Targeting Communications

We have so many choices for communication that it’s easy for us to communicate in the wrong way, in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

Strange GrafitiI doubt I’m unique in the variety of places that I interact. When I write something I try to think about the different groups that I’m wanting to communicate with and to hone my message to fit that group.

At a high level the groups fit a bit like this:

  • Twitter: This is quite a broad constituency, but it’s mainly the people that I work with. I tend not to write about personal things because of this. I do send updates about my blog to twitter, but they generally fit with that constituency as well. Twitter is my primary update location, if I’m going to update my status anywhere it will be on twitter. I have been trying to tone down the volume a bit recently.
  • Linkedin: Although I’m quite active on Linkedin I don’t write very much. I mainly use it to keep in contact with where colleagues and former colleagues are up to. I could send automatic updates from twitter and other places here, but I don’t.
  • Facebook: Nearly all of my interactions on Facebook are personal ones. There are some colleagues who I have as friends but mostly my interactions are with people outside work. As well as updating and commenting I’m also likely to use Facebook for instant messaging and messaging communications with those who I know use Facebook. I also send my twitter updates to Facebook.
  • Google+: Well, next too nothing really, I feel like I’m still keeping a watching brief. I sometimes post a link to my blog. Most of the people in my circles are work people. Google+ has not really taken off with my outside work friends.
  • Email: I use email all day every day but try to keep the communications as tightly targeted as possible. Most of the time I avoid reply-to-all, but occasionally get caught out, and try to reduce the distribution list rather than grow it.
  • Blogs: I run two blogs because I write about different things. This one is mostly about things that I’m thinking about from day to day, I’m not very targeted in what I write, but people seem to accept that. The blessings blog is about, well, blessings. A few people read avidly, but most people find information via search (>65% of my visitors are new each month).
  • Skype: Skype plays a minor part on my communication regime. It’s sometimes get used for instant messaging communications and sometimes for video interactions with the family.

I think that’s most of it, but if you want to know more my about.me is a reasonable place to keep up to speed with what I’m contributing to.

I wondered whether other saw things in a similar way so I’ve talked to a number of people and many of them seem to be seeing themselves having similar persona to these.

With these broad collections in mind I’ll target different places based on what it is I am writing.

I also make assessments on the length of what it is I am going to write. This isn’t very elaborate, most of the time it’s a simple question – short or long? If it’s short I’ll try and constrain it down to the 140 characters of twitter, if it’s long it goes here on this blog. That is, unless it’s really one-to-one communication and that’s what I use email for, still. I don’t see that we have a suitable alternative to email for this type of communication just yet.

Communication is such an important thing that we do I think it’s vitally important that we do our best to communicate in the best possible way.

I seem to have written a lot about communications recently:

Email is broken (and my embarrassment)

I thought I would connect together two things that are in the news this week:

I’m not going to give much more comment than to point out that if in any other arena 70% of something was clear rubbish (and much of the other 30% was less than valuable) we would be up in arms.

  • If 70% of the music I listened to was hiss – I wouldn’t listen.
  • If 70% of the TV that I watched was white blur – I wouldn’t watch.
  • If 70% of the post coming through my door went straight in the bin – I would ask the post office to stop delivering.
  • If 70% of all of the words in all of the documents I read where rubbish – I’d throw the document back to the author (something I do have to do from time to time).

And that’s not even accounting for all of the inappropriate use of email.

This is the point where I have to admit to a classic email mistake last week which, to a certain extent, just demonstrates the brokenness of email.

We run relaxation days at work where someone comes into the building, takes over a meeting room, and provides massage and other relaxation services. We get invited to these events via email.

For some reason I clicked on reply-to-all rather than just reply.

This resulted in me sending an email to the whole of the building, several hundred people, with the immortal words:

"have you got any slots left for back, neck and shoulder massage?"

You can imagine my embarrassment.

I’m with Thierry, let’s find better ways of communicating.

Please make me one of these: Universal read count

Crossthwaite ViewsI see information in many streams, email, IM, twitter, RSS reader, etc. Unfortunately my brain isn’t good enough to remember everything that I have already read so I regularly find myself going to the same piece of information more than once.

Within each stream I’m unlikely to go back more than once because I get visual indicators that I have already read it. The main problem is between streams. That’s not to say, though, that people won’t send me the same piece of information more than once in the same stream.

I’d quite like a service that handled the read status for me, across all of the streams.

I should get a visual indicator that a link in twitter points to the same content as the blog post in my RSS reader, and they should both show anything that I have already consumed from a browser. Oh, and while I’m at it, it needs to do that across any one of the devices that I’m likely to use, and it needs to handle shortened urls.

My RSS Reader (FeedDemon) does a reasonably good job of keeping the read count in-synch across devices, but nothing between streams.

What I am looking for is to be able to mark parts of the Internet as “read”.

I’d also like this status consolidation capability to be searchable, especially by date. I am reasonably good at remembering when I read something, but not so great at remembering where I read it.

I’m sure there are a load more functional requirements that I would surface if I had time to think about it, but for now, this will do.

Has anyone done anything like this?