Phone Calls Are For Old People? Just Not Efficient Enough

from the bye-bye-phone-calls dept

Clive Thompson's latest Wired column is about how many people are making fewer phone calls these days, especially among the younger people, who find other means of communication a lot more efficient. As Thompson notes, voice calls are "badly designed," from a usability and efficiency standpoint:
Consider: If I suddenly decide I want to dial you up, I have no way of knowing whether you're busy, and you have no idea why I'm calling. We have to open Schrodinger's box every time, having a conversation to figure out whether it's OK to have a conversation. Plus, voice calls are emotionally high-bandwidth, which is why it's so weirdly exhausting to be interrupted by one. (We apparently find voicemail even more excruciating: Studies show that more than a fifth of all voice messages are never listened to.)

The telephone, in other words, doesn't provide any information about status, so we are constantly interrupting one another. The other tools at our disposal are more polite. Instant messaging lets us detect whether our friends are busy without our bugging them, and texting lets us ping one another asynchronously. (Plus, we can spend more time thinking about what we want to say.) For all the hue and cry about becoming an "always on" society, we’re actually moving away from the demand that everyone be available immediately.
That last point is a really interesting one. One of the "features" of the "always on" society is the fact that we're actually ending up with better tools for managing our time -- and the "old" telephone system really doesn't fit into that setup. Thompson notes in the piece that he simply won't answer calls that aren't scheduled -- and I've been reaching the same stance lately myself. I actually find it odd when people call me without contacting me first to set up a time to call. If anything, it almost feels "rude."

Of course, some of this could also be corrected by better technology -- such as allowing a phone to indicate some of your status, such as whether or not you're busy. Better yet, would be a system that automatically built in a scheduling feature if someone wanted to talk to you.


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    Jeff, Aug 6th, 2010 @ 1:11pm

    What is sad though is when you can make a 3 min phone call and say everything you are going to say and be done. But no, the other guy will only talk to you using text and it takes 3 hours!

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 6th, 2010 @ 1:37pm

      Re:

      That its why God invented DIAS and GIMP.

       

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      ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Aug 6th, 2010 @ 2:08pm

      Re:

      Sorry, but your problem just isn't that important to me.

       

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      Alan Gerow (profile), Aug 6th, 2010 @ 2:26pm

      Re:

      And why do you think you have priority of 3 of the other person's minutes when you have a question?

       

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      Rose M. Welch (profile), Aug 6th, 2010 @ 3:09pm

      Re:

      A need on your part does not constitute a need, or an emergency, on my part. You, and/or your need, are not important enough for a three minute phone call to him (or me).

      Do you always answer your telephone, no matter what you're doing? If so, do you always give the caller a minimum of three minutes, or do you sometimes schedule a call or conference for later?

      Think about it.

       

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      jamie, Aug 7th, 2010 @ 12:53am

      Re:

      you are so right, i hate people texting me questions so much so that i refuse to answer them nowadays . you can portray so much more in a single minute of conversation than you can in an hour of texting

       

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      RadialSkid, Aug 7th, 2010 @ 2:44am

      Re:

      I've never sent a text message in my life and if I can help it, I never will. I can't imagine trying to tap out a sentence on one of those douchey-looking little tiny keyboards.

      My take: If you won't take a phone call from me, give me your e-mail. If you won't let me e-mail, then our continued correspondence must not be important. I'm not going to be forced into "texting" just because somebody else insists on using nothing other than some silly faddish form of technology.

       

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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Aug 6th, 2010 @ 1:12pm

    :Lobo Santo the Futurist

    Dedicated mechanisms for delivery of two way and one way audio and video are going to die off. Cable television, broadcast television, radio stations, telephones--all dead and they don't yet know it.

    The future is bandwidth. 1 good internet connection replaces all of these dead-end technologies.

