Jan 14 2018

Future, unprofessional

One of the questions I've been asking myself lately has been for how long we will use our smartphones for actually calling people. Surveys tell us calls are constantly declining with gen-zers and such, and FWIW my anecdotal observations with family, friends, and students seem to support this, with calling people becoming sort of "intrusive" to many below 18.

Slashdot reported last year on David Marcus, FB VP of messaging or something, and clearly an interested party, who has supposedly predicted that phone numbers will go away very soon. I briefly posted about this on Facebook when it was news, but it seems worth of a little recap here as well.

That's not what I actually mean myself, as I'm more interested in the drop of synchronous voice communication and the rise of asynchronous messaging and the implications therein, but it's close enough. So I took a look. An interesting conversation, as usual, with a distinct pattern of denial and distance clearly emerging the more I scrolled down the 200+ contributions. Clearly your average slashdotter is older, and geekier.

No surprise there, but one comment in particular strikes me as a very good representation of where we go wrong with these sort of things:

"It would also be _hugely_ unprofessional to do any job-related communication over such a venue." (meaning FB, TW, Kik, Telegram, Snapchat, you name it)

It might be unprofessional *now*, for us, but we are going to be extinct in a few years, aren't we? Who's going to be in the control room in 2046, us or that gen-zer who thinks calling her on the phone is "intrusive"?

The future is not today with a weird date stamped on it. If anything, the past should teach us better. The telephone had a similar stigmata in its early years, with "visiting" being the right thing to do and "telephoning" the unprofessional thing, and see where we are now. While I don't see calling vanishing into thin air, I'm pretty sure dismissing the future on the grounds of it being "unprofessional" compared to today's standards is not the right way to go.

The entire conversation can be found here: Are Phone Numbers Doomed to Die?


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