Using a Phone



Patrick is a mid-40 year old geek with an undergraduate degree in mathematics and a master's degree in Information Systems. Nothing he says here has anything to do with the official position of his employer or any other institution.

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35 Responses

  1. Avatar James K says:

    P.S. -> it’s better to send me an email anyway.

    It certainly is, phones are a terrible way to communicate at the best of times, and should be used only when e–mail, text messages and face-to-face conversations aren’t feasible.Report

  2. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    Patrick: The party you are blogging to is not in service at this time. Please erase your blog and try your blog again later.Report

  3. Avatar Will Truman says:

    I hate talking on the phone. Just hate it. Bluetooth has helped that a little bit, but it’s just never been my thing. My wife is the same way. It’s funny that the earliest part of our relationship unfolded over the phone. We first met in person, but did not live near one another.Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

      The phone is an invention of the devil. I could write a whole post about this.

      At one point at my last job I went on a 5 minute rant about how phones are stupid (mostly due to high cohesion and synchronicity suck) and one of my coworkers said, “Aren’t we glad this is the only guy left on staff who knows how to operate the phone switch?”Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        I wouldn’t go that far. The phone was a useful bridge until better technology could become available.

        The better technology is now here, though, so we can stop now.Report

        • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

          That was all part of the Devil’s insidious plan. He knows about the network effect and social inertia, the bastard.Report

      • Avatar George A. Chien says:

        According to Google, this comment is the only occurrence of the phrase “synchronicity suck” on the whole, entire internet.


        I did look of “high cohesion” on Wikipedia, but it seemed as far as I could tell to be a good thing.

        Clearly pastoring has its own lexicon, and the overlap with computer programming is very limited.

        However, I concur that the phone is an instrument of the devil. I will go to fairly ridiculous lengths to avoid having to use it.Report

        • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

          High cohesion and low coupling are two big wins in systems design.

          I misspoke, I should have said, “low cohesion and high coupling”.

          Basically, we’re likely not to be talking about just the thing we need to talk about, and we both are captives to the conversation until its over.

          For “chat time” this is fine.

          For efficient communications, it’s horrible.Report

  4. Avatar JG New says:

    Good points. I would but add that most people on cell phones should realize that the phone will do the work. Stop yelling. Being forced to hear the trivial details of your life is not fun, or even interesting, to me.Report

  5. Avatar Fish says:

    To me leaving a voicemail always felt like a far greater commitment than just sending an email, which carries a certain fire-and-forget quality. Perhaps this is because when you make that phone call, there’s always a chance that someone will answer. Or perhaps this is because I had a commander who insisted that “email is not contact.”Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

      Telephone communications are synchronous, with zero latency and very high coupling.

      If we’re having a telephone conversation, you need to be on the line at the same time I am, we both need to be devoting quite a bit of attention to the conversation, and if something comes up that causes a lag (i.e., “I need to check with Marital Unit on that and get back to you”, “Hold on a second, the mechanic needs to talk to me,”), both parties are stalled until the lag is resolved.

      Instant messages are synchronous, with variable latency and lower coupling.

      If we’re having an instant message conversation, we both need to be at the keyboard at the same time. They’re a lot like a phone conversation except I can typically do something else if a lag occurs, as the device is readily multi-tracking, whereas with a phone it’s hard for me to call somebody else or browse the web or whatever if you’re on the line.

      If we’re having an email conversation, it’s asynchronous, decoupled, and of variable latency. You tell me what you need to tell me in the amount of detail that is necessary for me to consume, and when I can I read it and I respond back to the parts which require a response.

      For certain types of decision-making processes (particularly ones with a short time interval that require only one other person), the phone is great.

      For certain types of decision-making processes, (complex ones with a long time interval), email is a kojillion times better – not the least reason for this (aside from suitability to the type of decision) is the electronic paper trail/log.*

      Voicemail is insidious, because it attempts to turn conversations that are good to have on the phone into conversations that are much better had through text. The entire advantage to the phone is for types of conversations/decisions that require timeliness and synchronicity. Voicemail is the complete opposite of that.

