Posts tagged “instant messaging”

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

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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