     

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    senshikaze (profile), Aug 6th, 2010 @ 1:17pm

    And how the flying hell would land based lines work with this new stuff, or even dumb phones? I mean telephones don't really push that much data above the signals for the phone number (since most land line phones are circuit switched, not packet switched) and for voice. The reason land lines are so reliable is that they do one thing only and they do that well: make and receive voice phone calls.
    While this will work fine for people with smartphones + data, it would be useless for anything else. phones are nice for emergencies, or when the subject is too complicated for txting/im and too time sensitive for email.

     

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      interval (profile), Aug 6th, 2010 @ 1:46pm

      Re:

      @senshikaze: "...they do one thing only and they do that well..."

      Actually, and I think the main point of Thompson's article; I'm rather of the opinion that a land line doesn't do communication all that well. Of course, one can add four-way calling and indication when a third party wants to connect and a whole bevy of other options, at additional cost. But its no substitute for a cell phone. I think the main point of the article is spot on; telephones are essentially a thin loop of copper with a pair of amplifiers and a battery connected in series. The technology is 150 years old and limited. If I'm lost in the wilderness w/a cell phone I at least have the chance of stepping into cell and being able to make a call. My land line at home isn't going to help me at all, even if its set to forward calls.

       

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      chris (profile), Aug 6th, 2010 @ 1:53pm

      Re:

      And how the flying hell would land based lines work with this new stuff, or even dumb phones?

      they won't. that's why fewer and fewer people use landlines in their private lives. i expect a similar trend to slowly creep into our professional lives as well.

      the landline phone is a very simple/inexpensive endpoint attached a very complex/expensive network. the internet is pretty much the exact opposite.

      I mean telephones don't really push that much data above the signals for the phone number (since most land line phones are circuit switched, not packet switched) and for voice.

      exactly. plain old telephones, and the 100 year old network that they run on, have been mostly (though not entirely) obsoleted by newer communications technologies.

      developing nations don't bother with landline networks and are opting for mobile voice and data networks instead. this wasn't an accident.

      The reason land lines are so reliable is that they do one thing only and they do that well: make and receive voice phone calls.

      no, the landline network is so reliable because the telephone companies spared no expense in making it that way, including building it's own separate power grid that they controlled to keep it running in an emergency. that was great when the wired telephone was the only means of communication other than post. today there are multiple wireless and radio systems for voice and multiple methods for accessing the internet, so that kind of expensive reliability just isn't necessary anymore.

      landlines are expensive, inefficient, and lack features compared to pretty much every other method of communication, especially those that run on top of the internet.

      While this will work fine for people with smartphones + data, it would be useless for anything else. phones are nice for emergencies, or when the subject is too complicated for txting/im and too time sensitive for email.

      you are looking at this from the wrong perspective. phones, or rather, real time, two-way audio communication, will always be around, but they will be relegated to what they are best suited for. the same is true for paper books, CD's, broadcast television, the desktop personal computer, and pretty much every other 20th century technological advance that is being displaced (though probably not replaced) by a cheaper, faster, more mobile, or more efficient digital alternative.

       

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      ken, Aug 7th, 2010 @ 7:18am

      Re: land lines and text

      When I learned of ADI (Analog Display Interface) back in the late 90s I was stupefied that the telephony world didn't open it up to phone to phone messaging - this was before Mobile's did it. ADI is what transports Caller ID and had initial proposals to transport data like stock market prices to a telephones display. I think too many Bellheads were in the kitchen and failed to make a big buck!

       

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    Whisk33, Aug 6th, 2010 @ 1:23pm

    Next patent from Apple?

    Better yet, would be a system that automatically built in a scheduling feature if someone wanted to talk to you.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 6th, 2010 @ 1:24pm

    my 'status' is my business

    Its not for you to know whether I'm busy or not. I do not use IM specifically because it broadcasts my status. I appreciate the async nature of texts and email. But I don't want to feel obligated to get back to someone on IM just because my status is available or whatever. All of these technologies have their place, its about how you apply them. Phone calls are not going away, just getting used at the right time rather than all the time.

     

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    interval (profile), Aug 6th, 2010 @ 1:37pm

    Forget landlines

    I don't even use them anymore. I have all the features mentioned by Thompson on my cell phone. Plus I can take my cell phone with me wherever I go. If I don't want to be bothered I can turn it off and my callers have the option of leaving voice mail. I stopped seeing the point of a landline about 4 years ago.

