Zoom Rooms, Today’s Third Place
In my late teens, I fell in love with coffee shops. This affinity guided me through my early 20’s — planting a dream to start a roasting company and determined what jobs and opportunities I pursued for several years. Ultimately, this path lead to local food production and established a foundation for my farming passions.
At first, though, it wasn’t about coffee. It was about the magic that happens in those common places. It’s where insurance companies, stock exchange, the French and American Revolutions were born.
Innovations and collaborations occur when edges overlap. In an office full of architects, the sum of their creativity will be from an architect’s perspective. But an open space, filled with people from all different perspectives, with no pressure or agenda, spurred on by caffeine and alcohol, is a cauldron for all sorts of creativity.
So here we are, March of 2020, these places are closed in American cities. A pandemic has us all inside. No pubs, cafes, or restaurants. Is this the end of progress and culture? The sooner this ends, the better, but in the meantime there will be some interesting placeholders.
Last night, I received an email. A tech product I have been an enthusiastic fan of for years sent out an email that they were closing shop. Shortly after, I noticed a tweet about it, and realized I followed one of the founders at some point. Right after came a link to a Zoom meeting. I said why not? and clicked through.
It was an amazing experience. He actually recognized me by my initials. The video conference quickly became a gathering of start up designers and a few other random people from Twitter. I got to hear a song someone wrote about someone losing their soul working for Airbnb. I met my first Wu Flu case, and learned just how many people on the coasts are being quarantined. If I didn’t have to go to sleep and stuck around longer, we may have realized some mutual friends. Maybe I missed the next big thing in the making?