Benjamin Schieder


2005 September 19

Communication over network - be it the Internet using one of countless VoIP implementations or the POTS (Plain Old Telephone System) all have one problem in common: impersonality. Some suffer more from this problem, some less.

E-Mail and Instantmessaging

Both E-Mail and Instantmessaging (and if you want you can add the Short Message Service (SMS) here, though it's hardly a viable means of communication of any sort) are the worst way of communication: They only deliver words.
Take these two words:

You idiot.

Now, how did I mean these words? Did I want to piss you off? Tell you what I think of you? Tease you? Or just say something because you gave me a present although I told you not to give me one? In the first two cases you'll hate me and never talk to me again. In the last case you'll probably become even more fond of me than you already are.

Probably. Because that depends on how well you receive the message.
Scenario #1: You get up on time, the sun shines into your bedroom, you take a shower, have a cup of really good coffee, get to work by bicycle because it's a warm summer day and your boss gives you a raise just when you got to work.
You probably already expect that mail because you know I would be so over that present because I wanted to have Patrick Stewards biography for a long time.
You see the mail, read the words "You idiot.", laugh to yourself and start work.

Everything is fine.

But is it?
Scenario #2: You wake up and realize that you overslept and should be at work in 15 minutes. You hastily get up, forget to brush your teeth, skip shower and instead use the triple dose on deodorant, start getting dressed and hit your toes on something really hard. Since by now you should be at work you decide to skip breakfast and immediately get going. You realize that it's pouring like the flood is coming back and take the car. While you're stuck in a 3 kilometer traffic jam you almost hit the car in front of you. You curse. You arrive 90 minutes late and get scolded by your boss.
You read my mail.

You will never talk to me again.

Telephone and VoIP

Telephone and VoIP are only marginally better in that they transmit voice and with voice they transmit at least a bit of emotion.
But really, be honest, how often have you been on the phone with an angelic voice but would have wished the other person would just shut the f*ck up? Because the person was behaving stupid, because you really had to do something else, because you're sleepy, because you wanted to have lunch ten minutes ago, because you were ill and wanted to go to bed or just because you really don't want to talk to that person?

Personally, that was quite a lot of times with me. Mainly when I had to talk about really important stuff and just wanted to discuss it personally because you have a lot more communication going on than just plain text. Facial expression and pauses only being two of them.

How To Do It Right™

So, what's the best thing to do then? If you can get away with it by any means possible, don't let a Mail or phonecall get longer than this:

A: "Hi, this is A!"
B: "Hi A, what's up?"
A: "Do you have any plans for 8PM today?"
B: "No, not yet."
A: "Okay, let's meet at Joe's Bar then, I've got something to talk about."
B: "Sure, see you there then. Bye"
A: "Bye"

If you can cut it down to that, then you have mastered Phone-Jutsu.


Category: blog

Tags: TechSucks