     

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      Cynyr (profile), Aug 6th, 2010 @ 5:01pm

      Re: Forget landlines

      The backup/alternate power for the POTS network. If the power to the only cell tower in the area goes down, you are SOL, or if your house happens to be in a low coverage area.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 6th, 2010 @ 1:41pm

    Thank God kids are always so efficient.

     

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    VanCardboardbox, Aug 6th, 2010 @ 1:42pm

    Crap, I'm old

    Another symptom of old age: the phone rings, I answer it, I talk, I say goodbye. None of this distresses me or feels distracting or overly time consuming. What does feel time consuming is waiting a whole day to complete a back-and-forth with someone over text/email where a telephone conversation could have got it done in a fraction of the time.

    And you'll all probably hate my personal favourite: face-to-face conversations.

     

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      chris (profile), Aug 6th, 2010 @ 2:02pm

      Re: Crap, I'm old

      What does feel time consuming is waiting a whole day to complete a back-and-forth with someone over text/email where a telephone conversation could have got it done in a fraction of the time.

      while that is true, how many telephone conversations can you have at one time without asking someone to hold?

      in that same vein, how often do you use a speakerphone/headset get things done/goof off while you sit on a conference call or on hold?

       

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      Silver Fang (profile), Dec 30th, 2010 @ 10:11am

      Re: Crap, I'm old

      Face to face? I didn't think anyone did that anymore.

       

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      Silly Stuff, Feb 21st, 2011 @ 1:11pm

      Re: Crap, I'm old

      I agree 100 percent. While I work in the software industry, I see everyday how people end up taking longer to get an issue resolved by using email and texting when a simple and far more efficient phone call would have done the job so much faster.

       

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    reboog711 (profile), Aug 6th, 2010 @ 1:44pm

    I hate it when...

    I hate it when I try to schedule something (like a phone call) and people can't (or won't) commit to a specific time.

    It seems over the past year the response of "That day/time should be fine, why don't we touch base in a few days to see what our schedules are."

    After the third time; I often stop following up. As a specific example:

    Wednesday: "Yeah, I should be able to get together for lunch next week. Let's touch base early next week to find out."

    "Sunday: "Yeah, I should be able to get together this week, let's touch base on Tuesday to finalize plans."

    "Tuesday: Yeah, I should be able to get together, let's touch base tomorrow...."

     

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    Gracey (profile), Aug 6th, 2010 @ 1:44pm

    Well pardon me if I remind the dink who wrote that drivel that the telephone has been around...for a very long time.

    Is it for old people? You bet. I am one, and I'd rather have that than try to use some stupid 1" keypad with buttons smaller than my fingernails to text someone. Besides, right now I hear better than I see, making the telephone a way more useful contraption from my point of view.

    There's nothing wrong with the phone...if you don't want to be interrupted, turn the ringer off. Here's the thing...if you answer, your available, if you don't...you're not. What's the big deal?

    I gotta wonder sometimes...progress is not always necessarily better. Take the cell phone (literally - take it please)... people actually expect you to have it with you and ON all the time. And to be honest, if I am outside or on the boat or shopping...I don't want to be answering a phone. THAT'S why I go out - to get away from it.

    My cell sits in a drawer...turned off 90% of every year I've had it.

    PS: I hope NEVER to have a video phone...people do NOT need to see me in my jammies at 3:00am when they call the wrong number looking for a taxi.

     

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      interval (profile), Aug 6th, 2010 @ 1:48pm

      Re:

      Do you yell at the kids when they are on your lawn too?

       

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      Alan Gerow (profile), Aug 6th, 2010 @ 2:55pm

      Re:

      "Well pardon me if I remind the dink who wrote that drivel that the telephone has been around...for a very long time."

      So were horse & buggies but that doesn't mean they're more useful and efficient than automobiles for most people.

