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I've got one friend who only wants to communicate wall-to-wall on Facebook, one that prefers Skype, several who'd rather instant message (of course, none of them use the same client), some use email as if it were a chat client, and some just won't respond to anything but a phone call, although they never respond to voicemail.

So what's the deal? Who prefers what mode and why? I imagine most of use a combination of modalities, but clearly for day-to-day, run of the mill communication, people have preferences.

(n.b., it was Michael Sperger's article in the July/August CIM that got me thinking about this)

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You may not need to hear all this, but ....the communication medium people prefer varies according to their personalities, communication styles and modalities, whom they're communicating with (and that person's communication preferences and attributes), the nature of their relationship, the topic, any action required after that communication, how long they've been talking about the topic, the stress they're feeling, geographic distance between them, correspondents' fluency in the language used, how well they know each other and how much they like each other, etc.

I like e-mail, the telephone (land lines better than cell phones), and face to face communication. I actually like an old-fashioned memorandum occasionally. I like blogs immensely -- shorter than your average memorandum and people actually stay on the topic long enough to (usually) complete a thought.

I don't like TM'ing, IM'ing, but I do it. I'm not big on voice mail -- giving or receiving. I don't twitter. Yet. Probably will. But it's that "not all that crazy about cell phones" thing I have.

Facebook is a great tool, but mainly for "It's raining in Seattle this morning," and 'I just missed my plane at DFW" one-liners. My sisters and I have maxed out FB's wiki-like attributes while trying to untangle our family history using old family photos. BTW, a wiki is a great tool for deciphering family histories--everybody's got a piece of the right story, and nobody's got it all. Same as intelligence work, eh?
Great question, KM and great post, Ann. As I read Ann's post one of the questions that started to gel in my mind is just how many tools or mechanisms for communications do we have these days? Certainly a wide variety of tools in the toolbox to accommodate a wide array of needs, preferences, personalities, topics, sensitivities and urgency. Let me take a shot at enumerating a list:

* Blog: Love it for quick observation or comment on another piece of media or event that can be communicated one-to-many with the possibility of feedback. Complicated for me because I have my public blog and a blog internal to my company, the latter of which requires both more circumspection and allows me to be slightly more free about "company sensitive" material. For CI material a good way to deliver something quick and timely that builds on previous products with which your audience is already familiar or you can send them to for more information.

* E-mail: the medium I probably use the most if not love the most. Good for one-to-one or few-to-few exchanges that require a degree of permanence. Often over-used because it is the one communication medium that EVERYBODY uses, including one-to-many delivery of CI products.

* Instant Message: Good for quick "Are you there?" and similar communications. Great for immediate one-to-one communications. Often leads to communications via another medium, such as the phone. I can't conceive of using this as a mechanism for the delivery of CI, and maybe someone more imaginative than I can think of something. It is useful for collaborating on a virtual team.

* Text message: Similar to IM but less real-time in nature. Good at sending quick, discrete messages to someone regardless of where they are, and gives them the freedom to respond at their convenience or leisure. Can often lead to a phone call to go in to more detail. Very useful for when you are busy and somewhere you can't speak for some reason. I actually find SMS very useful.

* Twitter and microblogging: I'm already on record as enjoying Twitter. It's great for immediacy of many-to-many communications with a group of friends, teammates or individuals with shared interest. The platform itself is also very useful for CI research purposes (listen to the latest CI podcast to hear Suki Fuller and I talk about Twitter as a platform for bite-sized primary intelligence). I wouldn't deliver CI via Twitter because it is fairly insecure and intended to be many-to-many. The public nature of it also makes it less useful for team collaboration that may reveal sensitive information.

* Wiki: I absolutely love wikis for collaborative projects that require the input of multiple individuals. Wikis work best when the "final" product can be the wiki itself, and I've yet to have that privilege. The wiki will hopefully replace the death march of mailing versions of Word and PowerPoint documents in progress back and forth. SharePoint, GoogleDocs and other similar platforms get you part of the way there.

* Phone:

Voice mail: A medium that, for me, has really outlived any usefulness it may have ever had. It may be a generational thing, but would be so very happy if none ever left me a voice mail again. I have to put down what I'm doing, call in to the voice mail system, deal with an arcane set of menu options-- with NO standardization for what each menu option means on different voice mail systems. I have to write things down if I need to remember them, and I have to take additional time-consuming steps or actions to close out the voice mail's call to action. Voice mail is still a necessary evil because so many people still use it and rely on it, despite the fact that voice mail etiquette is non-existent.

* Phone: I actually like to use the phone for one-to-one and few-to-few interactions that require a significant sharing of detail or continual interaction (clarifying questions, "So what?" etc.). Very powerful for real-time communication when you can't meet face-to-face. Best in doses of between 15 minutes to an hour.

* Video conference: Something I don't use much, but is becoming more prevalent as it moves onto people's desktops (I love my Mac). The desktop version is good for one-to-one real time interaction when you want or need to see another person's reactions. In my experience you can't really use it for extended periods of time. I actually prefer the phone for ubiquity and ease of use.

* Social Networks Wall Conversations. Good for one-to-one and few-to-few discussions where you don't mind that the whole world can listen in. Very similar to Twitter and microblogging in that regard.

* Social Network Private Messages: In some ways better than e-mail because you have a person's personal/professional context along with the message. We're a long way from doing this well, because now it usually takes the form of an alert in your e-mail that necessitates you go to LinkedIn, Facebook or what have you to interact. Look for social networking to be more integrated with other communications media going forward.

Just some quick thoughts. Other communications vehicles? How do you use these and other tools?
Hi August - something I experimented with (once) over the summer was Seesmic - the video blogging service - it cross-posts to Twitter and can also auto-post to your blog (if you've got your XML-RPC key).

I had ordered one of the new ASUS EEE 901 PCs for travel and it had a video camera integrated so tested it out with better than expected results (I'd nuked a hard-drive on my previous primary travel laptop so vowed not to spend more than $600 or buy anything other than an SSD) - here's a link to the blog cross-post:

Anyhow, I see a lot of applications for personal broadcasting with tools like Seesmic but as you'll see from my video, one might want to shave and/or comb your hair before attempting a first recording.


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