Posts tagged “im”

Mashup potatoes


I’m sitting here at work and my wife Theresa and her friend Kiki are getting an early dinner.

Would I like something?–Kiki IMs me from her phone and sends me a pic of the menu. I text message them an order. Theresa calls me back–it’s too early for the dinner menu. So I click to the lunch menu on my computer.

This is all done without breaking my stride from the work I’m doing. After it happens, I can’t help but sit for a second and think about the awesome array of technology and communications firepower I’ve just used to procure my Caesar salad, and how utterly normal it felt to do this.

It’s the future, now. (But we still need to eat our leafy green vegetables.)

Related posts:
Technology strengthens families
Thinking about tomorrow makes my brain hurt

Don’t brand me, bro

IMing recently on Yahoo Chat, I noticed the other-party-status-report telling me the person I was chatting with was “hammering out a wicked comeback.”

Usually, this small gray line of text just says the other person “is typing.”


I wasn’t sure how what I had written would merit “a wicked comeback.” I mentioned it to my conversation partner and found out that one of our IM clients had inserted this snarky turn of phrase into our interaction all by itself.

Doesn’t it make you wonder how often your virtual communication is being framed in a way of which you are unaware–and which may or may not have any real connection to

  • what you are communicating
  • your personality
  • the context of the interaction

Don’t get me wrong–I like that companies are shooting for a more authentic and playful voice. But in this case, the locus of the voice was inappropriate.

Bill Breen wrote in Fast Company:

“Our sense of what’s “real” in this post-postmodern world takes on all kinds of strangely distorted shapes and guises, as if it’s reflected back at us from a swirl of fun-house mirrors.”

When a distinctive voice gets thrown into the mix in a way that makes it seem like part of someone’s personal communication, it’s really that person that’s getting branded, not the company. I don’t want the personality of my software superimposed on my communication.

When tools start speaking for the user, rather than the user speaking through the tools, it just makes communication more difficult.

Related posts:
Meet the New Authenticity
Mundane is the New Fun


In From Many Tweets, One Loud Voice on the Internet, the NYT explains Twitter.

“Twitterers” send and receive short messages, called “tweets,” on Twitter’s Web site, with instant messaging software, or with mobile phones. Unlike most text messages, tweets – usually in answer to Twitter’s prompt, “What are you doing?” – are routed among networks of friends. Strangers, called “followers,” can also choose to receive the tweets of people they find interesting.

Tweets are published on a “public timeline” on Twitter’s home page.

I finally started using it and I’m not sure I like it. I have an instant message window that every once in a while pops up a small statement from someone I’ve decided to follow. Someone I know, or know of. It’s the same people I’m linked to on flickr, dopplr, and many others.

I think the phenomenon of loosely-keeping-in-touch is fascinating. Last year, in one week I went to one party and someone started a conversation about a recent trip, skipping the “so where have you been lately” because they subscribe to my flickr pics, while at a dinner with friends, something that had been included in a blog posting (something more biographical about me, I had bought something, or had some experience, etc.) moved the discussion forward, without me having to introduce the story. When you see people you know, people who you don’t directly interact with very regularly, they already are vaguely “in touch” because of stuff that you publish.

If you don’t “publish” you can still “consume” of course, and keep up with people who may not know much about you.

I think it’s a really powerful idea, it’s an impactful side effect of some simple technologies like putting up your pictures on a website. It starts to evolve well-formed social interactions like party chat.

Twitter takes that behavior and blows it up. The side effect is now the main effect (and no doubt tons of new side effects are created).

And I don’t like using Twitter. It makes me feel lonely and isolated. I don’t know what most people are talking about, I sometimes feel bad I’m not included in their conferences, travels, adventures, dining. Maybe I’ve chosen the wrong people to follow, maybe it’s not the same people to Twitter with that I would LinkIn with. I don’t have a posse, a regular gang. I have social relationships with colleagues, but we’re not in each other’s lives in any sort of deep way.

I don’t dismiss or blame Twitter; I may find the experience evolves over time, or I may simply bail. It’s always interesting to introduce new layers of interface onto my social interactions and see what the impact is.

I’d love to hear from others how they are using Twitter and of course how I might start using Twitter.

Update: My twitters, lame as they are, are here.

The Media Can’t Get The Right Message About The Medium

Rep. Foley’s Explicit Messages are big news. But ask yourself this, based on what you’ve read so far. Were the inappropriate communications in email? Or IM? Or both? I really can’t tell. What I’ve seen is sloppy reporting, where a non-technical publication doesn’t bother to distinguish between very different technologies. It was a running joke when reporters kept calling Undercover a “chat room” or a “message board” or an “online forum” instead of a mailing list – you don’t expect much accuracy (or interest in accuracy) from entertainment reporters (I think one story in ’97 or so referred to me as Eve Portigal) and those technologies were somewhat newer back then. But now we’ve got front page coverage by hard-news journalists in all the top publications, presumably with fact-checkers and lawyers looking this stuff over.

Don’t these sort of details matter?


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