"Up in the Air": A Technology Review

February 16, 2010 at 4:02 pm | Posted in communication, Fun | 2 Comments

For my day off, I finally got to see a movie: “Up in the Air”.  Yes, I know we’re a little behind, but we don’t get out much.  Now, I’m not a film critic, but I am a technology critic.  And as manager of a team that covers enterprise unified communication technology, I can attest that “Up in the Air” is an anti-web conferencing, pro airline movie.  Specifically, it asserts:

1) that frequent travelers may be sacrificing a sense of place for superficial rewards

Despite the deeper message of sacrifice, the movie is decidedly pro travel at the surface level.  It was clearly sponsored by American Airlines, Hilton, and Hertz, who all get repeated, prime placement.  And, unlike most travel movies, the frustrations and humiliations of travel never show up here.  Look to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (or the Seinfeld episode with the rental car counter) for that side.  In this movie, George Clooney’s character never has a flight delayed, unidentified stains on his hotel room sheets, or an apathetic rental car counter employee.

2) that technology inappropriately bleeds the humanity out of communications

What mega-corporations don’t get placement in this movie?  Cisco, IBM, and Microsoft. Communications technologies take a beating in this movie.  Most phone conversations go badly.  Crude IM usage is repeatedly spoofed, as with a break up via text message. But the most scorn is heaped on web conferencing.  The movie starts with the layoff consulting firm deciding to replace in person notifications with layoffs through web conferences.  There are clearly times when web conferencing is appropriate and times when it isn’t.  This is a humorously bad choice of when to use it.

Seriously, I thought it was a fantastic movie.  I highly recommend it.  If you don’t work for the web conferencing divisions of Cisco, IBM, or Microsoft.



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  1. Agreed. Fun movie – and I wondered why George didn’t get stuck at airports due to weather or mechanical or other delays.

    I thought the example of web conferencing here was a perfect example of people being convinced that technology is the answer – without asking what the problem is.

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