Monday, April 2, 2012

Don't Party Like It's 1999

I went to a birthday party yesterday for Jens Graikowski. He is a fine fellow I met only recently, but with whom I have shared many thoughts and views. It was a small, intimate gathering of only a few close friends of the birthday boy. I was pleased and honored to have been included among them.

Jens organized a special gift for himself. He booked a private, personal concert performed by a singer, song writer, Ryan Van Sickle. Jens was good enough to extend this marvelous gift to just a handful of his friends, inviting them to attend and enjoy the concert and the company of each other.

Jens, of course, lives on Tenerife, the largest and most populous of the Canary Islands. A few guests were from Germany, Austria and other parts Europe. Several  others came from this side of the pond, including  Canada and the US. I was able to stay for the whole party while others casually dropped in and out.

I had some delicious food, laughed a lot and really enjoyed the music. In fact, I even sang a song or two for the group. One of the other guests had his young son play a short piece piano. It was just a wonderful time.

What does this have to do with technology? Well, none of the guests and the party boy himself had to travel to attend this party. We gathered in a Google Plus hangout. A hangout, you may recall, is a video chat with up to 10 simultaneous participants.

Ryan, our guest performer, joined in from his home in Canada. But we were all able to sit and enjoy his strumming and singing, and interact with him and with each other for the entire time. Whether only five minutes or for the entire two hours, attending this party and wishing Jens a happy birthday was as easy as click, click, click.



Hangouts have been around for a while and they have been used for news shows, concerts, training sessions, interviews and a variety of other purposes. But I believe this may have been the first global, virtual birthday party hangout.

With friendships increasingly spanning geography and time zones, and with the high cost of travel, I can see this novel approach to celebrations catching on. This could be a whole new segment in the party business.

Happy birthday, Jens. Thanks for having me.

Captain Joe

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