What “dropping my land line” really means

February 28, 2010

I’ve had yet another set of friends indicate they will be “dropping their land line.” Their reason? Well, it just makes financial sense, they claim. Why pay for a dedicated home phone? They can get all the features they need and then some as part of their cell plan. (After all, a mobile phone is pretty much a necessity these days. So it’s the immobile phone that’s really optional, apparently). The financials aside, mobility is indeed a huge motivating factor as well. They’re rarely at home, so my chances of catching them are slim. With a cell phone, I can probably always reach them, right?

Now clearly, they’re in the majority these days, with cell coverage, features, and pricing making the dedicated home phone more of a novelty. But I’ve noticed a strange irony amongst all my friends who now have only cell phones: I can never get a hold of them. I used to call their land land, and if they were home, they’d answer. If not home, I’d leave a message, and they’d call me back. But now, I almost never talk to them. I call, and the phone just rings… or goes to voicemail immediately.

I make excuses for them. They’re driving through a school zone. They’re out for a kid-free romantic dinner. Or at a doctor’s appointment. Yeah, that’s it. Who would want to be interrupted during their appointment with the proctologist or OB/GYN?

But the truth is, after time after time of this, I’m beginning to wonder if the mobile-only movement is more annoying than convenient. Why aren’t they answering this time? Is it just me? Or is it that the nature of having mobile-only contact means that they’re always receiving calls while they’re in the middle of being out and about — already busy, with the constantly unexpected ringing phone conflicting with already present pressures of space and time in public? Is it possible that having a mobile phone actually makes it less convenient for the receiver of the call and simply more convenient for the caller? Is it really a selfish, one-sided convenience which inevitably breeds the use (and perhaps even necessity) of “silence” features and voicemail?

I’m not going to let this post devolve into a rant against the break down of the social structure due to modern technological developments, but I am growing convinced that “I’m dropping my land line” means “you’ll likely never talk to me ever again without my voicemail screening you first.”

Promoting tech smart employees

February 23, 2010

Everyone once in a while I stumble upon — or in this case, get sent from a friend — something that reminds me of why I became passionate about seeing the average technology consumer’s base knowledge level increase. In How IT-Smart Is Your Organization, Susan Cramm provokes readers to think about how voluntarily being more “IT smart” could make an entire corporation more effective. Her article is focused specifically on IT, but I think the lessons can be extended to technology in general within the corporate space. Part of why I champion basic computer skills is for the same reason Ms. Cramm desires to see IT engagement improved: it would be one of the healthiest and most efficient investments. In my observation, having most employees even modestly more tech savvy would eliminate a lot of overhead on basic support and streamline productivity in this digital age. I’ve certainly observed my share of organizations where many employees don’t know how to un-dock a laptop or organize files beyond moving them around on the computer’s desktop. It’s another reason why I’m convinced there’s a market for core skill training on PCs and digital technology in general. Of course, my goal isn’t to turn everyone into an engineer, but rather into modestly skilled, well informed technology consumers. I think it’s doable and necessary, and I’d sure like to witness the result of boosting basic technology proficiency in just one large organization.