This is the age of communication? (Editorial)

"Hello, I’m mmmm, from mmmm,” started the message from a caller asking about editorial opportunities.

After that he left information that piqued my interest, and ended with his phone number — but just then his mobile phone went through another well-timed glitch. “Call me at 905-mmm-mmmm.”


E-mail, phone, fax, couriers who break the speed of light. Never before have business people had more convenient, instantaneous options for communicating. So why are so many messages going astray?

Lesson number one, don’t trust mobile phones.

At first glance, faxing looks like a safe bet. But you have to trust someone to deliver your fax to a co-worker, risk getting a wrong number, or having your document appear on the other side of the country as a black smudge. Plus there’s time spent re-faxing when it doesn’t go through. And again. And even then you’re not safe. A friend working for Ontario’s tourism ministry once spent the better part of two years moving his department from floor to floor a half-dozen times in reorganizations. His phone number changed so many times people refrained from accepting it. Some fax machines never did make it, lost in the halls of bureaucracy, their lonely whines calling out in vain.

But who needs any of that when you have e-mail?

Once you get through the clutter you could be okay. But blocking filters can knock out legitimate messages as well as seedy marketing pitches (not that there’s other kinds). So you never can be sure if an e-mail went through.

And a big “sorry” to all those people whose e-mails went astray the other day when some server system exploded (that’s the technical term, I believe) and lost a day’s worth of messages. We’ve all had that happen.

Last year I couldn’t get through to a San Diego business contact either by phone or e-mail for a week. California fires were threatening, and communications were down. And connections were lost in the blackout that hit Ontario, Quebec and northeastern United States. That covers natural and man-made disasters.

So if your message doesn’t get returned, don’t blame me. Blame the messenger.

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