A number of readers have taken pokes at me for my recent Writing Letters post. Interestingly enough, since the time I wrote that post, I’ve picked up another pen pal. The post, in case you haven’t read it yet, makes the point that most forms of communication have a purpose, or are at least a bit fun to employ. As long as I have correspondents, I’ll continue to write them letters. It’s something I look forward to doing now each Thursday night. There is something quite nice about receiving letters in the mail and I don’t relish ever giving it up.
It was while I was reading some reader e-mails that I came across another form of communication in the ComputerWorld article entitled, “Telegram not dead STOP Alive, evolving in Japan STOP.” Interestingly enough, in the country where the telegram was first sent, Western Union stopped sending telegrams in 2013. The final telegram was sent on July 14th. Perhaps someone should mention to Western Union that the Japanese have a thriving telegram business and suggest we follow their model. It’s hard to see someone else take over a technology that we created through innovation and hard work.
The point is that there is something to be said for older forms of communication, even those that aren’t particularly practical today. Although I can make a strong case for writing letters, the arguments for continuing to use telegrams, except for the pure pleasure of sending one, are a bit weaker. Even so, it’s interesting that the Japanese have continued to make them work. The difference seems to be one of desire and, of course, innovation.
My one, and only, telegram turned out to be of the singing variety. Fortunately, the fellow who delivered it had a pleasant voice. You can still find places that will deliver a singing telegram for you, complete with the tchotchke of your choice (mine came with balloons and a letter from my wife, telling me she loved me). As a high speed form of communication, the telegram’s days are done. We have all sorts of other ways to accomplish the task now. However, getting a telegram could still be viewed as quite special.
There are many other interesting forms of communication. I’ve never had anyone hire a skywriter for me, but you can still find them online as well. I imagine more than one fellow has relied on skywriting to propose; although, it never occurred to me to try it. Nothing quite attracts your attention though like a message written in a clear blue sky—assuming that the weather is accommodating.
As an author of technical books, I spend a great deal of time looking at communication in all its forms: verbal, aural, visual, and other forms. I once spent a month researching the tactile vocoder—a device that allows its wearer to hear through the skin using vibration. Imagine that you’re deaf and the tactile vocoder makes it possible for you to hear again, even if you don’t have actual ears. So, it’s not too unusual for me to look at communication both old and new to see how it’s being used today and whether it might not be employed in some other manner. So, yes, I still write letters and I’m still rooting for the telegram, but I’ve also looked into odd devices that help people communicate in amazing ways. Communication, in all its amazing forms, is something you do from the day you’re born until the day you die. Let me know about your view of communication at John@JohnMuellerBooks.com.