a media studies professor) “Do you want to know how?” “Yes,” I said “I just can’t seem to find the settings”. “What you do” she said “is position your laptop so it is facing away from the windows”. “Fine, but how do I set the camera aperture?” “By facing the camera away, from the window. That way less light gets in,” she said very seriously. “Yeah, but…” “Trust me, I’ve had a lot of experience in this.”

    There is a lot of sibling rivalry in my family. I fumed about this to my signother for weeks afterwards. “Did she really think I didn’t know how light works? Does she actually not know that hand-held cameras have apertures. Our mother’s a photographer for gosh sake; you’d think it’d brush off. And she was so sure in her response. Does she really….” “woozy, your family’s appalling. Accept it and go to bed.”

  17. I was using Zoom as our default for work calls in the Before. I’ve used a lot of others: Microsoft Teams, Blue Jeans, Chime, whatever Google’s is called this week, and some I’m forgetting because I’ve used them so rarely. Zoom is probably the least polished, but it just chugs along. Like an ’88 Toyota Corolla.

    It’s very interesting to watch some people try to use Zoom. Zoom exploded in popularity during the pandemic because the basic account is free to use and it is as easy to use as something like this can be. And yet there are people who can mess it up.

    The people I’m on calls with for work are all experienced tech users. But in other groups I get into, social things, or clubs, totally different. So many people who are terrified of technology and immediately come at it from a position of “Oh, I’ll never be able to do this!” I used to work with a woman like that at an insurance company. She’d been working there for 30 years and never embraced technology. Sat next to her. Nice lady, very fearful that she would “break something.” When she wasn’t sure what to do, she’d ask me. I could see her screen from where I sat and I’d say stuff like “Have you tried clicking that button there?”
    “No.”
    “Try it.”
    click Popup window saying something and giving choice to proceed or cancel
    “Oh! Oh! It says (reads window contents). What do I do?”
    “Is that what you want to do?”
    “Yes”
    “Then click “yes”.”
    If she said “no”
    “Then click cancel.”
    And so on. I kept trying to tell her that nothing was going to break because of anything she did, nothing would explode or catch fire and even if she did break her computer, it just meant she didn’t have to work until some IT guy came and fixed it.

    I haven’t seen her in years, but her spirit lives on in Zoom meetings the world over.

  18. I don’t have a camera, microphone or speakers on my desktop computer and only have them on my laptop because they come on same automatically.

    My embroidery chapter moved to Zoom meetings so I use my laptop for same on my desk in our office. I also have my desktop turned on (sits to the right of my desk) for looking up things during the meetings (such as when someone suggest doing a class from our national group I can look up what classes are available or for when I forget to write up the treasurer’s report. (For the two board meetings and one member meeting from our reenactment unit I go down to the kitchen to sign in so Robert and I do not have two computers make noise at the same time – he is on his.)

    Some might remember that my laptop had a problem and had to be sent in for service. I was going to use one of my old XP laptops, but could not figure out to how to turn on one of the 3 functions mentioned. I went to use Robert’s desktop instead (he had offered it – he put all 3 functions in his – but could not sign into my email on his – my password not accepted, so I turned on my desktop to find what the password on it. By the time I had all of them running and still was not signed into my email – the meeting was over!

    As much as I do not like this laptop – I was glad to get it back and I can’t wait to go to meetings in person again.

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