My Zoom wedding

Fully Charged

Hey y'all, it's Austin in New York. By the time you read this, I'll be en route to getting married. Though the global pandemic forced my fiancĂ©e and me to cancel our wedding months ago (no regrets—we're thankful for our health!), it won't stop us from eloping in private next weekend. Yet Covid-19 has managed to add unexpected guests to the ceremony: streaming technology, Wi-Fi and a lot of hardware.

With coronavirus infections resurgent across the country, we made the difficult decision to live-stream our nuptials. It's not the harborside Massachusetts shindig that we once envisioned, but it's the most responsible way we could come up with to include our parents and siblings safely. The result feels a bit Nora Ephron 3.0: a romance for the age of social media. Instead of the wedding reception, we're now thinking about Wi-Fi reception; rather than table settings, we now contemplate privacy settings. And after a week of Big Tech antitrust hearings and blockbuster earnings, our revised marriage plan has proven a blunt reminder of how digital connection has supplanted the human kind.

The logistics are surprisingly complicated. At first, we figured a simple laptop camera would suffice. But reviewing the grainy streams our MacBooks deliver in poor lighting, we sought hardware alternatives. My iPhone 11's triple-camera system captures pristine pixels, for example, but what if an unwanted call or text disrupted the recording? We also briefly considered using my GoPro, then opted against filming our ceremony like a Red Bull commercial. My brother, our officiant and the only in-person attendee, even joked about letting us borrow his DJI drone.

Then there was the software dilemma. Our relatives run the gamut of tech-savviness, so should we rely on the universality of Apple Inc.'s FaceTime or Microsoft Corp.'s Skype? What about Google Meet or Facebook Inc.'s video-chat rival, especially for a larger number of virtual viewers? Inc.'s voice-activated Echo Show device certainly wouldn't work, since my soon-to-be-wife's name is Alexa. (I swear she's real!) In a sign of who's winning the video-call wars, we eventually settled on Zoom Video Communications Inc., after it became clear most of our family members already understood how to use the platform more than any other.

In the end, we tried to minimize the number of devices and programs we'll incorporate into this cherished moment. Yes, my California-designed iPhone will be standing in for my California-based best man, but no measure of whiz-bang apps or gizmos—be they hologram services or augmented-reality products—could ever make up for his unfortunate but essential absence.

That's why we'll be playing wedding music off an old-school Jawbone Jambox, instead of having "smart" speaker artificial intelligence encroach on the big day. It's why we'd rather a throwback Fujifilm Instax camera for print-out posterity, in lieu of some higher-definition, cloud-connected photo competitor. And it's why, beyond the family Zoom, my Alexa will likely post just an Instagram photo or two, instead of exhaustive digital galleries, for our friends we couldn't accommodate on the live stream.

I'm grateful we have the technology to keep in touch in spite of the pandemic. But we'd gladly give it all up if it meant having them there in person on our wedding day. Austin Carr

If you read one thing

A very big deal: Microsoft is in talks to buy TikTok's operations in the U.S. and three other countries from its Chinese parent, ByteDance, Bloomberg reports. President Trump, though, floated the idea of an outright ban on the app Friday night, citing national security concerns. On Sunday, Microsoft said in a blog post that its CEO had spoken on the phone with Trump, and would aim to complete its discussions with ByteDance by mid-September. 

And here's what you need to know in global technology news

A 17-year-old in Florida is alleged to have been the mastermind behind Twitter's big hack, and is facing dozens of felony charges. 

Official music videos are (finally) coming to Facebook, thanks to new agreements with rights holders. The company may even bankroll some video production. 

Big Tech revenue is surging during the pandemic, but Google is missing out

Nvidia is in advanced talks to buy chipmaker Arm from SoftBank. 


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