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drinkme | Epistolary

2011.07.16
Cincopa video hosting solution for your website. Another great product from Cincopa Send Files.

Uncle Don,

When I first taught a web class, at Irvine valley college, in 1995, only ONE student had an email address . . .

Communication is very important. Most people are not so good at it. Particularly relationship management. I am working on improvements all the time. Still not so good as I would like. Nonetheless, I work at it because it is important to me. Relationships come in many flavors; personal, professional, etc. The various social networking sites that have jumped up (facebook, linked in, etc) are satisficing for certain kinds of interactions; but not for others.

Some relationships endure across time (e.g. family). Other relationships are cyclic (e.g. tax time). Still others are one offs (e.g. fixed length project). There are levels of importance; so triage is often needed. There can be deadlines. There can be persistence conversation. There is more to be said but you get the gist.

There are MANY mediums of communication; each with strengths and weaknesses. Face-to-face interaction (facetime); epistolary activity (write letters and drop in post); books and periodicals; painting, music, poetry; smoke signals; radio; and television are all interaction modalities that predate computers and computer networks. Certainly these modalities (and others not mentioned) remain a part of the human communication landscape. With the advent of computers, computer networks, and the public internetwork some of the extant modalities were adapted (e.g. letters become email) and other modalities have come into being (e.g. websites, instant messaging).

Indeed, as you say, keeping track of shit can be a challenge. Fortunately, this is a general problem faced by many. There are a variety of strategies to help with this problem. The particular solution for a given situation is going to depend on a variety of factors; defining these factors is a an exercise in requirements engineering; where requirements describe the problem to be solved; needs and constraints. Given a set of requirements, there will inevitably be shitload of possible solutions. The particular solution for a particular problem is expressed as a ‘design’. And if the design adequately satisfies the requirements; the next bit is to implement the solution (build out the design). Then you test it a bit. Make some refinements. Do some training (if more than one person is going to use it). Then you deploy and do a cut over.

You have an information management problem. You need an information management strategy. And, ultimately, an information management system. You already HAVE an info mgmt system, but if I read what you have written correctly, it sucks.

It just so happens that I build information systems; some of which deal the very complex information sets and are deployed in large organizations. I know a LOT about this stuff. This stuff is FUN for me – and – I LOVE YOU – and the thought that I can maybe help you in your life would bring me great joy. Which brings me to the next talking point: why the kcuf haven’t you talked to me about this before? Answer, of course, is that we had not a viable medium of communication and this is the first I have heard of it. You didn’t know you should ask. I didn’t know you had issues. Drat.
I will return shortly to your info mgmt problem. First though I would like to make a few remarks about computer-mediated-communication (CMC) and computer-supported-cooperative-work (CSCW).

CMS a modality of communication that is mediated by a computer. I am looking at my computer screen. You are looking at your computer screen. Could be email. Could be a document. Could be instant messaging. Could be video call. Key factor is that the computer screen contains all the context. All sorts of contextual information that we use in face-to-face communication that is absent in CMC. Lots of research being done, btw, trying to find ways to get that contextual information back in . .. emoticons  being one well known example. This is huge area of research but I’ll not go further. I just want to explicitly make the point that our communication is mediated by the computer (and network, of course).

CSCW stand for Computer Supported Cooperative Work. Some prefer to say Computer Supported ‘Collaborative’ Work. Same idea though. Distributed teams and individuals working on projects together. Again, there is a mountain of research with many theoretical and practical outcomes. Example being shared whiteboards or a video conference. Lots of CSCW tools and platforms.

NOW – it just so happens that in a proximate environment – i.e. people working in the same office – a prominent form of casual and informal interaction – sometimes called ‘backchannel communication’ – is important, (sometimes) useful, and opportunistic. Backchannel stuff is chat around the water cooler; a quick question called out to a passerby; light talk with your neighbor. SO – if I happened to be in your office around the water cooler with regularity; I would have LONG AGO been aware of your info mgmt problem. I am not in your office though and we NEVER have casual conversation. (I have called your home landline a number of times but no one has ever picked up and never have my calls been returned. So I stopped doing that.)

SKYPE is one means of supporting casual interaction across the network.

I wish everyone would play. Of course, I am making an assumption that folks love me and would not mind some casual interaction in the same way that I love YOU and am keen for the casual interaction. Within the family, I am in regular touch with only Aunt Pat and my mom Carolyn. My dad used to be available but he let it drop and hasn’t come back up. Chris and Lisa have Skype but they do not make It a regular habit of bringing skype up when they are at computer. Don’t’ know about Stacey. Nicole still has no internet. Sheesh. I have seen them on skype but they never talk to me – obviously skyping elsewhere. Kim and Steve could not skype on old computer but they have a new computer and they could. But they don’t. Here is the thing, when you are sitting at your computer, have skype launched. If I am here, you’ll see me. If you are there, I’ll see you. No obligation to interact. But the possibility is there.