      Just because something is old and been around for a long time doesn't mean it's the apex of what could be.

      And your home phone is always on. You have to LEAVE THE HOUSE to be free from the phone. I just don't answer it.

       

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      Rose M. Welch (profile), Aug 6th, 2010 @ 3:22pm

      Re:

      Pardon me if I remind you that horse-and-buggies were around...for a very long time.

      And everything you said about home phones also applies to cell phones. Don't wanna answer it? Turn the ringer off.

      And if you have a home phone, people 'expect you to have it ON all the time'. To be honest, if I am relaxing at home, I don't want to be answering a phone, no matter what kind it is. :P And my home phone was constantly lost and dead 90% of the time.

      Now, with a cell phone, I can text my entire family at the same time with details of our family gatherings, and know that they all get it, and that they'll all have it in writing to refer to later. It's great!

      Also, a landline can't help me when I'm on the go, in my car, running errands, at work, with my kids... In other words, when it's most important for me to be able to communicate, I can communicate. Can't do that with a land line.

      I can't imagine being in an accident or having car trouble with my kids and no cell phone. In Oklahoma heat, that's a big, big deal, and I thank God for cell phones. Also, I travel alot and being able to speak to my kids at night, find directions to where I need to go, or a telephone number to where I'm going if I'm lost, and get traffic and weather advisories is awesome.

      Face it. Cell phones are a giant improvement, but no one is forcing you to get one.

       

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      Cynyr (profile), Aug 6th, 2010 @ 5:31pm

      Re:

      I don't think the article was arguing that 2 way audio conversations would go away, just that the notion of the conventional(just a POTS) phone would.

      As far as going out on the boat, just turn it off, and take it with you. You never know if you are going to have to call home and let them know you are going to be late, or that you caught a nice fish for dinner, or...

       

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    Jardinero1 (profile), Aug 6th, 2010 @ 2:03pm

    You would be better off not scheduling calls and simply taking them when they come, especially don't roll them to voicemail.

    I sell insurance and I answer every call, myself, by the third ring, 24/7, and I let my customers know that if they call me I will answer by the third ring 24/7. The result: I save a lot of time not chasing people down and I get fewer calls during the week and rarely any on the weekend.

    Many people call with minor BS that takes only a second handle and I would rather handle it right then than chase them around after a voicemail Sometimes people call with a major problem and I would rather handle that right then than chase them around after a voicemail. So I save a lot of time by handling stuff right away.

    But why do I get less calls? This seems counter intuitive. I believe there is a whole class of people out there who like to play cat and mouse by leaving messages.

    I got a call on a Sunday and I answered. The caller was surprised that I answered and asked me to hang up so that she could leave a message. I said no worries let's take care of it now. All she had was some question about a line on her bill she wasn't reading rightly. It really upset her that I took care of it then instead of calling her back on Monday. She's never called back except during business hours.

    I guess if people really believe you are going to answer the phone then they make sure not to call unless they are really prepared to talk.

     

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    Adam, Aug 6th, 2010 @ 2:30pm

    That e-messaging beats telephone conversation hands down is not new. I was a university administrator (Dean) for 6 years and the bulk of my communication not handled in direct meetings was by email. Even after meetings where we agreed on something, I sent an email to the participants summarizing what I understood we'd accomplished. Several advantages to this route: 1) you don't interrupt. 2) you leave the recipient with a permanent record to look at before responding. 3) emails are much better composed than requests by telephone.

     

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    Paul Stout (profile), Aug 6th, 2010 @ 2:32pm

    Phone Calls are for Old People? Just not Efficient Enough

    I totally agree with Ken and Gracey. In my case, being 65, I guess its a 'generation gap' issue.

    Whatever the case, I gotta admit that this is the very first blog article of yours that I 100% disagree with. In point of view, it's a boat load of BS.

    While I had my cell phone I infinitely preferred that some one just call me, and forget about texting me. When I had text messaging on my business cell phone at least 90% of all text messages were pure drivel, for which I had the unwanted pleasure of also paying for. It annoyed me so much that I very quickly turned text messaging off, as in totally unavailable. Thereafter my cell phone was strictly a 'voice only' phone and if someone wanted to 'text' me they could damn well just send me an email on their own dime.

