I’ve been interested in different forms of communication for some time. It’s part of what makes social networking so interesting to me. I’ve been reading about others’ experiences too. Of course there’s Tantek’s CommunicationProtocols page, which inspired my own Communication Protocols section on my main page (and, probably, @seanbonner’s PreferedMeansOfContact). Trevor Creech recently challenged me on my Twitter usage, calling it “Twitterfail” (in reference to efail). I would like to discuss some of they ways I’ve started thinking about communication.
First, a tip from my own main page: If you find a solution, from me or elsewhere, blog it. Someone else may benefit. I have come to think of my Twitter and Ma.gnolia accounts as blogs (especially since they began to manifest their updates in the actionstream on my main page). If I find an interesting tidbit, or have a potentially interesting thought, I tweet it. This lead, one day, to >20 tweets in 24 hours, the condition which Trevor complained about. In response, I have tried to consider first if something is really useful at all before I tweet (I don’t want to be the cause of a signal/noise problem) – but I have also started including better context in my tweets. Interesting links go to Ma.gnolia.
Searchability has become key for me. This is one of the reasons I love my IM setup – everything anyone says to me, whether I’m online or off, at my computer or not, is archived in Gmail for easy search. My tweets and blog posts are also searchable – in fact, if you just say “singpolyma” or link to me in a blog post, there’s a huge chance that I’ll see it.
When it comes to factors like immediacy, lifespan, audience, bandwidth, and sychronity they are all important, but are different for different messages. If I’m setting up a meeting or working on a project, immediacy and bandwidth are hugely important (thus, face to face or IM are best). If I’m discussing something of interest to me, asychronity, lifespan, and audience are the most important factors (thus, mailing lists, forums, Pibb, and IRC are best). There is no “perfect” communication form – all have their place.
I have requested that people use post/page comments for debugging/feature requests on my projects. This is because a comment is almost as good as blogging something (it can be used by others who may benefit) and is searchable. It also reduces the chances that I get asked for the same thing a bunch of times – others can see what is being discussed (which, incidentally, in the same reason I love GetSatisfaction). Pages + comments are almost as good as (in fact, in many cases, I feel are better than) a wiki.