This week I want to talk about presence and immediacy. Often, when I chat with knowledgeable people in the field about what's ahead for our industry and what the key drivers of growth will be, I hear about presence technologies and instant communications. The idea is that we will all know where we all are at any given time and be able to reach out and touch one another instantly.The simple act of paying attention can take you a long way.Keanu ReevesDear Vorticians,Me quoting Keanu Reeves, star of The Matrix and the widely recognized modern classic Point Break? I never thought I'd live to see the day.Yet, these pointed words from the taciturn actor are darned appropriate to what's on my mind this week, which is a distinct break from our recent discussions about incumbent telcos and purveyors of junk e-mail. Thanks for all the notes on those topics. I'll be sharing some in upcoming editions.This week I want to talk about presence and immediacy.Often, when I chat with knowledgeable people in the field about what's ahead for our industry and what the key drivers of growth will be, I hear about presence technologies and instant communications. The idea is that we will all know where we all are at any given time and be able to reach out and touch one another instantly. Push to talk. IM one another. Call forward or follow. Location awareness. Maybe we will all wind up with RFID tags embedded in our scalps.Is it just me or does all of this scare you? Are you convinced that presence and immediacy will benefit us - personally, as employees, as society? Read my cautionary tale and share your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.A good friend of mine works for a very large technology company. For a variety of reasons not worth explaining here, he and his many colleagues have become nomads, tossed from their fixed offices to work from their homes. He's having a bit of trouble adjusting to this cultural shift - liking the freedom and the relaxed atmosphere, but deeply missing his interactions with colleagues. He lives in a very rural community and his only living contact for most of the day is his German Shepherd and, maybe, the deer the dog loves to chase.But the interesting part of the story relates to instant messaging, which my pal's company has adopted and rapidly deployed to support communications among these far-flung workers. Initially embraced with enthusiasm by him and his colleagues, the technology has become a nosy, dreaded interloper in their work lives. In short, they have rapidly grown to hate it and my friend and many of his colleagues consider it to be an insidious productivity killer.Co-workers feel compelled to share the most inconsequential thoughts. They "check up" on projects and requirements constantly. They ask for help on things they ought to be handling themselves and send upward-leaping monkeys all day. (Upward-leaping monkeys are responsibilities that employees or co-workers shift from their backs to yours.) Managers who can't see their employees ping them with IM to make sure they're at their desks. The little sound that accompanies a new message elicits groans and an incoming insight can mess up information being entered into a spreadsheet, among other things.My friend relates that there is a humorous side to all this. During conference calls with colleagues he loves to hear the multiple IM bleeps on co-workers' machines as they blast out notes in response to a particularly silly management message or edict. He's turned off IM to get some work done, which has drawn reprimands from a manager and the more intrusive co-workers who think their every insight must be savored afresh.Have you ever tried to work with IM on? I have and it can drive you nuts. I see my son try to do his homework with a constant stream of poorly typed prose flowing in from friends. I've also seen IM's spread around my own office. It's not unusual as I pass through the halls to see people toggle off IM in the hopes that I won't see them using it. I want to send out a note: Hey, I know you have IM. At least save yourself the trouble of hiding it. Oh well, maybe you're saving us on the phone bill.In fairness, I've seen the other side as well. Our editors find IM darn handy in communicating with our own far-flung reporters. That cuts down on those "where the heck is X?" crises right before deadline.But do we really want more presence awareness and more instant communications? Will we all become ADD (Attention Divided Disorder) sufferers? I fear so. What are your fears? Share them with me at email@example.com.Thanksp.s. I'm writing this on the second anniversary of the 9\/11 attacks. I remember well how readers of this Digest shared their thoughts, grief and worries in the days after that tragedy, and how our dialogue helped me come to grips with the events of that day and afterwards. Thanks once again. My condolences to any of you who were touched directly by 9\/11. This is a painful time.