Once upon a time, people had limited options for exchanging information with one another. It’s probably hard for younger students today to imagine a world where you could only communicate by actually talking directly to another person, face to face or via telephone.
Now we have what can feel like limitless options to transfer information from one person to another. A wide range of disparate channels currently facilitate our chatter, from texting or Skyping with one person, to posting notes via social media that have the power to simultaneously reach everyone we’ve ever met.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at what constitutes communication in the modern age, and explore the ways that technology continues to alter how we talk and listen to each other:
- We can communicate faster and more cost-effectively. If you’re in the same room with someone, there’s certainly nothing faster than just opening your mouth and talking. But in our global economy, many of the people we need to communicate with are in different locations. Technology allows us to easily connect with people worldwide using our choice of forums. We don’t have to wait for a stamped letter to make its way across the miles or rack up a big long-distance phone bill (as was the case not that long ago); instead via the Internet we can instantly reach almost anyone whether through email, instant message, social media, or countless apps. As the speed of communicating has ramped up, costs have been dramatically reduced.
- We have access to more information. Information overload has become a reality, with the Internet providing much more knowledge at the click of a mouse than could even be imagined in the past. This means there is much more data that can be communicated about any topic than was previously possible, limited only by our own ability to find, absorb, and store this information. As a result, savvy communicators have learned to turn toward specific technology solutions to help them harness, organize, and manage the data deluge. The Spreadsheets app from the multi-platform office solution WPS Office, for example, allows users to more efficiently contain and categorize different types of data using commonly used formulas. The app offers built-in tables and cell styles that simplify data organization and presentation.
- We communicate with a different style. The nature of communication has changed along with its increase in speed and volume. Mobile devices that fit in our pockets have tiny keyboards that make expedient communication desirable; hence an increase in the use of shortcuts, symbols, abbreviations, and new words that get the point across with fewer characters. (Think about Twitter, which has a 140-character minimum for every communication.) You can see this effect everywhere, from how we text to how we actually talk, as the new lingo has a way of making its way into the mainstream even when we aren’t typing it. WPS Office responded to this user demand by creating a list of more than 50 keyboard shortcuts to help users stay concise and save keystrokes.
- We have more choices of how to communicate. As the communications playing field grows more complex, we have access to even deeper layers of connection with others. You can now collaborate with others in your work group using advanced collaboration tools that make it as easy to work with people in remote offices as when they’re right next to you. WPS Office, for example, has office productivity tools that allow teams to instantly share information. Users can save their work in the cloud or on their smartphone, laptop, tablet, or desktop. The tools give teams access to each other’s edits and comments on the same document or spreadsheet, facilitating communication and collaboration toward common goals.
While technology is often seen as the culprit behind a decline in face-to-face talking, we have to give credit to technology for opening up many new avenues for expanding the comparatively limited communication options we had available in the past. We can still talk to each other in person (and should make the effort to do so whenever possible to avoid becoming over-reliant on our devices)—but we can also be thankful for the ability to “choose our channel” when communicating today.