Auditing Over the Internet
Apparently, I’ve stepped in it, as I often do. In my comments regarding auditing over the Internet, I’ve hit upon an unsuspected “sacred cow” of the Independent Field. Though there are those who disagree with this practice, those who advocate for it are exceptionally vocal. So let me state for the record: If you want to audit over the Internet, be my guest. And if you believe you’ve been helped by being audited over the Internet, far be it from me to invalidate your gains. There. I don’t think I could be more clear than that.
That said, for the rest of you, including those who may be contemplating participation in such an arrangement, let me explain to you why I believe it is a bad idea.
First, auditing over the Internet is auditing on a via. I can’t imagine anyone could argue about that, but I’m sure some will. I remember back when I did the HAS course in 1976, we drilled TR-1. One of the purposes of that drill was to be able to deliver a command to the PC without using vias. No waving of hands or gesturing as you talk, no raising of eyebrows unconsciously, etc. No vias. You sit there across from the PC, who’s in the same room as you, three feet or so away, and ask, “Do birds fly?” and “Do fish swim?”. That was an integral piece of auditing tech, basic to all future delivery of processing to PCs. Maybe I’m wrong and LRH relaxed that requirement, but I don’t think so.
Second, auditing over the Internet involves the use of the Internet as the via. Now, let me tell you a couple of things about the Internet. I know these things because I’ve been assembling, programming and dealing with computers since 1974. Auditing over the Internet involves at least you as the preclear/pre-OT having a web camera connected to the Internet so the auditor can see you. A web camera is like a motion picture camera, except a lot cheaper and lower quality. A typical motion picture camera or web camera delivers what looks like continuous images of whatever it’s pointed at. At least that’s what you’d think. But you’d be wrong. These devices instead deliver single frame photos at a rate of speed roughly 30 frames a second or so. When you put them together as you do with a motion picture, they look like moving images, but in fact they are individual images, stitched together and shown in order. Sounds okay, doesn’t it? Except it’s not. In the case of a web camera, you’re sending those images over the Internet, one at a time. Now, the Internet was not designed to deal with this kind of traffic from the outset. It was originally designed to deal with text and such, which it does very well. The problem with transmitting video over the Internet is that each individual image is transmitted separately and may take a different route and pass through a variety of computers and networks before it gets to the auditor on the other end. Each of the images transferred is numbered, and when it gets to the auditor’s computer, the auditor’s computer attempts to reassemble them in order, to make the full motion picture possible. Unfortunately, since each image can take a different route, some images may be delayed in arriving. And hard as the auditor’s computer tries, it simply may not be able to fit all the images in in order before it begins to display the whole motion picture. Some images may never arrive. Others may arrive, but too late. They’re dropped from the movie. The result is jerky video. If you’ve ever seen a Skype phone call, or ever seen a jerky Youtube or other video on the Internet, you’ve witnessed what I’m talking about. I just explained to you why that happens.
Third, general purpose computers, like your laptop, your desktop, your iPad or your iPhone are meant to do a variety of things at once. There are all kinds of processes going on in the background as you read email, compose a letter, or work with a spreadsheet. While your computer is dealing with your keystrokes as you type, they’re also checking for new emails, or scanning for viruses, or indexing documents on your hard drive, or checking to see if the printer is ready to print something, etc. These are all “general purpose” computers, and they have a multitude of processes occurring simultaneously. If you’ve ever had to wait (even a fraction of a second) for your computer to respond when you interact with is, you’ve actually witnessed what I’m talking about. Moreover, a virus or similar program somehow installed on your computer without your knowledge can slow things down even more. These kinds of slow-downs can strongly affect performance or create jerky response, just like I mentioned above in my second point. Welcome to jerky Skype calls or jerky Youtube videos again.
So these last two items can, separately or together, affect not only how well your (the preclear’s) computer responds in picking up and transmitting images of you, but also the auditor’s computer in showing video and needle reactions. Is that what you want? Do you want to have the auditor, because of the Internet and his and your computers, miss a read or a facial expression indicating pain or emotional charge?
Of course, Internet auditors will probably swear they’ve never seen this happen, or that such events are minor for one reason or another. Yeah, okay. But I’m telling you what the liabilities are.
Now, if you’re still not convinced, let me put it this way. Let’s assume that LRH is still alive. And let’s assume I’m putting together a CSW to him to allow me to audit over the Internet. Being an honest sort of bloke, I tell him all the advantages of auditing over the Internet, but I also include the above data as well. What do you think his response will be? If you say that he’ll do anything but disapprove it, you’re lying to yourself. And if you say that not only will he disapprove it, he’ll also send me to cramming for even asking the question, your understanding of the way LRH thinks is pretty good. And if you think he’ll cancel all my certificates and make me redo all my auditor training, congratulations! You know LRH exceptionally well!
Again, I’m simply informing you of the facts. Any reasonably knowledgeable computer geek can testify to the last two of my points and the TRs bulletins will testify to my first point. As to LRH’s responses, those are hypothetical. But I’ll bet I’m right about those, too.
If you choose to audit or receive auditing over the Internet, the decision is yours. You have the facts. Proceed at your own risk.