The York Factory Express by ZOOM

The Writer's Desk

I am setting up ZOOM: Everyone else is doing it, so why not me?

I have talks set up at various locations in Washington State and in Alberta and beyond, but of course they have all been cancelled or postponed because of Covid-19. Therefore, I will be doing talks on ZOOM, where everyone can follow along. 

I will schedule recurring meetings, as I will be hosting a series or set of talks — likely beginning at Fort Vancouver and heading East to Hudson Bay! What that means to you is that when you join one meeting, you will be registered for all, and invited to all.

I will be recording the talks. What that means for you is that you don’t have to attend the meeting at the time it is put on, but can view it at a later date as long as you are registered for the meeting or talk. How much later, I do not yet know. They will all be uploaded to *The Cloud* and available there.

Do you have to download ZOOM to attend the meetings? No, you don’t. Participants do not have to have a ZOOM account to take part in the meetings or talks. They will get a link via email, however, which they click to have access to the meeting. And that is why you have to register.

Do you have to dress up to attend the talk? No. In fact, you don’t even have to turn on the video. You will be able to see me and hear me, but no one else who is attending the talk will be able to see you or your background, if you don’t want them to. In this way you can attend the live talk but still keep your privacy. (You will be able to see my own place, however, which is a mess of papers: I will have to tidy my house before I post each talk.)

How do you register? I suggest you send me your email address through my contact sheet, and I will add you to my email list. I will, for the first while at least, be limited to 100 participants, but I think it is easy enough to raise the number allowed to watch when, and if, there are more than 100 interested participants. 

Yes, I will allow questions, likely at the end of the program. If I am unable to answer a question, I will email the attendee who asked the question with the answer later. I will also likely enable Chat, unless I find it too distracting — after all, I have no available assistant at the moment.

I have a few suggestions to make: If you have background noise and are not actually the speaker in, say, question period, you should mute your microphone. I think you do that on your screen, at the bottom? Another hint: warn everyone in your household that you are in a video meeting so they don’t wander around the house behind you, half-dressed or naked. This is not an uncommon occurrence, I have been told.   

Another not so uncommon occurrence is that cats like to take part in ZOOM meetings. Do not worry if they do: it is fine with me! You can introduce them later. You can also go away and get a cup of coffee if you want, or a glass of wine. It’s all fine with me.

Each meeting will have a start time and an end time, both of which I can ignore. As the participant will be put in a *waiting room,* you should probably be there at least five minutes before the actual talk starts. I will have to bring participants from the waiting room to the actual meeting, and I have heard from people who forgot to do that and couldn’t figure out why no one was at the talk! Hopefully I will remember that step! 

If you belong to a(n) Historical society or a Metis group, or if you know anyone else who might want to listen to the various talks, you can share this information so that they, too, can take part. I suggest that the best way that people might find out the meetings-to-come will be by subscribing to my website, at 

Where will I announce the meetings or talks? You will find them by checking my website, which is why anyone who wants to follow along should subscribe to it (unless you follow me on Twitter or are on my personal Facebook page, or unless you have already subscribed to the series and don’t want further information). So, spread the word!!!

I will be scheduling rehearsals before I begin this process. Mistakes will be made: just be patient!

Also remember: it feels silly, but it is perfectly normal to wave at each other as we say goodbye. Everyone does it: it’s normal in ZOOM! This is the new reality. It is what makes us feel connected in this disconnected time.






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