482 words — 3 minutes read

38 - family whatsapp and other forms of communication

My kids love their iPhones (My daughter even bought herself an iPhone 5 for x-mas). While I (and my wife) do have some reservations about the quite high usage those phones get, it is none the less fascinating to see, how todays kids are using technology. Instead of them learning from me, I start to learn from them. I still have some geek cred with them, because as a long time online user, I know most of the acronyms they use. But still, they are using the communication technology as easily as breathing. My daughter especially is constantly on Whatsapp with her friends and school mates. Homework, going out - everything is coordinated through a constant chatter in the group rooms.

I am not sure, that she is making her home work in the most effective manner (where there is a constant stream of interruptions flowing in), but looking at how I use streaming communication tools like Twitter, I see that what she does is nothing but the logical conclusion of what I am doing when I have Twitter running on the side while working. (The difference, I would like to point out, is that I do consciously shut down Twitter (and Skype and Email and HipChat) when I try to get into the zone, or when pair programming (another great tool for keeping distractions away).

Anyway - today saw the creation of the “FamilyChat” on Whatsapp and my kids are teaching my wife on how to use it. They also strictly insist, that the chat is written in Schwyzerdüütsch, and not the written high german. I am not sure, I want to or can adapt to that…

In other communication news: Stephanie has sort of singlehandedly resurrected the #joiito channel on IRC. I dropped in today, wondering when I last had been there. Turns out - a lot longer than I though - almost 10 years (in 2003). I chatted a bit, but (and now coming back to my take on todays kids communications) IRC in a busy room overwhelms me. Either I’m in it chatting or I have to close it - for me, it’s impossible to be semi-engaged in a chat room. As I had to work on my assignment for the “Introduction to Music Production” class, I soon left the channel to its own device. In a bit of an archeological find, Kevin Marks dug out the one commit I made to JiBot (although I seem to remember, that I did a bit more work on the bot (or another one? Earlier version? Different IRC channel?) at that time.

It will be interesting to see, how the communication habits of our kids will change over the next couple of years, and what will be become “normal”. I have a sinking feeling, that I (or my generation even?) will look at it and say nasty things about it though…

Jens-Christian Fischer

Maker. Musician