I’ve had many moments over two decades as a Silicon Valley-based reporter to marvel at all that technology lets us do, but there’s one moment that stands out.
Back in 2011, my husband and I were in the middle of Times Square in New York, watching as our son’s California high school marching band played its way across the street in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. As I snapped photos and video snippets and shared them in near real time with family and friends across the country, my husband, connected via video chat on his iPhone to our daughter who was studying abroad, held his phone above the head of the crowd so she could watch her brother march by. We, and everyone around us, could see her smiling and cheering him on from half a world away.
It was an amazing experience, made possible by smartphones, some free software and a healthy wireless connection. In the nine years since, the tech that lets us connect in real time no matter where we are in the world has only gotten better. And I’m not even talking about 5G.
I’m reminded of that Times Square scene today, as major conferences from Mobile World Congress to SXSW have been canceled, as Facebook, Google and others have decided to ditch their physical developers’ conferences and move them online and as companies, from Apple to Salesforce to Twitter, have told employees they should work from home and/or skip non-essential travel for the foreseeable future and stick close to home.
As the spread of the coronavirus causes fear, confusion, and economic concerns — not to mention shortages of everything from hand sanitizer to toilet paper — this is a moment when technology can shine as long as we stay calm and turn on our tech.
At CNET, we’re focused on what we’re always focused on: serving as a trusted source of advice and news for our readers, helping you understand what’s going on and, when complicated topics need explaining, explaining them. To help make sure we’re as helpful an information resource as possible, we’re checking in with, the World Health Organization, the US Centers for Disease Control, other health organizations and appropriate government agencies around the world working to provide meaningful updates about the virus.
Our Science Editor Jackson Ryan in Australia, our health and wellness team led by Sharon Profis and Sarah Mitroff in San Francisco, and our how-to editors and reporters across the world are pitching in to bring you the latest, fact-based information on what’s happening. You’ll see stories focused on the pragmatic steps companies, from Apple to Twitter, are taking to contain the virus’ spread and the pragmatic advice we should all take to protect ourselves.
TL;DR worth repeating: Wash your hands. Don’t touch your face. Don’t shake hands with others (we recommend the Vulcan greeting instead.). Sneeze into your elbow. Don’t make your own hand sanitizer. Stay home if you’re sick. Disinfect your devices.
Our news and advice teams, led by Roger Cheng and Jason Hiner, respectively, are in contact with companies, executives, analysts and organizations so we can bring conversations from canceled events and shows to the fore and keep them going. MWC may have been canceled, but we covered and compiled the announcements about products and services that would have been made on the ground in Barcelona — just as we always do. We spoke with industry leaders to get their take on tech to come, including our exclusive interview with HTC’s new CEO Yves Maitre who spoke with us about the evolving their VR headsets. And we gave our readers got scoops on products in the works, like this TLC phone with an extendable screen.
We’ll do the same with SXSW 2020, and with the news we expect to hear via live streams from Facebook during its F8 developer’s conference in early May and Google’s I/O developer’s conference in mid-May.
And of course, we’re reporting on news as it happens and offering special reports and deep dives into the topics we think are important to our readers. Last week, our culture team published a series of stories — Welcome to Mars — about our quest to colonize the Red Planet. This week, we’re looking at passwords and why they may not be the best choice for your security. Covid-19 doesn’t mean you don’t want to know what’s new in the world or that you don’t want to distract yourself by making plans and setting tech priorities. We plan to help keep that conversation going.
As usual, we’re staying in touch with each other — and with the newsmakers we talk to — in person and via the videoconfercing and online chat tools that already enable us to stay connected, whether we’re working in the office or telecommuting from home, and whether we’re working on laptops, tablets or smartphones.
As we continue to cover the coronavirus and other situations that may arise, we’ll be focused on what we’re always focused on — serving as a trusted source of advice and news for our readers, helping them understand what’s going on and, when complicated topics need explaining, explaining them.
Thanks for reading. Your ideas or suggestions are welcome. Stay healthy.