Telephony takes a back seat to online communications

* A personal example of how online is the first communications recourse

Occasionally, we get so accustomed to our new way of doing things that the alternative, pre-convergence methods slip by. Such happened to Steve recently when he was participating in a fund-raising phone-a-thon for his alma mater.

A particular classmate was on Steve’s call list, and the “at work” number was listed as both the home and work number. Since the classmate was also a friend, Steve took it upon himself to find the correct info and call the friend at home. Obviously, Internet access was needed so that a directory, such as whitepages.com, could be accessed.

After searching in vain for live Internet access, somebody suggested that there actually was a service where you could get this type of information over the phone. (It’s called “directory assistance.”)

Duh! In spite of the fact that it was after five o’clock somewhere, Steve had not been visiting Margaritaville. Instead, this lapse seems indicative of the extent to which we’ve made the transition from telephony being a primary to a secondary form of communications. Statistics vary as to the exact percentage of time spent on e-mail as opposed to telephone calls, but we’re betting that the percentage of communications is getting close to 80% e-mail.

And now for the rest of the story. After finally requesting the home number for the friend, it turns out that it’s an unlisted number. So Steve ended up leaving a voicemail message at the friend’s work number. Within less than a day, his friend had checked voice mail - on the weekend - and answered via e-mail.

There are two important trends to note here. First, happily, multiple communications paths have indeed converged. Second, unhappily, the concept of a weekend seems to have disappeared.

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Network World, 02/14/05

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