The New Authority on Virtual Meeting Backgrounds Is @ratemyskyperoom

"We've all been judging backdrops, haven't we? I just started tweeting about it," says Claude Taylor, the man behind a Twitter account that's gone viral in the social distancing age

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As the coronavirus shuts down business, it opens up your home to prying eyes. It's only human to judge, and when you log on to Zoom or Skype for a virtual meeting, your colleagues are judging what's behind you.

Your backdrop. 

Claude Taylor is one of those judgy types, and he's taken his opinions to Twitter. He started @ratemyskyperoom, and within two weeks has topped 80,000 followers.

"We've all been judging backdrops, haven't we? I just started tweeting about it," Taylor said.

He rates backdrops from 1 to 10 though he has handed out a negative rating or two. It can be about paying attention to the little things. Sportscaster Jim Gray, for example, got a 5, losing points because two rolls of toilet paper were visible on the bookshelves behind him. 

Turns out, books are a good option, even for Taylor.

In fact, that has become a source of income for the Brattle Book Shop in Boston. The owner, Ken Gloss, says he is curating video call backdrops for people, choosing what books to put on their shelves by subject, color, even texture.

Don't want your clutter starring in your virtual work meeting? Museums across the country are offering downloadable versions of iconic pieces of art to use as virtual backgrounds.

He's done this in the past for movie shoots and theater productions. It's not bringing in a lot of money but he says, "with the virus, with being shut down, closed, not having a lot of contact, it's just fun and everybody can use that a little."

Taylor said he loves books but adds, "You also want to appear as if you've read some of those books."

And they shouldn't be the only thing we see.

"You gotta do more than that," he said. "Add a little bit of an angle. Add some objects. I'd like to see books-plus. I like books plus art. Books, art and a plant."

He also prefers depth so we can see more of the room.

But Gloss said some of his clients want a bookshelf behind them to block the view of the room: "They don't want to show off their house. They don't want people necessarily to see the million-dollar painting in the background." 

It's no fun getting a bad rating from @ratemyskyperoom. I'm proud to say I got a 7 for the backdrop in my living room. But I'll be working to get that up to a 10.

Jimmy Fallon checks in on Steve Higgins, who shows off his fun new Zoom backgrounds.
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