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What if Zoom were Steam Powered?

In this era of virtual chat sessions and Facetime, can you imagine something akin to this in a steampunk fashion?

I was kind of tickled when I saw Wild Wild West back in the days of Blockbuster Video. I laughed at how many modern day contrivances they twisted into existence through the lens of steampunk.

So what would a steampunk era Zoom chat look like today, hmm?

First and foremost, we must imagine some alternative to a modern laptop. I can imagine some antique, brass key contraption you’d be entering commands.

Look no further than this “typewriter” invented in 1870. (You can always count on Wikipedia when it comes to historical artifacts like this!)

For the visuals, I can’t see anything like a glass panel. So I’d reach toward the way Hollywood makes up visuals when under pressure. Just…project a “hologram” into thin air. Everyone buys it.

We are talking steampunk not aliens, so you can’t use that thing they had in Stargate: SG-1.

A nice ball with a hologram emanating…from nowhere. (They sure come up with cute stuff, ehh?)

To make this fit into a more steampunk fashion, you need something more mechanical. I can visualize something generating a small cloud of smoke with a beam of light shot at it through a spinning wheel.

For audio, of course we must have a classic victrola earphone. But for talking? I like to go big. And that means have a microphone like the cool dude from the 1984 Dune movie.

You know what I’m talking about.

So…can you visualize our rig so far? Maybe the Big Ole machine itself? Probably something tucked behind an Old Western bar. Because I can see Kevin Kline showing it off to Will Smith.

The man slides out that slick keyboard (after pouring a shot of whiskey, right?), flips a couple mechanical switches, and starts generating smoke in a bubble. He flips up the earphone and grabs the mic hanging on a couple chains.

But what about the channel itself? How would this machine send and receive packets of data to someone else?

Well…this is where you start handwaving. And the plot of the story probably plays role.

You would say something like “this only works when you’re with two miles of each other”. And if you want to dial up tension, the story pushes the two people JUST past the limit, so comm breaks down.

What do YOU think would make a cool Zoom chat in the world of steampunk?

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