In response to my last post on the iPad and user interface, a reader wrote on the Facebook version of this blog and asked "Do you think the network effect is diminishing the value of spoken conversation?
I think that the proliferation of social media, beginning with email, has greatly diminsihed the use of spoken conversation. A recent study of FB showed that the use of FB increased the self-esteem of men but not women. So in some ways FB is providing us men with the social rewards from having to talk to people but in a much more efficient way. I am sure that studies of Twitter or Quora would show the same thing. Social media provides the social rewards previously only available through voice (in person or by phone) but by being more impersonal it proves more efficient.
The question that needs to be asked is why we need this increased level of efficiency. The answer is the proliferation of information we are forced to deal with. If I look at the start to a typical morning I need 2-3 hours to manage email, read my RSS feeds, check FB, review Quora, check that my blog is working, scan Twitter and generate a blog post. Most people do not get up at 4 or 5 am to fit this information management into their day, but rather deal with it during normal work hours. Consequently most people spend the whole day managing information, which is interspersed with work activities. Effectively, almost everybody now has two full-time jobs--information management and work. With this increased "workload" voice has become too inefficient.
The only times I consistently use voice are to progress or close a transaction, for board meetings or if there is a crisis. I use voice for transactions because it is more efficient to explain a complex idea by voice, but many people do not have this skill. Board meetings are done by voice because the people on most boards would not be comfortable using text chat. Crises require voice because it is a more efficient way to communicate emotion to a large group.
The one other place where I use voice is in face to face meetings with new business prospects, but this usage is actually diminishing. I apparently have sufficient web presence that some people have considered hiring me without a meeting. Again, social media is proving to be more efficient for prospects.
Should a reader ever want to speak to me use Skype. Contact name is rhhfla.