Spanish American War
Welcome back to the final instalment of our mini-series on how Mikogo could have been useful at certain points in history. Before, we’ve looked at the American Civil War and how important it is to keep your confidential information secure, and at Ancient Greece and the potential for great innovation if you manage to put the right heads together. Today’s story is one of those where you can’t help but gawk (and, admittedly, chuckle) a bit about the absurdity of it all – but we swear, it’s all true. Read on to find out a strange piece of trivia and what happens when Spanish officers don’t know about the Spanish-American War.

Part 3: The Spanish-American War (and the Importance of Communication)

The Situation:

You’ve probably all heard about the Spanish-American War at some point. If you’re a bit rusty on your history, don’t worry: It’s all there in the name. The war was fought between Spain and the United States at the end of the 19th century – and it happens to include a prime example of miscommunication. As wars go, it was a fairly short one, running just over two and a half months. No matter how short your war is, though, there’s no excuse for not informing your outposts about it – which is exactly what happened in this case.

In June 1898 an American vessel, the Charleston, approached Guam, a Pacific island under Spanish rule, and fired what Spanish officers took to be a military salute. Since they didn’t have enough gunpowder – why would they have stocked up on it after all? – a couple of Spanish officers took a small boat and made their way over to the Charleston. Aboard the ship, they kindly thanked the Americans under Captain Henry Glass for their salute and asked if they might borrow some gunpowder from them so that they could return the salute in proper form.

Turns out that the Charleston was actually firing at Fort Santa Cruz. It’s just a tad embarrassing when your enemy has to inform you that there’s a war going on when you’re already in the middle of a naval siege…

As a newspaper article from July 1898 states, “The officers said [the governor] had received no notification of the existence of a state of war between Spain and the United States, and [they] were taken entirely by surprise when the Charleston opened fire.” Being entirely unprepared for any kind of combat, Governor Don Juan Mareno had no choice but to surrender the island.

Guam Newspaper - Didn't Know War Existed

Omaha World Herald, published as Morning World-Herald; Date: 07-05-1898; Volume: XXXIII; Issue: 278; Page: 1

What Mikogo could have done:

Do you know where Guam is? It’s a small island in the Pacific, a good way to the East of the Philippines and close to pretty much nothing at all. Maybe it’s understandable that no one let them know. After all, it was a short war. Getting a message to Guam would have taken time, not to mention how expensive sending a ship might have been. Luckily, you don’t have to weigh the pros and cons of sending out a piece of information anymore. Thanks to modern collaboration tools, you can work with team members on a tiny island somewhere in the middle of nowhere just like you can work with someone in the same office.

Screen sharing allows you to collaborate very closely, so that your meetings are actually productive. If you have an island in the Pacific (or just some colleagues who work there), you can use the Mikogo scheduler to set up a regular meeting with your Governor (or your team members). Send them an email invitation with just one click, or even add the meeting to your calendar and share it with a reminder so that no one forgets about it. It makes a lot of sense to have regular meetings with your team to keep everyone in the loop, so set the meeting up as recurring and Mikogo will add it to your default calendar the same way.

So, what can we take away from this?

World Map PeopleIt’s easy to forget about your tiny island in the Pacific, and it certainly would have been a bit of a hassle to send a message to them in 1898. In this case, though, it probably would have been worth it. As things turned out, the Spanish practically handed Guam to the United States and thus gifted the US their first possession in the Pacific – a good strategic position.

This isn’t even so much about Mikogo or screen sharing in particular – it’s more about the importance of communication. Even if you think that a project or a change is small and no one needs to be notified – let someone know. This is particularly important for people who don’t work in the same office. If you have different offices or if some people in your team regularly work from home, don’t forget to keep them in the loop. Just because someone works from a Pacific Island doesn’t mean that they’re not important for your operation.

Of course, you shouldn’t spam your colleagues with updates about every single aspect of your day-to-day work. If you create a flood of information, the really important bits will be swept away. The thing is though, it can be tricky to determine what is or what might be important. A change that seems small to you could impact a completely different department in a significant way. At Mikogo, we have regular meetings between the software development team and sales, marketing, customer care and support. Using Mikogo for screen sharing during those meetings allows everyone to get a good idea of what others are working on very quickly, even if it’s not their area of expertise at all.

Additionally, changes that are made are also published via a project management platform like Atlassian’s JIRA or Confluence. From there, they can be shared with any teams or individual team members that might be affected by a change. This way, everyone can be kept up to date and there won’t be any unfortunate surprises.

This concludes our brief history series – we hope it was fun for you, too! Like we said before: Even if history happened a long time ago, we can always learn from it. Hopefully you’ve taken away a good lesson or two about modern communication and collaboration from these posts. If you have any other interesting stories, you’re very welcome to share them in the comments below. With over 5,000 years of human civilization, there are bound to be some we haven’t heard yet!