    One of the pleasures of selling my business and retiring was the absolute joy I had in smashing it into pieces with a hammer and tossing it into the nearest garbage can. Having a cell phone was a business necessity, but not a necessity I enjoyed. Plus, after 5 years with AT&T, it was also quite enjoyable to tell AT&T to take their contract "early cancellation" fee and shove it where the sun didn't shine.

    But you were right about one thing, voice mail is sheer unadulterated torture. I can't avoid it when calling out, but if any incoming calls start off with automated voice the phone is immediately hung up. As you said, it's very rude. I'm one, of probably millions, who detest and abhor voice mail in any its forms.

    If anybody ever invents and markets a phone that can, on incoming calls, automatically detect automated voice and immediately hang the phone up, I will buy it in a heart beat and hang the expense!!! Just think of all the asshole (pardon my French) politicians, and fly-by-night charities, that I'd never have to spend another second listening to!!!

     

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      Rose M. Welch (profile), Aug 6th, 2010 @ 3:28pm

      Re: Phone Calls are for Old People? Just not Efficient Enough

      I agree that junk texts are annoying, but I don't get them because I had the balls to tell people not to send them. It was that easy.

      And now my family, including the old folks, use text messaging to plan our family events, and everyone has a written plan, at the same time. Pre-text messaging, I had to call everyone, hope they were home, hope that they remembered my call, hope they called me back, talk to the next person, call everyone else back when someone had a problem with timing or whatever, and so on. It took days to plan gatherings. Now I do it in less than an hour, and I'm reading Techdirt during that hour. :)

      Also, a landline can't help me when I'm on the go, in my car, running errands, at work, with my kids... In other words, when it's most important for me to be able to communicate, I can communicate. Can't do that with a land line.

      I can't imagine being in an accident or having car trouble with my kids and no cell phone. In Oklahoma heat, that's a big, big deal, and I thank God for cell phones. I travel alot and being able to speak to my kids at night, find directions to where I need to go, or a telephone number to where I'm going if I'm lost, and get traffic and weather advisories is awesome.

      Face it. Cell phones are a giant improvement.

       

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    Alan Gerow (profile), Aug 6th, 2010 @ 2:34pm

    I've felt this way for years. The way I put it "I have a cell phone so I can make calls, not so people can call me." If I don't recognize a number: no answer. If someone is calling me unexpected: 99% no answer - they can leave a voice mail, that Google Voice will transcribe, I will read, and then decide how I want to respond when I can work it into my schedule.

    I actually had the best man for my wedding back out because I wasn't available to chat on the phone with him enough, and he wouldn't talk through e-mail or text ever. He would just leave me 3 voicemails a day while I was working that I wouldn't listen to because he was just complaining about how I never answered the phone.

     

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    Ryan, Aug 6th, 2010 @ 2:49pm

    So now we need a "status" feature for phone calls? Give me a break. Because merely screening your calls is too difficult and "inefficient"?

    Technology may make things easier, but it also turns people into whining babies.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 6th, 2010 @ 2:51pm

    We apparently find voicemail even more excruciating: Studies show that more than a fifth of all voice messages are never listened to.
    Excruciating? Where do they get that idea? It's true that I don't listen to most of my voice messages but that's because it's often faster just to call the person back. (Specially if I just missed the call.) Besides, 70% of the time the message is just a family member saying "Call me back".

     

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      Alan Gerow (profile), Aug 6th, 2010 @ 3:04pm

      Re:

      Before "visual voicemail" when you had to listen to each message in order ... it was excruciating. Having to skip through 20 messages of "call me back" or "this message is for X. I'm Soandso from ThisBusinessYouNeverHeardOf" before getting to the one you actually need to hear. At least with "visual voicemail" you can skip straight to the important ones and delete the rest.

