I live near my parents and they have no idea how to effectively get in touch with me. This is infinitely frustrating to me because, at any given, moment there are, at least two to three ways to instantly get in touch with me. Still, my parents choose to email an account I don’t use or call my house line… my house line… I haven’t picked that up in over a year.
HEY PARENTS — GET WITH THE NADD.
The following is a prioritized list of how I prefer to be contacted. This list tries to be as generic possible about you, the person who wants to contact me, and what you’re all about. You may be a total stranger, you might be a co-worker, or you might be my Dad… in any event, here’s how to find me:
INSTANT MESSAGING (iChat/AIM: jerkyrands) I love the instant message. I’ve said this before. It’s non-intrusive, it’s fast, and it has the added bonus of the buddy list which shows you/me whether or not you/I are available to talk. Instant messaging is about instant gratification. None of this waiting around for an email response or voice mail crap… you’re in, you’re out… you’re done. I’d say I do about 20-30% of my communication via instant messaging, but it continues to rise. Sweet.
ELECTRONIC MAIL (firstname.lastname@example.org) When someone moves from instant messaging to email, the mental note I make is, “This person wants a record of this conversation.” Ok, fine. Email is also a much better medium for complex reasoning. Conversely, it’s also a better medium for significant misunderstanding. I’d say email is where I do 40% of my daily communication.
IRC / CHAT ROOM My interactions via IRC/chat rooms has been on the decline for the past year. I continue to hold onto the experience probably because of my late 80s BBS experiences, but I believe the emergence of instant messaging has eaten into my usage. Still, there are a small set of people that I primarily interact with via chat rooms. I’d say 5% of my communication is chat room based.
CELL PHONE Again, there is a very small population of folks that I interact with via cell phone. Cell phones have the added advantage of always being with me, but most folks know that I’m online all the time and try an instant message first. Cell phone communication makes up about another 5% of my daily interaction. Text messaging is worth mentioning here — I don’t use it — I’ve tried it, but I don’t use it. No keyboard, no way.
There are three more means of communication that pop to mind, two of which are mostly useless and one which we must learn to use more.
WORK PHONE It might be my gig, it might be instant messaging, but no one uses the work land line. I’ve got voice mails there right now… the light is on and I’m not checking it.
US POSTAL Snail mail. Unless you’re Amazon or Netflix, this isn’t a timely means of communicating with me. That’s a bummer because I enjoying seeing what people’s handwriting looks like.
FACE TO FACE Ah yes, human contact… that awkward hallway conversation… 1:1s with your boss… lunch with a co-worker. As a population, we, the engineers in the Silicon Valley, appear to be getting much worse at this. Why? Well, read this article again and tell me why. We’ve got all these rapidly mutating communication toys (oddly enough, developed by engineers) which lend themselves to rapid communication without all fuss of actually need to look someone in the eye.
This deficiency of tools is the actual reason my parents have difficulty getting in touch with me. They believe that unless they’re able to have a face to face conversation with their son, well, what’s the point? They’re right… much is lost the various translations we need to apply to the different mediums at our disposal. The lossiness of essential non-verbal content in these mediums, I’m certain, is the source of much of the peacemaking I’m required to do as a manager.
The first question I ask anyone who walks in my office ranting about THAT FREAK IN THE GROUP JESUS HE’S ANNOYING is, “Did you talk with him?” Invariably, the response is , “YES I DID WE’VE BEEN GOING BACK IN FORTH IN EMAIL FOR TWO DAYS NO.” So, I ask again, “Do you talk with him?”