Informal media

10 – 20 years ago, appearing on media (TV, radio) was mostly a formal thing. There was the inevitable combination of scripting, planning, wearing a certain type of clothing and talking a certain way which would form the end result. I’m not talking just about interviews, but also comedy specials, commercials, dramas and the news.

Of course this formal format still exists, but now there’s an alternative which emerged both from necessity and the evolution culture towards the acceptance of informality (necessity as in it’s difficult to keep up appearances for a 3 hours podcast being live streamed).

A more relaxed, informal style makes us look more human. It makes people more open and real. Freestyling instead of following a script is much less predictable and has the potential to reveal intimacy that would otherwise be buried under formality.

Services die, protocols survive

Slack* and Discord do everything better than IRC does. Easier to use, more features, better usability, no computer jargon. Almost any IM software beats email in everything. Nowadays only technical people use FTP to transfer files online.

Services always seem die at some point. Think of the websites and software you used to communicate twenty years ago or ten years ago? ICQ was my first IM program and while it’s still technically alive, it’s not something anyone I know uses anymore. Microsoft’s Messenger is mostly dead. The early king of social media, MySpace, fell into irrelevancy and relaunched in 2012 as a music-social-media-something-something platform.

Protocols however, last from decade to decade. I’ve used IRC since 1998 and while there has been a significant dip popularity, it’s still going strong. As obsolete and confusing email can be (think “Re:Re:Re–” and nesting 10 mails deep), it’s still by far the biggest and most popular form of electronic communication in the business world.

Of course some services last longer than others. Right now it’s hard to see giants like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp going away anytime soon. But once they do, I’ll still have a dusty RasperyPi running irssi in the corner.

Disclosure: I’ve never actually used Slack, just heard the hype.

P.S. is a lovely relic

I often use postscript in my emails. From a modern technological standpoint, using postscript doesn’t make much sense. I can easily edit previously written paragraphs. It was invented when writing letters involved parchment, ink an quivers, when re-writing a long letter would have been impractical.

Postscript provides  a wonderful escape, or excuse to end my letter with something that’s not exactly a part of the original message but doesn’t really warrant an entirely new email either: “P.S. Could you send me the new login details?”. Or it might be something totally unrelated: “P.S. Is anyone from your team coming to the orientation on Saturday?”. Also, it’s a great attention getter for one liners that would get lost in the text body: “P.S. IMPORTANT! Make sure you do ABC before enabling XYZ!

P.S. I always forget a cold gets worse before it gets better. My to-do list goes on hold indefinitely and will be replaced by Netflix, chocolate chip cookies and green tea.

“Beam me up, Scotty”

I have to correct a tragic misconception about Kirk’s communicator from Star Trek (that little box Kirk and Spock use to call the Enterprise from the planet’s surface).

It always gets compared to a mobile phone because modern phones are much smaller. It’s become a future prediction gone wrong, much like flying cars or food in pill form. However, people don’t take in consideration what these devices actually do: one relies entirely on a massive network of antennae and the other singlehandedly messages an orbiting spaceship thousands of miles away. Personally I think they got it wrong, but exactly the opposite way. That communicator should probably look more like a Mobira Cityman than a flip phone.


“Are you still there?”

I use a lot of Skype in my work, both regular and “Skype for Business”. Anyone who has used Skype before, knows that every now and then the connection between callers is bad and the voice cuts out. If it cuts out mid-sentence, it’s easy to recognize as a technical glitch. But sometimes it happens in between sentences and you’re facing total radio silence. After a few seconds you wonder out loud “Are you still there?” to which the other party either responds or doesn’t. You hit the red button and start a new call.

I don’t know exactly when the change happened, but now Skype also cuts out the mic when the line is perfectly good. Once neither of the participants is talking, there’s total silence. Especially in Finnish communication culture, it’s normal to have lengthy silent moments during conversations and I find myself asking again “Are you still there?” to which I get a prompt reply. I feel frustrated and a bit silly.

I’m guessing this feature was introduced to reduce bandwidth consumption, but it has an adverse effect on (my) user experience. A simple solution would be to add an option to Skype which would automatically play faint static noise in the background as long as the connection is good and nobody is talking.


I love Instagram stories

Stories are probably the best feature ever introduced to Instagram. For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, stories are those short videos and pictures that stay up for 24 hours before they’re deleted.

There are three big reasons why I love stories:

  1. I try to keep my Instagram accountclean” of pics of what I ate or blurry videos. I solely use it to showcase the better, high quality pictures I take. Stories allow me to post content that isn’t really worthy of a picture or a video share, but still something I want to promote.
  2. Stories are optional. I can post twenty stories a day, and nobody has to go through them in their feed. On some social media accounts (especially Facebook), I’ve even had to unfollow certain people who constantly spam meaningless, low quality posts that end up filling my feed.
  3. I love the concept of having something up for only 24 hours. I have no pressure in creating content that I know will be gone the next day.


I almost never let a Skype message go by without replying at least “OK” to it. A quick reply takes almost no effort or time from my part, but it gives my colleague peace of mind that they’ve been heard. It might seem pointless, but I like to think it makes a difference.