      So, in the past 3 years it's less painful. But before that, I would fill up my voicemail box because so no one else could leave me a voicemail so that I didn't have to keep listening to stupid messages just to delete them.

       

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    Dan Benavidez, Aug 6th, 2010 @ 3:11pm

    There's a place for all forms of electronic comms ... and to rely solely on non-voice or avoid face-face is irresponsible in a business setting. The key is everyone understanding the guidelines of when to use what; that's where the efficiency truly lies.

     

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    lux (profile), Aug 6th, 2010 @ 4:30pm

    I disagree with a majority of this post. Email is the lifeblood of the company I work at, and more often than not, people CC everyone and their brother because "everyone" needs to be kept in the loop, on both the client and vendor side. Some folks will follow up on a point that was brought up about five emails back, and that sets this group in one direction and that group in another direction and it's an utter mess.

    Believe it or not, there is a MASSIVE push where I work to move AWAY from email and all electronic forms of communication, because 9 times out of 10 you will get way more information over the phone from the client, or in person from an Engineer, than can be requested in an email.

    People think different on the phone - they're on their toes, they speak off the cuff, and generally convey in a different stream of consciousness than is functionally possible via electronic form. You may need to explain something to somebody that is complex enough to take 10 paragraphs, but why do that when you can just explain it in an entirely more human fashion than via email or IM.

    Moreover, the following has me scratching my head:

    "For all the hue and cry about becoming an "always on" society, we’re actually moving away from the demand that everyone be available immediately."

    Is that why 90% of the folks you see on the subway, in a taxi, driving a car, walking, waiting for a bus are on fiddling with their Blackberry/iPhone/Android checking email/sending texts/you name it? I just don't buy the fact that we are in the INFORMATION age, yet somehow LESS information is being passed amongst us with regards to communication. Just don't buy it, unless I'm missing something.

     

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      Rose M. Welch (profile), Aug 6th, 2010 @ 4:58pm

      Re:

      ...90% of the folks you see on the subway, in a taxi, driving a car, walking, waiting for a bus are on fiddling with their Blackberry/iPhone/Android checking email/sending texts/you name it?...

      Yes, exactly. They're reading the news, checking their e-mail, and texting when it's convenient for them, not when someone else demands that they be available.

      You uhh... kind of proved the point there.

       

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      Rose M. Welch (profile), Aug 6th, 2010 @ 4:59pm

      Re:

      I just don't buy the fact that we are in the INFORMATION age, yet somehow LESS information is being passed amongst us with regards to communication.

      Also, where did you get this idea from? I don't see anyone else mentioning it, or saying that your statement is factual.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 6th, 2010 @ 6:04pm

    You can get a lot from someones tone of voice that you will never get from a text or an e-mail.

     

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    The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Aug 6th, 2010 @ 7:51pm

    Of course, some of this could also be corrected by better technology -- such as allowing a phone to indicate some of your status, such as whether or not you're busy.

    We used to have that before mobile phones, call waiting, and voice mail. We called it a busy signal. All you had to do was take the phone off the hook and your callers would have some annoyance judo preformed upon them by means of a raucous buzzing in their ear that let them know that you were currently unable or uninterested in taking their call.

     

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      Rose M. Welch (profile), Aug 6th, 2010 @ 8:08pm

      Re:

      How did you know whether or not you were uninterested in taking their call?

      Taking the phone off of the hook keeps EVERYONE from contacting you, not just people that you don't want contacting you.

       

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    btrussell (profile), Aug 7th, 2010 @ 5:58am

    "How did you know whether or not you were uninterested in taking their call?"

    Lots of reasons. The world will still turn.
    Maybe I am going to be in the bedroom for the next 3-4 hours.

    Some things are more important to me than any emergency you could possibly have (Although, had you called, instead of posting this message, I would have got back to you yesterday instead of today).

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 7th, 2010 @ 8:23am

    One will appreciate a POT if they ever have the misfortune of going through a hurricane. All power is lost and you are toast when batteries die out. This is precisely the reason one of the must-have's in my emergency supplies is a POT, the buggy whip kind that has a cord between the handset and the body.

