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Asynchronous Communications

Posted By David Marble, Wednesday, April 09, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, April 08, 2014
Recently, I have been having discussions with colleagues about the trends in methods for person-to-person communication.  The explosion in social media has changed the landscape in an obvious and fundamental way, but I am most interested in the human reaction to the forms available. This leaves me wondering what people really prefer. Based on zero scientific research, I tend to believe we prefer asynchronous communications for most of our interactions.  A perfect example of this is e-mail overtaking the use of phone calls.  It seems as though we like the privacy afforded by a mediating technology like Facebook, so we can decide if we want to comment on something, and when.  Most people I know turn off their chat feature.  Heaven forbid that people know you are “available." Who even answers their phone without knowing that it is either an emergency or someone you really needed to talk to right then?  Of course, while texting can be a bit more real-time, you really don’t have to respond and can end any text string with an excuse, like “My battery died."  I have to wonder if these methods will eventually degrade our ability to be able to have intelligent, dynamic, live conversations.  Maybe we will need long pauses in conversation as we muse about the appropriate responses. ...Come to think of it, for many this will be a welcome improvement.

This idea extends to the physical with respect to meeting in person.   Back in my days of working with the folks at PictureTel in the early '90s, one would have thought that every meeting and even every phone call would be held via video by now.   Today, most of us have virtual meeting technology at our fingertips to do just that, with Skype, Jabber, and the myriad of other available options.  Despite that, it appears that we don’t care to see each other quite as much as I would have expected.  The asynchronous method of watching a conference proceed via streaming, even after the meeting is over, is very popular.  Even people using conference technology like WebEx or gotomeeting rarely utilize the built-in video features in my experience.  I think there are some interesting sociological trends buried in the technology use models for communications and obviously a huge market for the ones that hit.  Are people simply more comfortable in hiding?

Tags:  abber  acebook  broadband rhode island  icturetel  kype  nterpersonal communication  ocial media  olycom  ommunication trends 

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Mark Montalto says...
Posted Thursday, April 10, 2014
I dare say David that most would agree with you. Perhaps this is a case of the pendulum of technology swinging to an extreme and we'll settle back to some appropriate, happy, worthwhile median. I hope so - in that spirit, we at OSHEAN are hopeful that we can re-invigorate the person-to-person interaction reflected as part of the value of OSHEAN - a "real" place where members can meet, share and have "..dynamic, live conversations".
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Richard Kubica says...
Posted Thursday, April 10, 2014
I think we have more choices today than ever before and people select the medium that best meets their needs.

I find texting to be the most flexible because it can easily perform asynchronous as well as synchronous communications. I can respond quickly in real time or put off a response (or read) until later.

Email is great for longer messages and, while it can be synchronous, in my experience, it is awkward and clumsy to have an interactive conversation. Great for sharing documents and more complex ideas, however.

Phones can be asynch as well as synch but voicemail is even more awkward as asynch communications than email is for synchronous. I once got great advice from a provost who, observing a long string of email back and forths, counseled me to call the person and get everything out in one conversation.

Finally, in my experience, interactive video really enhances voice communications but people are not yet comfortable or familiar with it. I find most people are fine with viewing others on a call but are reticent to put themselves on video. I think it's the "I don't look good enough to be on video; my hair may be out of place..." syndrome. :-) Whether people will get over that or not, time will tell. I am hearing of more uses of video communications for distant family communications, so that may lead the way to making it more normal to use in the office.

Just my two cents...
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