We’ve been talking a lot about the future of communication lately and uncovered an interesting changing tide in the technologies we use. It became evident today that over time, trends in technology have slowly shifted back and forth between synchronous and asynchronous modes of conversation.
A quick check on some vocabulary/definitions:
Synchronous Conversation – occurring in real time… all parties involved in the conversation are present and have the ability to contribute, react and respond
Asynchronous Conversation – occurring any time… all parties involved in the conversation have access to the conversation but are not communicating instantaneously
There are benefits and disadvantages to both and throughout the course of history technology has battled back and forth shifting the mix of how we communicate. Some are just fads, some completely revolutionary in the way we talk to each-other:
Cyclical evolution isn’t anything new, we float back and forth in all kinds of trends. Function vs. Form, Hi-Fidelity vs. Good Enough, Ownership vs. Access, etc…. These trends seem to go in strange boom and bust phases but at any given moment, we definitely lean heavily on one vs. the other.
Think about your daily life, what form of conversation you rely on most on an average day? I float back and forth depending on the context, but I’m firmly planted in the “any time” column for a majority of my conversations these days (fewer, more meaningful “real time” conversations…more “any time” conversations with more people). Heck, I bet you can think of an example today where your mobile phone (“Any Time”) distracted you while you were in a meeting (“Real Time”).
Consider the benefits and disadvantages of each conversation type:
At a quick glance, it’s easy to see value in each conversation type….. I would argue that our time is becoming such a scarce resource and we have a desire to stay better connected to a growing number of people, it’s no wonder that asynchronous communication is dominating much of our lives.
As a person who feels partially responsible in shaping the way people communicate in the future, I continue to wrestle with this problem. What does the future hold?
Will we shift back toward a heavier dependency on “Real Time” conversations again or are we forever more dependent on “Any Time” conversations?
Will advances in capture, storage and search allow you to complete digitize and index everything you say to someone, giving “Real Time” conversations a record and making them more practical for daily task management?
Can we continue to bring the benefits of real time and any time conversation together to bring the next generation of communication technologies to market?
Big questions…few answers…a lot of opinions and ideas. We’ll continue brainstorming (in a synchronous manner by the way ;-)