Remember the days of long winded phone calls, answering machine messages that filled up the entire tape, handwritten letters delivered by snail mail, or worse, horses? Yeah, me either. Those days are fading further and further into obscurity with every day that passes and the simple fact is this: We do not communicate with each other like we used to. At all.
The question then, is why? What is changing and why is it changing? When did the shift from length to brevity take place and will it continue to do so. As far as blame, that’s a bit trickier to pin down but one thing is for certain: Social networks and new social media is walking around with a giant bullseye on its back for playing a major role in exactly how we express ourselves, and how many characters we’re given to do so.
The fact is, status updates and “what’s on your mind” is rapidly replacing email conversations and back-and-forth dialogue. We are all able to now express ourselves in tiny packages, what we’re doing, thinking, feeling and believing in 140 character tidbits. I guess the question is Why? When UPI.com asked FriendFeed founder Paul Buchheit these very same questions, here’s what he had to offer about the changing landscape of communication:
“I think it’s a new form of communication; not quite e-mail, more lightweight and more real time, often with a little bit of a publishing flavor to it…”
Yammer founder David Sacks agreed, saying:
“What people want to do on social network these days is post status updates…We think it’s all people want to do.”
It’s all changing, it’s all happening. How do you feel about it? Careful…you only have 140 characters to answer that…
This is an interesting question, and one that immediately reminds me of one of my key tech tenets. How people interact isn’t changing, just the tools.
Think about it. Do you sit down and have a long involved conversation with your co-workers every time you see them? Or even your friends or family. No, many times its, “hey, how ya doin. Gotta run.” ( Sounds kinda like a Twitter update…?) Oh, and these you kinda throw out there to anyone that’s interested.
Sometimes you do get the chance to have lunch or dinner and have a little longer and share more details about your recent vacation or big promotion, whatever. Or maybe you have a problem fixing the washer or with the neighbor’s dog…again, not really directed at someone, just an update… (Can I get a Blog Post amen?)
Then there are those longer, personal conversations usually between two or just a couple of folks. Not always time sensitive but very direct and, well, personal. This is the personal letter of yesteryear or the email of today.
And for those time sensitive, gotta talk now issues, there’s SMS or (could it be) a Phone Call!
See, I think we still communicate in the same ways we always have, we’re just taking advantage of the best transport media for the need.
Oh, and there is precedent for this. Remember when telegraphs hit the market (no, well, neither do I but…), messages between two people went from verbose hand-written letters to terse, almost coded telegrams (that would be email to twitter for you young whipper-snappers out there).
We will always have a couple of options available to us, even if they continue to change. It doesn’t mean any one obsoleted the other, just enabled a new base of usage.
At least that’s my point of view!