I am in Taipei, and thinking hard about why, exactly, I’m here.

It’s 2010. I can pick up a phone and talk to someone on the other side of the world with crystal clear sound. I can do it for zero or almost zero cost. I can share my computer screen with them, or use a webcam (hell, even one I designed) so we can see each other while we talk.

I’m trying to convince myself that in spite of technological options and conveniences, sometimes the best way to communicate really is face-to-face. Today went a long way towards proving that true. I don’t actually think we could have accomplished in a week remotely what we did in just one day here, and we have four more days of just as intense work. Though it’s somewhat overwhelming in nature, the prospect of trying to accomplish this work from 6,000 miles and 8 timezones away is even more daunting.

I am in Taipei, but for the first 12 hours of my visit, I heard almost no Chinese being spoken. We were met at the airport and taken by car service into the city. I woke up in a room in a hotel that could have been anywhere in the world. I went to breakfast with my coworkers at the cafe in the lobby where we were greeted in English, were served perfectly reasonable coffee, and could have had waffles, scrambled eggs, bacon, croissants, or smoked salmon. We got picked up by another driver and whisked off to our supplier’s office, where we were again greeted in English and served coffee. We got on wifi, logged in to our email, and looked at presentations and spreadsheets all morning long.

I opted not to join my coworkers at the restaurant in the hotel for dinner. Instead I checked out dinner spots on the Internet and walked the 20 minutes to a surprisingly good pizza joint. Along the way, I found, among other things, this awesome coffee paraphenalia store (I don’t think they even sold coffee, just equipment), got some exercise, and feel much better about the whole trip.

I’m in Taipei, but I’m totally going to make the best of it.

posted January 13, 2010 – 8:10 am
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