The multiplication of communication channels

This is a really nice description from Craig Lambert’s Shadow Work of a problem I describe in a forthcoming paper as the multiplication of communication channels. From loc 3038-3054:

The mushrooming number of communication channels spins off another type of shadow work. At one time, to reach a friend, you could send a letter or postcard or phone him at home. Period. Then, as work and personal lives began to overlap more, it became OK to call him at the office, if only for brief chats. Next, email arrived, opening up another means of contact. Then mobile phones, then texting. I won’t even bring up Instagram. With this plethora of channels available, consider what happens if you need to reach your mate, say, on some urgent matter. Perhaps you want to take her to a play, and on the theater’s website, you see two choice tickets available. 


But many others are angling, which means someone else could snap up those two choice tickets any time. If you want to spend that night in the orchestra section with Larissa, you had better reach her, pronto. What happens next is a fascinating new species of shadow work: the all-media parlay. You phone Larissa’s mobile, home, and work numbers, leaving voicemail messages at each. You send emails to her home and work mailboxes. You top it off with a text. You have just composed and sent six communications through different channels to get one message to one person. The good news is that two decades ago, such a multichannel assault was impossible. The bad news is that this electronic D-day landing just gifted you with several minutes of shadow work. And a few more on the other end for Larissa, as she opens, hears, deletes, and, with luck, responds positively to one of the half dozen redundant invitations awaiting her. With more luck, in time to buy those tickets.

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