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 and more difficult to determine the social etiquette of how you choose to communicate with people. It is generally customary to return a communication from someone in the same medium that they contacted you. For example, a voicemail is generally returned with a phone call, or 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 doesn't know whether to go back to their original communication method, or whether the response was a signal that the recipient prefers the new communication method. Similarly, it becomes commonplace for people to know which communication is preferred by the recipient or most likely to reach the recipient quickly and generate the fastest response.
Randall portrays the difficulty Cueball is facing when communicating with a seemingly irrational recipient. Today's multitude of social networks and communication systems only amplifies the problem. Cueball is leaving a voicemail for his intended recipient to clarify the best way to reach them. He is doing so, he says, because he initially tried texting the recipient which they replied to with one message 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 (presumably to others or in public chat rooms). 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", which is generally something that might happen with a ringing phone call, but is not common with email (people generally don't set their email to to give immediate audible alarms).
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 an alternative form of voice and text to the standard telecom companies.
The owl could also be a reference to RFC 1149 - IP over Avian Carriers, which has been mentioned in previous comics.
The title text mentions a pager, a wireless telecommunications device that vibrates or buzzes when its number is dialed. Simpler pagers can display numbers (usually the caller's phone number) while more sophisticated ones can receives text messages. The redirection of a phone number to a pager further increases the confusion caused by the sheer number of possible communication methods available, as well as adding further tension due to the pager being commonly associated with the 1980s and early 1990s, that is a time when this abundance of communication options was not yet available.
- [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 haven 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.