Going to the University of Phoenix: UNC Edition has been an experience. It is better and worse than I thought it was going to be. Classes are shorter for the most part. My commute is now four steps instead of a twenty-minute bus ride. But I don’t see my friends unless it’s through a screen. And most of the things that make going to college special are gone.
And then there’s Zoom.
I think I live most of my life on Zoom these days. Whether it’s for class meetings, project check-ins, or a happy hour with friends, Zoom has become ever-present in my life. I sit at the desk I last used in high school and stare into my laptop camera.
It’s all kind of surreal to me. Especially considering most people had no idea what Zoom was even a few months ago. I don’t remember when I first heard about Zoom. I must have been a few years ago when I first started taking more classes in my majors.
It wasn’t until last summer I really got to understand how big a deal Zoom was. Last summer, I went down to Orlando to help work Infocomm for rAVe [Pubs]. For the uninitiated, Infocomm is one of the largest audio-visual (AV) trade shows in the world. Being a major teleconferencing service, Zoom was a big part of the show. Not only did the company itself have a large presence at the show, but dozens of other companies were showing off their products with built-in zoom integration. Most of these came in the form of Zoom rooms. Basically, products designed to make conference-room based video conferencing super easy.
At the conference, you could tell how big of a deal Zoom was becoming in the business world. It seemed everyone was hopping on the train to make sure their products could natively carry the software. The thing was, I never saw how people outside of the business world would really want to jump on to the Zoom train. Zoom was built for work, while things like Facetime were obviously made for friends or family.
Then came the pandemic. Overnight, UNC along with most other universities in the country converted to online colleges via Zoom. Zoom has exploded into the public consciousness and is being used for every kind of meeting, far outside its business to business roots. The stock has also doubled in value since the beginning of the year.
Zoom’s CEO, Eric Yuan, even stopped by one of my classes to talk about how the company has exploded onto the scene. All this is to say, hindsight is 20/20 and I should have invested in Zoom.
I’m thankful Zoom came along just in time to help get us through this period of social distancing. However, I for one can’t wait till I can live my life in person again.