Which brings me to my pair of closing remarks. You people are my FAMILY. Not only am I directly related, I LIKE ALL OF YOU and ADMIRE ALL OF YOU. My life is richer when our relationships are living and not just a memory. You are all smart. Interesting. Fun. Etc. And most of you spend chunks of time at the computer. It is EASY. We are all such a lovely bunch. I think my mindset is slightly different; Frank, Carolyn, Steve PLUS Bill, Pat, Kim Steve PLUS Don, Diane, Stacey, Chris, Lisa, Henry. Anyway, your lives, do as you please Myself, I will keep reaching out because I love you all so very much.

LAST REMARK: Don, we need to talk. I can help you. Substantively. Guaranteed.

Sheesh; long enough. I’ll end here.

peace,
swt

Steven Walter Tuttle
swt@drinkme.com
stuttle@eng.uts.edu.au
skype: smokydoke

“Never permit a dichotomy to rule your life, a dichotomy in which you hate what you do so you can have pleasure in your spare time. Look for a situation in which your work will give you as much happiness as your spare time.”
Pablo PIcasso
1881-1973

From: Don Tuttle [mailto:tuttle.ds@gmail.com]
Sent: Friday, July 08, 2011 2:42 AM
To: Steve Tuttle
Cc: Tuttle Chris; Jim Tuttle; Tuttle.pat; Tuttle Stacey
Subject: Hello

Hi Steve- Sorry I haven’t been very communicative in the last few months. It seems like email, instant messaging and all that stuff is taking over my life. I’ve found that my clients, many of them have rapidly transitioned to email in the last year- I’m talking about not just young, tech savvy clients, but middle age and older clients. They send me emails, make inquiries by email, and in general, communicate much more frequently- and expect responses. Some of them regularly respond so quickly to my emails, its scary. E-mail is great for swapping docs back and forth, especially different iterations of the same basic doc, but managing the whole email system, for someone like me, is daunting. Losing stuff in the system, remembering what I said to people in prior emails, retrieving something obscure that appeared in some prior email… stuff that techies take as childs play- for me, it represents an organizational challenge.

This year they added more IRS regulations to tax return preparers. As a result, some went out of business, and one of them sent her entire clientele to me, resulting in added work. So the added clients and additional regulations made it was a tough tax season work-wise.

Anyway, thats my excuse, and I’m sticking to it.

I have had Skype installed on my home computer for some time now, but haven’t faced up to figuring out how to use it. That program seems to take up an inordinate amount of my computer’s resources. I understand Aunt Pat uses it frequently. She seems to have the time and inclination to figure it out, and I also understand that she has some techie come in occasionally to show her how to use stuff and she takes copious notes. If I had the time, I’d do the same

Sunday, I’m taking off with Bill and your dad on “Tuttle Trip 9″ to boston, then up the coast to St Johns, then across the bay of fundy to Prince Edward Island,Halifax, and then back home. 3500 miles in all. This past weekend, Dianne and I went to Niagara Falls for a 3 day getaway.She’s big into casinos and slot machines. So I explore the falls while she gambles- It works out well.

Chris and little Henry (who is 4 in august) were in town a couple of weeks ago for some fun. Little Henry has a “scooter bike” a two wheeler with no pedals, which you propel with your feet. Anyway, Henry just figured out how to balance the thing, so Chris, Henry and I took a two-mile trip downtown via skateboard (Chris), skooterbike(henry) and trot ((grandpa). Most of it was downhill, and it was a total hoot. We spent a couple of days at the Lake- weather was lousy, but good enough to play some Croquet on Bill’s custom croquet court which he’s got set up in front of, and next to the barn. Your dad, who will be 70 in August, is a master croquet strategist, and Bill’s not bad either. Bill, by the way, has been promoting a croquet “event” open to all his neighbors, which is happening just about now.

Yesterday, I received an email from Chris telling me that He and Henry were up in Montana somewhere hanging out with friends in some mountain cabin. Apparently he’s figured out how to make a living while taking a lot of time off.

This summer Stacey’s been setting a new record in terms of being busy on weekends. She needs a social secretary to keep track of the baby showers, weddings, parties, campouts, etc. Plus her boyfriend just bot a house, and she’s been helping him get that all set up.

First week of August is the Clarklake run. Last year I won my agegroup unofficially, because they lost my ticket.-There are so few runners in the 65-69 age group that winning is not much to be proud of. I expect that I’ll be getting an I-pad or something equivalent in the next few months, and when I do, I’ll make a serious effort to get skype up and running.

Hope you’re having a good winter.

Don


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Categories : Epistolary