      * assuming both parties know what they’re doing, which is rare.Report

  6. Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

    I miss the rotary dial. I miss the operator. I miss the three digit home phone numbers. I miss 1955. Modernity sucks.Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

      I knew too many people with zeroes in their phone number to miss the rotary dial.Report

      • Avatar George A. Chien says:

        At my grandmother’s summer house on the lake, back in the early sixties, it was still the phone that is a wooden box mounted on the wall with a trumpet thing to talk into and an ear-piece on a cloth-wrapped wire.
        There were 25 or so houses in the local exchange, and they were just numbered 001 – 025, so you could dial them direct. But it was a party line so anyone could listen in, and some felt free to join in the conversation (they were all neighbors, after all.)
        But if you wanted the outside world you had to get the operator to connect you–and sometimes one of us kids would have to be sent to her house to knock on the door and ask her to put on her head set and get back to work. But if she was out shopping, or in the bath, or napping, you were just out of luck.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      Damn kids with their damn rock music! Get off my lawn!Report

    • Avatar dexter says:

      According to Wiki, the average hunter/gatherer worked an average of twenty hours a week hunting and gathering and if you added preparation it went to around 40. It’s been downhill since we started farming.
      I was at my uncle’s house in Oklahoma when they got a phone. It was a many people party line and all those Okies would get on the phone at the same time. It was like a party with no clean up afterwards.
      The down side to all that was taking a bath in a wash tube in the winter. Little tiny tube that went to my shins and I could almost sit in. Summer was better because we could bathe in the creek. The down side to that was the water moccasins.Report

      • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

        Yeah, it’s been downhill but the life expectancy has gone up a tad.Report

        • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

          Pat, you might wanna factor in the fact that the miracle of modern science has allowed more kids to survive measels, dyptheria, etc. It may be that there’s simply more of us, or used to be before commie-dems made abortion a sacrament.Report

          • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

            Do you *want* another 2 billion people on the planet?

            Just curious.Report

            • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

              Let’s see the commie-dems have butchered fifty million or so since Roe v Wade. I wonder how many would have turned out like Einstein, Jobs, Ford, Edsel, Mozart, etc…we’ll never know.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                > Let’s see the commie-dems have
                > butchered fifty million or so since
                > Roe v Wade.

                Now Bob.

                I’m pretty sure that not all of the abortions in the United States have been requested by women who are card-carrying commie dems.Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

                Pat, I thought the modern perceived abortion as a good thing. A woman exercising her rights. I would think the commie-dems would eagerly take responsibility for abortion as a whole.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                I see people exercising rights all the time that I think they ought to have, but not use. See Phelps, Fred for one obvious example.

                Such is the pact, Bob. Such is the pact.Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

                My pact says nothing about butchering babies in the womb. That’s something the NAZI’s and Commies would do..and, oh yes, Margaret Sangor.Report

              • Avatar wardsmith says:

                Fortunately, Steve Jobs’ mother opted not to have an abortion and put him up for adoption instead. Otherwise we wouldn’t have the – wait a minute – iphone! See Patrick could have been happier the other way around, no Jobs, no iphone.Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

                Ironically, I don’t any of his products.Report

        • Avatar dexter says:

          Sad but true. Aren’t flush toilets and penicillin wonderful.Report

      • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

        Dexter, here’s the key: the man out there ‘hunting’ was the dude. He ‘hunted’ and that was it. When he brought the meat home, he laid down, either to rest or plow the old lady. Then she dressed the kill, saved the skin, cooked it, and served it up to the old man and kids, and in-laws, and others in the sept.Report

  7. Avatar kenB says:

    I largely come down on the same side as most of the opinions expressed here so far, but it should be pointed out that one major drawback of all text-based communication is the absence of tonal and facial cues. Many shades of meaning are lost if the writer and/or reader aren’t attentive to the impoverished context.Report