Communication 102

“Focus, Speed, I am Speed”

In communication history, the first piece of technology – the telephone – was the first revolution. Now, people didn’t need to worry about how far their near and dear ones where, as long as they had a telephone installed at their home or offices. It reduced distances to nothing, and the latency was reduced to negligible. Along came mobile phones, and one didn’t need to even reach out to a phone to talk. It was always in one’s pocket. The dependencies were reduced to nothing and the mode enabled communications truly anytime, anywhere.

However, what it also changed was the whole nature of long distance communication. In many ways, long distance communication had a purpose attached to it during the good old days. One would reach out to the far ones, only if they ‘needed’ to. There was a sense of importance – “somebody is trying to reach me from so far away, it surely must be important.“

But with the ‘anytime, anywhere’, one could reach out to other whenever he/she ‘wanted’ to, not just whenever he/she ‘needed’ to. The cell phone could be rung any time, any where – important board meetings, movie theatres and where not. One just had to pick the phone. One couldn’t just ignore it, no matter where one was, or what one was up to at that time. Bring in telecallers and spam marketers to the mix, and one would slowly realize why this boon could also be the bane.

So, what is really happening here?

The communication could be theorized on a coordinate axis like below. The important and urgent axes are always competing with each other and the balance has seldom been there in history. The good old days had important on top, and the mobile phones came up with urgent. The phone just wouldn’t stop ringing until one picked it up.

The caller IDs would be of little help, as they could tell you who is calling. But is it an urgent call, which is worth stopping whatever one was doing?

The speed of the communication increased to the speed of light, but the focus was lost.

Time to bring balance between ‘want’ and ‘need’. Time to bring the balance between ‘important’ and ‘urgent’. Time to bring focus.

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Communication 101

The basic tenets of any communication can be summarised with a few questions:

  1. Who is communicating with whom?
  2. Why is he/she communicating with the other?
  3. When is he/she communicating with the other?
  4. What is he/she communicating with the other?
  5. How is he/she communicating with the other?
  6. Where is he/she communicating with the other?

We have come a long way, along with technology evolution, in what the answers to the above questions could be.

During the pigeon mail days, the who could be questionable. After all, anybody could sign the letters. And the when could be days or weeks. The how would be written.

Then came the post boxes. It added a little reliability to the transaction by having human touch all along. But the answers to the above questions essentially remained unchanged.

A certain Mr. Graham Bell, finally changed things. He came up with a device which would enable people communicate instantly with each other, no matter where they were, as long as they were within a walking reach of the device at their end. So, the when became immediate. The how became verbal.

Nearly a century later, this device came to be inside everybody’s pockets and the where did not matter anymore.

And as we have crossed 20% of the 21st century, the answers are probably follows:

  1. Who is communicating with whom?
    1. Rely on caller ID or trust the person on the other end claiming who he is.
  2. Why is he/she communicating with the other?
    1. You will know when you start talking. Trust it is something important.
  3. When is he/she communicating with the other?
    1. Whenever he/she wants. The other party’s convenience may or may not come into consideration. Trust that the other party is free to take calls right now.
  4. What is he/she communicating with the other?
    1. You will know when you start talking. Trust it is something important.
  5. How is he/she communicating with the other?
    1. Mobile Devices call apps
  6. Where is he/she communicating with the other?
    1. Wherever he/she wants (as long as it is within network areas). Again the other party’s convenience may or may not come into consideration. Trust the party is at a convenient place.

If one really thinks about it, while the modes and speed of communication transactions have improved, these basic answers haven’t changed much throughout history. There is a lot of inherent trust built into these transactions (which has even been taken advantage of).

Communications 201 is waiting for some different answers to the above questions.