Signal Strength

by Imran Ali

One of the key insights I picked up from the inaugural ETel conference was the increasing importance of signaling in modern communication...and not simply the technical protocols, but the subtle, ambiguous social signalling that takes place in all human communication.

Yesterday's Register alluded to this topic in an article entitled From information overload to communication overload (Who needs nine ways to be put on hold?).

On any given day I typically receive 20-30 emails, 100s of tweets, 500 or so RSS items, 5-6 phone calls; a subset of these inbound communications are more important to me than others, some are transformed and republished into other media...blog posts, bookmarks, emails, calls and the like.

Companies such as GrandCentral and Equals are looking to address some of this complexity - but is seems to me they're still approaching this through telephony metaphors.

When media, communications and entertainment are intertwined, do we need to develop new, richer signalling metaphors that can reduce a noisy stream of autistic notifications to an elegant, humming flow? I think so...I don't know what these metaphors may be, but perhaps a good starting point is a single mechanism to quantify the volume and nature of what's thrown at us?

More broadly - should Emerging Telephony really be more about Emerging Communication?

2 Comments

Moshe Yudkowsky
2007-05-11 11:53:37
That's a very good question, Imran. I have several different answers, but I keep coming back to the same thing I said at Etel: that the goal of much of technology today is to replace the once-inexpensive personal servants that were once the perogative of the middle class.


After all, if you had a loyal staff, of personal secretaries and a gentleman's gentleman, you wouldn't have to worry about all this information overload. They would screen it all for you and keep you informed while you concentrated on the more important tasks.

Imran Ali
2007-05-11 16:13:04
For sure - perhaps Amazon's Mechanical Turk can reintermediate the secretarial class ;)