     

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      Rose M. Welch (profile), Aug 7th, 2010 @ 3:02pm

      Re:

      My landline was hooked to a battery, so I'd only have a landline for a short time until the battery died.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2010 @ 10:44am

        Re: Re:

        My landline was hooked to a battery, so I'd only have a landline for a short time until the battery died.

        I was once without power for almost 2 weeks but my landline worked the whole time.

         

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      ken, Aug 8th, 2010 @ 8:33am

      Re: POTS and emergency access

      The Coward is correct. If the bulk of your telephony outside plant is underground, you will have telecommunications through most storms for at least 4 hours - the battery time of many telco objects (diesel backup can extend CO time much longer, but outside plant electronics often is only backed up by battery). But you have to have a non-cordless phone! How many people know this? You can bet no news journalist knows this and the average Ameican household, still with a landline, has cordless phones! It can actually be hard to find a real phone- non-cordlesss at some retailers!

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2010 @ 9:48am

        Re: Re: POTS and emergency access

        ...and this is why my hurrican emergency kit includes an inexpensive telephone with a wire between the handset and the base unit. BTW, these "cheap-o" phones cost about $10 and can usually be found at stores like Target, Wal-Mart, K-Mart, and many online sources.

        Several years ago we had 4 hurricanes mosey over our area over the course of about 2-3 weeks. Lost electrical power for several days, but the POT remained unaffected. Moreover, even if electrical power had not been lost, the damage to cell towers turned most cell phones into paper weights until the towers were repaired.

         

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        btrussell (profile), Aug 8th, 2010 @ 3:33pm

        Re: Re: POTS and emergency access

        My cordless phone has batteries in the base for back-up when the power is out.

         

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    Geezer, Aug 7th, 2010 @ 9:02am

    Old people!?

    Mike, some old people have been ranting about copyright issues since you were in diapers.

    Don't assume that because someone has been around longer than you that they aren't hip or aren't dealing with the very same issues that impact you. Some "old people" have actually been around long enough that many of your "new" issues have been seen before in only slightly different guises. I was talking to Alex Bell about the "ringer problem" once ...

     

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    The Infamous Joe (profile), Aug 7th, 2010 @ 2:37pm

    Get off my domain name, old peeps.

    From reading the comments on this post I have realized that old people are cranky. I always thought that "Get off my lawn" stuff was a long running joke. I mean, we have people who agree with this post (I would dare say, the younger group) saying that voice-to-voice communications have a place, but it's a smaller and smaller place. A very reasonable response.

    Then the posts that start with "I'm old" and end with smashing phones with hammers, or using phrases like "stupid little keyboards". C'mon ladies and germs, why the hate? If you don't like it, fine. I'm probably going to really hate teleportation when I reach your age, because the point-a-to-point-b method will work after a tornado knocks the power out. (That last bit was sarcasm, btw)

    Though, I have to say, having every house I've ever lived in pre-wired with land lines makes it very easy to pipe music into every room of the house on the cheap. Thank you, Mr. Bell! :P

     

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    Anonymous, Aug 8th, 2010 @ 5:53am

    texting

    Texting can never be more efficient than voice. Typing is slower than talking. Always was-always will be. Moreover, life being as unpredictable as it is, sometimes you gotta talk to someone to get something done right now. Voice does that.

    To be sure, I'm an introvert and a phone call can be a disruption-a stressful aggravation even, but its very effictive when need be.

     

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    Terry (profile), Aug 8th, 2010 @ 10:01am

    What a load of crap!!!! All these other ways on communicating are what is turning our society into a bunch of idiots that can't talk face to face with a live human being. I don't buy in to the everyone is so busy a phone call disrupts my life bullsh*t. How about a phone call gives the info or conversation a "human" touch instead of the cold lifeles text or email message. Besides all that a phone call can convey the message a whole lot quicker than an IM,text,or email. I'm sure 99% of the population can talk a lot faster than they can text.

