The way we communicate has changed a lot on the latest decades. The first email account I had years ago at university was accessed on a MS-Dos system (on a green monochromatic monitor), accessed by commands with no graphics. Then I was exposed to the graphic Internet during University with services like IRC, Chat rooms, Hotmail, Yahoo! mailing services and ICQ. It was a door open to the whole world, not just for chatting with locals.
When the cellphone started being popular among students in 2001 (here at my hometown Monclova, Coah.), sending texts was popular because of the cheap rates and instability of the charging system. Few years later Instant Messaging (IM) became very popular, things had changed recently with other Apps cutting and sharing the IM communications cake.
Nowadays besides just text you can talk in some of the latest VoIP technologies on Facebook Messenger, Skype, Google Hangouts, WhatsApp, FaceTime and so on if you rather using your data instead of just calling on the cellphone the old way. There are more than 2 ways of receiving a call.
With the imminent death of Windows Messenger most if not all of my contacts moved to Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, during those days less people used to send texts because of the price here at Mexico, so they were using and abusing of those instant messaging tools. (Yeah I did it too sometimes.)
After a while of abusing the use of IM I started kind of hating to be always there, well just during working hours and when I was at home, almost always available. I had all my IM accounts set up with Adium for OSX so I could check Windows Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, Facebook Messenger, Google Talk, and Twitter Direct Messages. All at one place so I won’t have to loose time opening or keeping open other programs to be active and available.
I know you could simply get logged off and for not being available. But there were always people who wanted you there to communicate something, and they could get mad if you didn’t answer quick. Some times I had to go out and forgot to change my status, so when arrived there were several conversations going on with questions of why I wasn’t answering, most of them pissed off.
People want you to answer quick, and with the pass of time and technologies it has to be quicker every time.
IM on your Smartphone
With all the IM Apps available on your smartphone this got really intense, people can reach you probably 24/7 365 if you are always alert for your phone’s notifications. But we need to rest, to cut some conversations from work, we can decide when to answer. There’s where the conversations status entered: sent/received/read to make some users more furious and insecure.
The double or triple check notifications that mark that your message has been sent/received/read and probably ignored. That ignited controversy and caused trouble to many, so just cut it here. If you’re on WhatsApp or some others apps alike you’ll probably be still typing to communicate with others.
Why not just calling?, probably because of the price (here in Mexico), don’t have time to call but to send a short text, or series of texts on IM. Writing is probably more informal, so you won’t have to talk personally so you can feel more free. You can hide more emotions on text than with your voice tone.
So text communications dominate almost all our interactions, private and public on social networks, there is text everywhere, typed text on comments, blog entrances, micro blogging, etc. Few probably interact by using a text to speech function or respond by using a tool while driving or busy to type on the screen’s keyboard.
“Machete don’t text”
I like this quote of the Movie Machete with Danny Trejo, where he’s given a cell phone to send a text message but he denies. Many people rather calling than writing, probably because they want to be more personal or they just don’t want to mess with typing small keys on screens like Machete.
I personally don’t text or use data while driving or walking. Well, I’ll stop, park and answer or call if it’s something really important. I’ve tried walking and keeping up with IM conversations, reading and answering and I feel I won’t get anywhere safely half a block. I feel like I’m 50 something or less % on the wheel and the other on the call or text, and there’s where accidents happen.
Smartphone keyboards on all its flavors
Keyboards on our devices had changed a lot, improved, they’re not physical anymore (at least on non Blackberry smartphones). Now they are sort of intelligent predicting what we are going to type next. I’m using Swiftkey a third party keyboard that bypasses the system one, I tried others on Android but that was outstanding for several features like writing in two languages and getting suggestions while on all other keyboard Apps you’re forced to switch from one into another, and it learns your way of typing by connecting to your twitter, facebook and email accounts (freaky but helpful so far).
Keyboards now have the swipe feature, many people like it. You just have to keep connecting letters with one finger to create words (I feel this is kind of slow). Or more futuristic keyboards like the ones that have just two rows and three letters on each key, the thing here is similar to swiping, words are going to start forming until making sense.
Typing future on smart devices
We are getting more and more lazy to write by hand, it feels weird doing it sometimes. You don’t get that suggestion help from a word processor or spelling checker (well you actually do if you learned good orthography). I never was aware of it until now and I’m having a hard time, but working on it.
I feel is hard (if not boring) for newer generations of students to write on paper as almost every body now use a computer or smartphone. Any way is good kids on their first years learn to interact with writing and drawing methods. This is basic. Probably their earlier interaction with tablets may cause some issues. Perhaps tablets and smartphones are the new pacifiers to keep toddlers busy.
What’s going to be like to write or dictate in the Future?
I watched a Spike Jonze movie called Her (2013) with Joaquin Phoenix, about an introverted guy named “Theodore Twombly” who develops a relationship with an Intelligent Computer System called “Samantha”. He is alone and the Operating System (OS) wanted to know what was to be alive and feeling.
Everything starts after an OS update.
This is the best example of what I think could be our communication with others by using text, calls, email, and of course a personal interaction with our operating system, well just be careful to not falling in love with that sweet voice you choose 🙂
On the movie you could see “Theodore” speaking to “Samantha” (the operating system) as if they were on a phone call, the interaction was fluent, human like, fresh, no lag or robotized speech. Just like if you had a living soul into your smartphone or ear device talking as a close friend.
He learned to use the new operating system which was an update from his older and I can imagine more rudimentary interaction, probably something like we are starting to use in 2015, command sentences, and internet searches. Perhaps they were way more advanced 😉
With the new operating system, Samantha took charge of many diary tasks of Theodore. For example she asked permission for cleaning up his email and prioritizing some messages by putting them into folders taking her seconds going thru thousands of emails, something we do (or some of us do) and takes us a while, hours. There are features for automatically filtering them, but nothing way advanced and intelligent as they show on that vision of the future. So why not having a virtual assistant?
I think is going to be like talking all the time as if we where on a hands free call giving orders, having this assistant doing things for you, making calls, writing emails by giving it what you look so it had to figure out what to do to accomplish it by its own thinking and logic. Kind of scary.
Right Now in 2015 we use Siri, Google Now, Cortana and recently “M” (Facebook Messenger), all of this AI technologies have grown and are getting more intelligent by gathering all the information that their users feed them by asking stuff. So far we can set up reminders, alarms, write messages, make calls, ask stuff, ask to receive a reminder when arriving a location. So in the near future this is going to change by adding more interaction and awareness of the computer to make our lives simpler.
I expect something like the movie I mentioned. We are going to have a 24/7/360 always available (if there’s battery) Assistant. We’re going to need discrete free hands devices with good battery, something like Motorola’s Moto Hint (on the right).
Companies still have to figure out how to make better and smaller batteries that can hold power for a day, or just 12 hours. This is going to happen on a matter of time, also AI on our devices. An always listening, self aware assistant that could make our diary routine more easy. An imaginary friend who is going to be there for us.
All this technologies are connecting us more than ever, but at the same time disconnecting us from our surroundings.