Once Upon a Time

This post may not be exactly what you expect to see on this site, but I thought it would be fun to share.

I am reading “Love at the Time of Cholera” by Gabriel Garcia-Marquez and I came upon a fun paragraph that talks about the way telephones were used in the past. The events take place some time in the beginning of the 20th century somewhere in the Caribbean, most likely Colombia.

“Two days later, however, he received a letter from Fermina Daza in which she begged him not to call again. Her reasons were valid. There were so few telephones in the city that all communications took place through an operator who knew all the subscribers, their lives, their miracles, and it did not matter if they were not at home: she would find them wherever they might be. In return for such efficiency she kept herself informed of their conversations, she uncovered their secrets, the best-kept dramas of their private lives, and it was not unusual for her to interrupt a conversation in order to express her point of view or to calm tempers.”

We have all seen the early operator-managed phones in the movies. But I still remember the amusing experiences with mingled phone conversations from my childhood in Bulgaria. I would be on the phone with a friend when we would hear some other two people talking because the lines got crossed. Imagine that happening today in business communications – with all the privacy and confidentiality issues!

With the fast pace of technology development, I am wondering how shocking or amusing our grand-children will find the way we communicate today. Will they have more or fewer “oops”-type situations than we ever did? Will they accidentally broadcast an opinion in the social media when it was only intended for a private chat (I know I’ve typed on Twitter instead of Sametime when both screens were open)? Will their capendars regularly show their doctors’ or hairdressers’ appointments on their status updates? Will they become easier prey to unlawful behaviour as they consciously or unconsciously (think GPS presence updates) notify the world they are “@Starbucks on 59th & 3rd”? What kind of compromising information will video calls reveal until we learn to better control our communications environment?

No matter what, it will be fun to watch the world and more specifically communications evolve. Maybe I will see you in a virtual reality next time?

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