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Webinars the new ‘in thing’ during lockdown

KARACHI: It is the age of sitting at home and working from home, which has opened the doors to new areas of discovery such as video conferences, web conferences and webinars.

In the early days of the lockdown, many events such as conferences and seminars were postponed by their organisers in the hope of coming back to them later. But when ‘later’ kept moving ahead to even later and things didn’t seem to be returning to normal, there was no other way but to opt for advanced telecommunications and embrace streaming media technology. Alas, as they say necessity is the mother of invention.

Of course, virtual events had been taking place even before social distancing and lockdowns, but not as many as they are today. First started the Learning Management System (LMS) tools for students to be able to attend online classes. But much has been written about that already.

Suddenly, you are receiving invitations to join video conferences. No one needs to go to the venue, no one drives, no fuel is wasted. No expensive hall bookings are required as well. And everyone can join in, in their pyjamas while wearing something more respectable on top because usually when you are sitting in front of your webcam or laptop only the upper part of your body is visible.

Another thing that’s changing is not to expect anyone who may be home to be able to meet you when you visit them. Because they may be video conferencing with someone, that’s why.

Even television talk shows are taking place on Google Hangouts or by using the Zoom app and the like. Suddenly people from all over the world are meeting and discussing ideas sitting face to face, even if it’s only on the computer or smartphone screen.

Is this something we should get used to? Jehan Ara, president of P@SHA’s technology incubator, says that webinars will continue for some time, even after the lockdown has been lifted. “People have become used to them and the outreach is much wider,” she said.

She continued: “People will hesitate to have in-person events for quite a while due to fear. Even when events do begin to happen, I see a blended approach moving forward with a combination of physical and online events.”

Of late, the trend is also gearing towards the airing of online concerts, especially after some of the biggest names in the world of music such as Lady Gaga and Paul McCartney recently played before their webcams with 100 other well-known artists performing in isolation from their living rooms. They came together online for a great cause, an eight-hour show to celebrate the services of healthcare workers during this global pandemic, and to raise money to go towards vaccine development and charities.

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