Electronic communication is a an awesome thing. It promises to make the world a smaller place by letting anyone talk to anyone, anywhere.
But, most of our electronic communication- IM, email, IRC blogging – forces us to channel our ideas, thoughts and feelings through tiny little boxes (curse you, TextArea, and your non-keybindings working self!!!).
I’m thinking about this because Eran and I got just got done with an experiment, the results of which you should be able to see to the right (and in some other flickr photos). The experiment was simple- we opened up every possible means of electronic communication we have available*.
The result- too many boxes.
Electronic communication promises to change the world by allowing people who would otherwise be unable to meet f2f to connect for work and entertainment, but it is and never will be a replacement for f2f communication. I, for one, would rather be down at the pub having a beer with someone than trying to channel myself through an IM window.
But even given electronic communication’s inherent limitations, it still sucks. Sucks bad. IM networks are fragmented, email and blogs are fragmented- though serving subtly different purposes and appealing to different writing styles, we’re forced to track conversations across mediums**, without much help from our tools (not even good search!).
I think Eran summed it up well in this photo, when he said:
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
* IANAB, but if I were I would call this performance art. (But, like I said, I’m not, so I didn’t and I won’t.)
** You wouldn’t believe how tough that was once Eran and I had all the windows open- I’d IM him on AIM, he’d reply on Skype. Sound familiar?