     

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    Lacey, Aug 8th, 2010 @ 10:06am

    you are all stupid

    I don't find getting a phone call rude. Why in the world would that seriously make you mad? And the whole thing about starting a conversation to see if it's okay to start a conversation doesn't make any sense. I mean if your busy and you get a phone call just say 'sorry but I can't talk right now but I'll try to call you back later.' how are they supposed to know that you were busy? And I'm pretty sure that you all have called someone without knowing they were busy when they actually were. Your article is pointless. I just wasted my life reading it.

     

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      Brendan (profile), Aug 13th, 2010 @ 3:38pm

      Re: you are all stupid

      And the whole thing about starting a conversation to see if it's okay to start a conversation doesn't make any sense. I mean if your busy and you get a phone call just say 'sorry but I can't talk right now but I'll try to call you back later.' how are they supposed to know that you were busy?

      I think you might have missed the point. We're trying to solve that problem, where the other party "doesn't know if I am busy."

      If somebody wants to talk, I prefer to get an email or text message saying "Please call when you have a chance." This is a much more reasonable request than the RING RING TALK NOW that calling implies.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 9th, 2010 @ 6:06am

    Patent this, quick! The USPTO has given out patents for less, and this one sounds like a gold mine.

     

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    claireccc, Aug 10th, 2010 @ 2:01am

    The real secret? We hate people communicating TO us.

    1) Cell phones suck. Half the time you can't hear someone clearly. I'm 37, not a geezer; I have had a cell for almost 20 years. And never has the reception been okay, on any networks or phones.

    2) Email sucks. For the past 10 years of my work life I've had around 200 NON-spam messages per day asking for as response, action, etc. This is not a tolerable work environment when you're also expected to go to meetings and... oh yeah, do work. Email encourages people to ask you to do things. It's like the ding-dong-ditch of the professional world.

    3) Voicemail sucks. I think in the 80s or something people got all into voicemail. "Look I can set up 20 different messages to tell people where I am!" In the 90s I worked in this agency where all the older account people literally changed their greeting 10 times a day. And let's not forget the whole crappy-ass weird numbering system they all have? "To delete, press *76. To save, press #717. To forward, press 34. To page the sender, press 5*1*.... THAT IS NOT A VALID COMMAND. Please press *76 to save. Press 4#3719 to add a forwarding message and CC your supervisor. Press 3.14 to commit suicide."

    I'm actually all for the phone now. I used to be all for the email... it was like "write it down so I can make it a task and also have a paper trail and be all asynchronous." Then once everyone got all into the email, it became so fucking burdensome I stopped answering most of them. I noticed that I SENT more emails than I responded to, and I knew I had a problem.

    As for the phone... I let my home voicemail fill up and now no one can leave a message. My cell... I lose it most of the time. Granted, I'm kind of antisocial, but I finally figured out THE BIG SECRET:

    WE WANT ALL OUR COMMUNICATIONS TO BE OUTBOUND, not inbound. No matter what the technology used, we prefer to communicate when, where, and how WE want to. All communication directed towards us--unless it's from some hottie you met in the last 3 months--is annoying.

     

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    Annonymous, Sep 2nd, 2010 @ 1:35pm

    Sorry to dig this one up, but it really struck a chord in me.

    Sry 4 da shrt msg but has ne1 had a txt message plan which allowed for sending a text which is equal to a 1 minute phone call in terms of length? How about a 30 second monologue? Imagine trying to explain exactly how genetic engineering started with some priest investigating how beans tend to inherit characteristics from their parents, and the evidence behind it. I can verbally do that in 5 minutes, without leaving out any details, and still make some silly puns in the process. How many text messages would that take and how many hours would it take to type them, even if it were just a monologue from one person? Test messages are a silly fad which is just not efficient enough. Besides, why should I pay to get a question and then have to pay a second time to answer it. I think it all boils down to intelligence, not efficiency.

    I hope someone saw the contrast in my first sentence.

     

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    Silver Fang (profile), Dec 30th, 2010 @ 10:21am

    Texting is better

    I like texting way better than talking because it is faster and more discrete.

     

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