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is technology harming communication?

Rory Cellan-Jones blogs in response to the question of whether new technology is helping or hindering communication.

Some interesting points:

  • “Technology is a massive aid to communication, but if it takes away regular face-to-face or direct conversations, then you lose something of the softer edges.” Sir Victor Blank, former chairman of Lloyds TSB.
  • “I do notice that emails are often fired off without any real consideration – they’re also much ruder than more considered communications, so I think they’re inferior.” Lord Rees-Mogg, former editor of The Times.
  • Technology firm Atos has decided to phase out email as an internal communications tool. “Email has become the easy way to communicate but also the lazy way,” says Rob Price, the UK managing partner of Atos.
  • Volkswagen’s Works Council has decreed that the German firm’s Blackberry server should stop sending emails to employees thirty minutes after their shift ends.
  • “Prior to word processors, executives would dictate messages to secretaries and speak on the phone. So the use of technology has improved literacy.” Dr Monica Bulger, Oxford Internet Institute.
  • “A third [student] summed it up for me: “You use social networking and modern technology to arrange meeting people face to face, when otherwise you might not see them for a few weeks – you might not bump into them.” We agreed that new communication technologies provided an addition, not a replacement, for traditional means.” Rory Cellan-Jones


Andy Moore

I work as Head of Global Communications for the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES), having previously worked with Compudava (now Endava) in Moldova, building web applications, and for Wesley Management, working with small businesses and charities. I have a passion to see intelligent application of digital technology to serve the Church and mission. Married to the lovely Ruth.


J. Nathan Matias

Quite often people frame this as email versus face to face, but in reality what we end up with is a mix of media which we often use in parallel, checking our phones while having face to face conversations or talking on Skype while responding to an email.

Perhaps the key issue at hand is less which technology we’re using as it is just who are we paying attention to, and how much attention are we giving them in respect to the medium with which we’re connecting? c.f. Sherry Turkle’s Alone Together.

Andy Moore

Thanks Nathan – that’s a helpful observation. And I really must read ‘Alone Together’.

Hope you’re well and enjoying the course?

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