[Oct 2021 update: most of what I wrote here still holds true today, except my back-then cringe-worthy writing. Keeping this post up for posterity, and fun.]
A Brief History of the Evolution of Communication.
A few days ago, I was bored to death in a coffee shop. Mainly because everyone was talking out loud.
But they were talking.
Not texting (except a few nerds), but TALKING. Voice talking.
It’s kinda the natural way we communicate. I won’t get into the details of how communication started, you can read it about it here when you’re done reading this, but evolution dictates that what started with cave paintings should end with thought message passing, not texting and writing, going through sound communication.
The Great Alexander Graham Bell changed the way we communicate with sound, but, we took a “Historical detour”.
A “Historical detour” in Communication
Modern time Telegraphy started with Telegrams. Voice channels we not that cheap back in the 19th century. Actually, they were none until June 2nd 1875. Commercial ones started a few years later.
My point is, as we progressed towards the Telephone and long-distance voice communication, came the Internet. Again, with another sort of Telegraphy: E-mail. Few can argue that sending E-mail is faster and cheaper than making a Skype call. But in our Era of 4G and Fiber optics Internet?
E-mail was a transition to more “sophisticated ways” of communication.
But we got STUCK. Instant Messaging tools became evolved around text-based-communication. A few ones discarded this (Viber, Skype, Google Hangouts, Tango, …). But the main traffic remained texting and writing. Question is, WHY.
Sending texts in the 21th Century and the Virtual Attributes Theory.
SMS, E-mail, Whatsapp messages, Facebook comments. What do they all have in common ?
They’re all text based, and data cost is low, moreover, they keep the sender shielded.
Social Media personas are being created, curated, and developed every day. They’re based on virtual attributes: username (name in case of Facebook), profile picture, a few statuses and messages, maybe some posts shared, articles liked … One can pretty much create and curate a virtual persona in no time. Create his own Virtual Attributes in no time. They act like a Mask (c.f. Building Virtual Communities).
What’s interesting enough is the fact that most users are ashamed of their voices. An experiment I did a few months back suggested that almost everyone listens to themselves the same way you listen to yourself: “I sound weird“. Everyone sounds weird to themselves. Except maybe singers (“I sound amazing”).
Bringing the fun back to Social : Talk & Comment
But Audio is fun. Playing with your voice is fun. But mostly
“Emotion is carried less by the linguistic meaning of a word than by the way in which the sound is communicated.”
Plainly, your voice can persuade and communicate better than what you write. Think of it as reading a book vs listening to an audio book; Often the latter comes with greater emotions and more imagination.
When Whatsapp launched the Push-to-talk feature, that’s all I used onward. I found it Awesome. And my buddies found me hilarious. I’m not.
24Hours ago I launched an experiment, called: Talk & Comment. It’s the Push-To-Talk ported to Facebook comments. <Note: I started it working on it back in that crowded coffee shop>.
It got somewhere like ~500 users and 4000 voice comments. In 24Hours.
Of course that’s not huge. I didn’t create a fuss about it (as it’s still an experiment).
Delivering Happiness, one comment at a time.
But the interesting part was the way people interacted with it. It was highly unpredictable.
They were having Fun again on Facebook. Either by making silly sounds, and sending real laughs, or arguing whether or not God existed. Overall, it was a new experience (especially that it integrates seamlessly with Facebook, and everyone can read the voice comment even if not having installed the extension).
Change won’t be coming overnight. Not even in the next month, or few months. But my bet that it’s coming. Embrace it :-)
You can download Talk and Comment for Chrome here. A future post will go into technical details and challenges.
Comments and feedback are highly welcome, as always.