The decline and fall of the telephone

I think this is right.

At work, unless something requires immediate attention, communication is through email or IM. Calls are scheduled ahead of time and I have never checked voice mail on my office phone. My cell phone voice minutes for work peaked around mid 2007 and have gone down every year since.

The problem with the telephone is that every communication assumes highest priority. When the phone rings there is no way to tell if it’s communication that really does need to happen right now or something that could be handled later. You have to stop whatever you’re doing and answer the phone despite knowing that there is a high probability that whatever it is will be less important that what you’re doing at the moment. Fortunately, email and instant messaging have allowed us to stop using the phone for non-priority communication.

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5 Responses to The decline and fall of the telephone

  1. You don’t have to answer the damned thing. I don’t. Love the phone, get feedback right away. But I screen my calls.

  2. Old NFO says:

    Yeah, but you’re assuming we all have IM, and we aren’t allowed to have that on a mil system… For me, if it’s a phone call, it’s important, as somebody needs something now!

  3. alan says:

    No IM on the DOD net? Is there a good reason for that?

  4. Jay G. says:

    You know what the biggest problem with the telephone is, as far as the business setting?

    No record.

    If I send an e-mail to a colleague asking for information, I have a record of what I asked for and when I asked. A week from now, if I don’t have that information, I can re-send the e-mail and ask for an update. If I still don’t get what I need after a couple weeks, I re-send the e-mail and copy their boss.

    If I pick up the phone and call, it never happened. As soon as that handset hits the receiver, they can forget we ever talked and it’s just my word against theirs when I ask for information again.

    Don’t get me wrong. In a perfect world it would be much better to dial someone’s extension, say “Hey, when’s that widget X going to be finished?” and have an answer in an hour or so – even if that answer is “we’re not sure but we’re looking into it”.

    But ours is not a perfect world, and some folks are just plain lazy. E-mail keeps those people honest…

  5. BobG says:

    To me, phones are a necessary evil, only to be used when absolutely nothing else will do.
    How some people can spend all their waking time yapping on the things completely puzzles me.

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