Faces of Pervasive Communications

So what exactly IS pervasive communications?

I get that question a lot these days. I am starting a new series here dedicated to fleshing out what it means to me and, more important, what it could mean for you.

One aspect of pervasive communications is considering the types of communications that take place on the sprawl of communication options available to us. Marshall McLuhan famously said “the medium is the message” and never has that been more true. Today, communication decisions don’t only involve what you are going to say but on what medium you’ll say it.

I recently tweeted:

The implication: “Why are you leaving me a message?”

Voice communication has a value. It’s synchronous. Multiple “iterations”  of a dialogue can be completed in rapid succession. If you are leaving me a voice mail, it’s asynchronous. You are leaving the message at your convenience, and I am listening to it at my convenience. However, let’s consider the limitations of voice mail:

  1. Listening to the message requires accessing my voicemail and investing the same amount of time to listen to it as you spent to record it
  2. Most likely I will need to take action as a result of the message e.g. jot down the information you’re giving me or make a note to follow up with you.
  3. For most people the voice mail communications is a dead end. Saving, forwarding, replying are all difficult (in most circumstances).
  4. Voicemails contain data that is not easily indexed and search

In this case, perhaps another medium may be more appropriate?

This is not a new challenge. We’ve always had a wide variety of communication channel options. However, we are seeing the impact of this aspect of pervasive communication becoming more acute. What do you think?

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  • I agree that there is something “flat” to voicemail as opposed to something a little more “real time” like a text or a tweet.  The real time modes feel more organic and keeping with the times and such.  That said, the real time modes assume that a) I’m available to read it in real time; b) that I’ll answer in real time; or horribly c) I’m not avoiding you.  

    I don’t mind voicemail, to be honest.  I like hearing the timbre and texture of one’s voice and hearing/sensing the emotional background to whatever the particular need is of the person on the other side of the voicemail.

    • Great point about “timbre and texture.” One of the biggest challenges of text based communication is difficulty is delivering (and interpreting) sub-text and intent, something we are trained in do from an early age. I wonder if this will change as we become more “fluent” in text-based communication. Perhaps there is a next phase in text-based contextual clues beyond emoticons?

  •  I’d prefer email. Text messages gets annoying after all.

    • Thanks, Alkin. You bring up an excellent point. Part of the consideration in understanding the best medium for your message is the preferences of your audience. 

      And I agree, I should probably change that to “Just hang up and send me an email” 

  • I’m not available to take your tweet right now, at the cursor, please leave your name and number & I will read it as soon as possible. Thx

    • Funny thing is, I send my voice mail to Google Voice, which translates them and emails it to me. :)

  • I think we too often default to email when voice is preferable in some communications but voicemail feels to me like the cul-de-sac of the modern day.

  • I gave up voice mail 2-3 yeas ago (especially with 3 locations) and went with the PhoneTag.com service. They email the voice message within 60 seconds or so ~ I do have the option of listening  at the end of their email, which I do very seldom and only when the transcription is suspect :-) It also gives me the record of the person who called, their number and what they said. So easy to return calls. CASUDI

    • I’m with ya. I do the same thing with Google Voice (only available in US, I think). 

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