synthetic zero

December 19th, 2008

Email is for old people, they say; younger people have moved on to IM, Facebook/Myspace, and text messaging as their preferred means of communication.  Though I certainly fit into the “old” category (my peers are probably the oldest people to have grown up with personal computers at home), and I still use email (mostly for work, which I suspect most of these “young people” will end up using for that purpose as well, later), I also have moved on to IM and Facebook (though not text messaging — which is a total ripoff cost-wise, in my opinion) for most of my social interaction.  A lot of my age-peers, though, haven’t, which is quite annoying … but there’s an even worse communications tool, this thing people call a “phone.” I try to avoid it as much as possible but I find is it still used, often by people even older than me.

Phones, from my point of view, are useful for coordinating with people you’re trying to meet with for a concert or dinner or something, emergencies, and maybe ordering pizza (though even that is being replaced by the web).  Beyond that, they’re annoying devices: when someone calls you have to either take the call or let it go to voicemail.  You then have to pick up your message, which involves listening to it and then somehow writing down the information in the message, which is often inconvenient.  Etc., etc.  I have gotten to the point where I tell people: I much prefer email or IM as a means of communication; if you call me don’t expect to get a call back quickly, if at all… and please don’t call me if you can at all avoid it.

On the other hand, I’ve also noticed a generation gap with people vis a vis email vs IM.  I’m a very IM-oriented person, and have been for a very long time — been using it from the ancient days of ICQ.  In fact, my friend Doug Cutrell and I once designed an IM service long ago, before it had been invented — we decided not to implement it because we thought it was “too obvious”… ha.  I like IM because it combines the back-and-forth quality of a conversation with the asynchronous nature of email.  But, I’ve found some people (often my age) either prefer email or don’t even use IM at all… it’s definitely a culture gap.  I’ve used IM as my primary means of communication for a long time, and I use it also for work, quite a bit; I was surprised when I got to Google (a job I have recently left, by the way — I’ll write about that another time) and found they still communicate primarily with email… a little behind the times!

ps Armi Chan reminded me that hearing someone’s voice can be nice.  That’s true — I like to hear AND see people, sometimes … for that I prefer using something like Skype video chat.  But then it makes sense to start on text IM, and transition to Skype video later…

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one response to this post:
  1. Cartel Agency Inc. says:

    Skype, arguably the webs worst customer service….

    Thousands peril as Skype seemingly blocks accounts at random, with no explanation, and no response to customers.

    April 27th, 2009 at 10:34 am

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