1254: Preferred Chat System
|Preferred Chat System|
Title text: If you call my regular number, it just goes to my pager.
As more options become available for communication, it becomes more difficult to determine the social etiquette of how to communicate with others. It is customary (or at least rarely incorrect) to return a communication from someone using the same medium as the initial contact. For example, a voicemail is generally returned with a phone call (perhaps resulting in another voicemail), and an email with an email, etc. However, sometimes people respond through a different channel, such as texting a response to a voicemail or emailing a reply to a text. This can create confusion that Randall is pointing out, because the recipient may be unsure whether to go back to their original communication method, or if the response was a signal that the recipient prefers the new method. Similarly, it becomes important for people to know what type of communication is preferred by a recipient, or most likely to reach the recipient quickly and generate the most useful response.
Randall portrays the difficulty Cueball is facing when communicating with a seemingly irrational recipient. Today's multitude of social networks and communication systems amplifies the problem. After several misses, Cueball is leaving a voicemail for his intended recipient to clarify the best way to reach them. He initially tried texting the recipient, to which they made one reply on the instant-messaging service Google Talk (commonly called GChat). This is unusual because instant messaging services are usually used to engage in longer conversations than one message. Cueball further is confused because the recipient, although silent on Google Talk, continues responding on IRC. Cueball then attempted to communicate by email, but the response came on Skype, another instant messaging service that features voice and video chat along with text. The recipient mentions that the email "woke [them] up", implying that he or she has e-mail configured to make an audible alert, possibly by being forwarded to a cell phone.
Cueball clarifies that he appreciates that the recipient is very quick to respond, but his confusion stems from his inability to determine the proper medium to use. As he finishes his voicemail, an owl flies towards him carrying a written message. This appears to be a reference to owl post, which is a form of communication in the Harry Potter lore which itself is presumably based on the real-world usage of carrier pigeons. The owl post message indicates that the voicemail was received, and suggests using Google Voice next time, which is yet another form of voice and text communication, one that bypasses the standard telecom companies and gives the user a range of controls such as which device is called depending on who is calling or what time of day it is, or to simply ignore the call altogether.
Randall seems to have an interest in bird-related communications; RFC 1149 - IP over Avian Carriers has been mentioned in previous comics.
The title text mentions a pager, a low-tech, low-cost wireless telecommunications device that beeps or vibrates when it receives a message. Simpler pagers can display numbers, usually the caller's phone number plus a couple of additional digits, while more sophisticated ones can receives text messages. The usual intent of a page is for the recipient to call the number back or, today, to tell you that your table is ready. Pager use peaked in the 1980s and 1990s, but declined thereafter as cellular phones became ubiquitous. There can be absolutely no need for this hyper-connected individual to use a pager, and having your own cellphone forward messages to your pager makes almost no sense.
A possible suggestion is that they are intentionally using such an abundance of communications options to, perversely, make it harder to have a conversation with them. So far, it seems to be working.
This comic is closely related to the later one, 1789: Phone Numbers
- [Cueball stands, talking on his cell phone.]
- Cueball: Sorry for the voicemail, but I'm confused about how to reach you.
- Cueball: When I text you, you reply once on GChat, then go quiet, yet answer IRC right away. I emailed you, and you replied on Skype and mentioned that the email "woke you up".
- Cueball: You're very responsive - I just have no sense of how you use technology.
- [An owl flies into the panel.]
- Cueball: ?!?
- [The owl perches on Cueballs's head. It has delivered a note to Cueball.]
- Note: did you try to call me? use my google voice number next time.
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