Monday 18 May 2020

A Zoom with a View

Saturday night's Leap in the Dark, curated by author and publisher Nicholas Royle (Manchester), was dedicated to prose, with a fine line-up of writers appearing in his Nightjar Press imprint

We had a lock-in afterwards during which a few die-hards picked the bones out of Thomas the Tank Engine, clergymen trainspotters, John Donne, Henry James, (unrelated to the Sodor fleet), Henry James's suitcase and so on, until very late. As The Pale Usher I couldn't go the distance, but the conversation was still flowing when I checked out. It's the first time I've assigned hosting to another person and I feel this could be a thing in the future. The party can continue after the host has left, although I need two think about the potential security angle - the so-called 'threats cape'.

There have been some shocking incidents recently in which online events run with the Zoom app (and other apps) have been targeted by hackers, as described in this Guardian report.

So I thought I'd mention some of the security measures in place for A Leap in the Dark, the twice-weekly gathering of creative types which, as The Pale Usher, I organise and host. This is by way of reassurance for members of the Company and the audience.

The measures include, but are not restricted to, the following:

- each one-off event has a unique link to be used just once, in conjunction with a unique password, also used just once

- the link and password are sent only to members of the Company and invitees who are personally known to me and whose names are on a guest list finalised at 5pm on the day of the show

- the link and password are sent to the  invitedaudience 15 minutes before each event begins at 8pm, allowing invited guests to log on and assemble in the virtual waiting room. Contributors get a slightly earlier invitation at 7:30pm so they can mingle in the virtual Green Room

- I never use my personal ID (which would allow uninvited users to access our gathering)

- as the host I control admission to the gathering on a one-to-one basis (I do not 'admit all' with a single click); nobody unknown to me is admitted unless they are fully accredited and on the guest list agreed in advance

- these events are not, and never will be, open to the general public. The number of places is capped and other security measures are in place

- members of the core audience are automatically invited each week to the Friday and Saturday Leaps. Others are invited to specific gatherings on a one-off basis if I receive notice in advance from a sponsor known to me, and have a confirmed email address. This allows contributors to invite friends and families as guests.

- finally (and this is important) invited guests must not share the unique link and password with anybody else. I understand why  contributors in particular would like their friends and family to be in the audience, but please make it clear that they should not share the link and password with any third party, because if their name isn't known to me I shan't admit them on the night (with apologies).

That's as safe as I can make it.

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