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Finding True Meaning In Electronic Communications

I noticed a recent editor's note from a colleague who works at one of BS&T's sister publications, InformationWeek, where he cites an article from yet another online publication, Slate. In my colleague's editorial, he poses a question to readers about whether they were impressed when they rec

I noticed a recent editor's note from a colleague who works at one of BS&T's sister publications, InformationWeek, where he cites an article from yet another online publication, Slate. In my colleague's editorial, he poses a question to readers about whether they were impressed when they receive an email that says "Sent from my BlackBerry" at the bottom. He says that according to the Slate article that such a message shows the recipient "you're on the move but still chained to work." The InformationWeek editor, however, feels the messages are a complete waste of time, even bordering on free ads for BlackBerrys.This got me thinking. First, let me say that I do agree that we work too much. I'm sure mine will not be the first or last article you will read on how "wired" Americans are these days. A device such as a BlackBerry is definitely a helpful tool for the busy, on-the-go businessperson, but it so easily becomes a ball and chain if one isn't careful.

But my next point is that I actually like to see someone send me an email with a note saying "Sent from my BlackBerry." Usually when I get an email sent by a handheld, it's very short and curt in tone with odd abbreviations. Seeing that it was sent via portable device indicates to me that the person sending it understands this fact and is assuring the recipient that they are not being rude or unprofessional.

Email is great in whatever form. However, I cannot tell you the number of misunderstandings I've experienced that have cropped up from emails that weren't worded just so. It's often difficult to convey to people the true meaning of what you're trying to express electronically, whether for business or personal purposes. I guess that's why we have emoticons. :)

Apparently, the Slate author goes on to say that getting a message that says "Sent from my iPhone" is more a matter of showing off. Well, at this early juncture in the iPhone's existence, maybe there is a bit of show-and-tell involved. However, I'm curious to see just how prevalent that kind of message will be in the coming years as more people adopt the iPhone and use them for business.

I don't know. For some, seeing "Sent from my (insert device)" at the bottom of a five-word email may be perceived as meaningless, but to me, it's a way of maintaining the kind of personal touch we so often lack today. Maybe I'm a bit old fashioned, but I just think a little courtesy goes a long way in a world where we often deal with one another via a computer screen. Sure, there's still the telephone, but there's just something appealing about email.

All this makes me wonder if people ever had these problems in the days when they actually hand-wrote letters to one another.

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