The Modern Translation of Writing
In our current digital age, we often think of the concept of writing as existing in black and white. We think: print vs. digital. But in actuality, we need to think of things more broadly because communication has always laid its seeds in and grown its roots from the grey area.
If we look at society from an economical standpoint, we can see that people are changing their businesses to reflect an interlocked system of management in hopes of avoiding the stigma of a “top-down” hierarchy. Unfortunately, the case remains unsolved. Micromanagement is still a daily conflict that team leaders must face because their employees do not want to trust each other how to do their jobs. When we remove the clear barriers between levels of work culture, suddenly it becomes unknown how another’s duties will affect our own ability to perform.
So what is the solution? On the surface, it seems impossible to remove difficult people from work culture altogether, because we know there will always be someone with an opinion they hold in a higher regard than yours. And beyond the workplace, we know that difficult people are going to be encountered much more frequently.
I am confident that by refining what we mean when we say difficult people by looking at how we use language, we will also discover the paths of communications we need to take in order to be successful. Ultimately, language evolves communication and vice versa, with confusion arising as a result of it. In other words, we are not difficult people and we do not deal with difficult people. There is something else going on, and through investigating our modern communicative tools, we can see what exactly that is.
1. Live Chat or Instant Message
The Purpose: To mimic in-person conversation by sending a message to the receiver right away
The Advantage: Reach a person immediately
The Challenge: Not as immediate as it seems because the incentive is also to be responded to ASAP
2. Posted Messages
The Purpose: To address another piece of writing directly, either online on someone else’s post (photo, link, article, etc.) or in print in a similar fashion (such as community boards)
The Advantage: Organizes the audience response
The Challenge: Not always posted with the highest accuracy of organization because the person who puts up the post cannot judge the way it is read by others
3. Text Messages
The Purpose: To be able to reach someone anywhere with the expectation they take their cell phone everywhere
The Advantage: Can get ahold of someone directly in hopes of an immediate response
The Challenge: Not necessarily immediate and more easily misinterpreted than instant chat messages
4. Phone Calls (Voicemail, Cell, Home, Work)
The Purpose: To talk to someone right away in order to avoid misinterpretations of text
The Advantage: Offers tone of voice and direct contact
The Challenge: Cannot expect the other person to be able to take your call when you are able to make it and various phone numbers/locations to reach a person
The Purpose: To reach someone directly without the expectation they will respond right away
The Advantage: Take time to draft an organized message without waiting days/weeks like regular mail
The Challenge: Receiver can easily ignore
6. Posted Mail (Snail Mail)
The Purpose: To give a paper copy message or ship an item to someone
The Advantage: Allows for a physical copy of the message
The Challenge: Takes the longest to send your message
7. In-Person Conversation
The Purpose: To talk directly to a person
The Advantage: You gain access to all forms of communication (voice, language, body)
The Challenge: The interference of your surroundings. No channel is perfect.
8. The Fax Machine
The Purpose: To send a paper copy message to another organization directly
The Advantage: Faster than direct mail and allows you to send documents that are not already digital
The Challenge: Replaced these days most often by scanning and emailing
Refining the Path: 8 Steps to Solutions
From each of these 8 forms of communication, their purposes, advantages and challenges, the grey area discussed earlier becomes clear. The grey area here accounts for the changes in accessibility, not format. Print and digital will always have their values independent of each other, their own purposes, advantages and challenges. It is likely we will not see either of them disappear anytime soon.
We see from the obsolete form of communication through the example of the fax machine vs. the scanner and email that ease of access is our number one priority in the modern world. If one is already using their email as a primary means of communication in tandem with a work phoneline, a fax machine only adds another element instead of simplifying things. Although simple, by looking toward that kind of solution we can gauge what channel is best for the information we wish to communication.
The question therefore remains: Who are we trying to reach, and what is the best way to reach them? It seems like a simple question to ask from an audience perspective when you are trying to sell a larger idea, but it must be taken into account for each message we deliver.
In an ideal world, with everyone successfully discovering the best ways in which to channel our messages, we would have much less room to make excuses like, “I’m sorry, my system must have deleted it,” or, “There must be some sort of glitch.” Instead of blaming our issues on the soaring innovations of technology, we will have to start taking responsibility ourselves because we know better.
Messages Are More Than Writing
The translation of writing in the modern world, then, is not from one language to another—as we encounter this much more regularly now in our daily routines than ever before in history—but from one channel to another, changing the message as it needs to be fitted for its new platform. But we should also be aware and keep in mind that in the modern world, the translation of writing and messages is not just through text, and text no longer just means words. We also need to consider other things, like images as messages, video games as texts, and vice versa for both examples. Although keeping it simple for now is helpful, there is always more to discover when we think outside the box.
What do you think? Leave a comment.