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Who Needs Voicemail Anymore? with Michael Schrage

Tech expert Michael Schrage calls voicemail "an anachronism" whose time has come and gone. Could e-mail be next?

Michael Schrage: I’ve been very interested in voicemail because, like many people, you know, when it first came out I immediately hung up the phone. I didn’t want to leave a message. And then, of course, I became upset when people didn’t have voicemail so I couldn’t leave a message. And then much to my shock and horror, I became upset when the person I had called answered the phone because I didn’t want to speak to them. I just wanted to leave a message. And I thought that voicemail was a very interesting genre of communications. But as we went forward and as corporate voicemail took hold and then as texting and other forms of communication, e-mail, et cetera, and mobile devices materialized. It became clear that voicemail was, deservedly so, an anachronism. It was more and more work, less and less efficient for the value derived. And so I think going forward one of the most interesting things that we’re going to see is how people have different technology communication styles. Increasingly I believe you’re only going to have conversations, voice conversations with people who you know and you’re going to use texting and e-mail to set up a conversation before you have a voicemail, or, excuse me, real-time conversation with them. I think voicemail is an anachronism.

I don’t think people want to listen to 15 or 20 messages. I think they’re happy to scan 15 or 20 texts. So I think we’re in a stage where basically you’re going to tell a lot about somebody’s personality whether they want to communicate with you via e-mail, via text, or they want to talk with you on the phone. And the last quasi-useful thing I can say on this is this is really a demographic phenomenon. I don’t think there’s anybody I know under the age of 30 who listens to their voicemail. And I think most people over the age of 50 are just too tired to go through their cues of voicemail. Voicemail is a great idea whose time has come and it’s gone. So Coke pulling the plug on their voicemail system, I don’t think people will care. In fact the irony is for the majority of people they already have a voicemail system. It’s through their mobile phone provider. Corporations are going to get out of that kind of a business. And I’ll go one step further. I think the era of corporate e-mail is going to vanish too because I think people are using LinkedIn and Facebook, Yammer and other “enterprise social media platforms” to manage interaction. Yes, I think everybody will always have an e-mail address, but in terms of time invested and time spent I think within the decade e-mail is going to sound and smell suspiciously like voicemail as a platform for where work gets done.

Directed/Produced by Jonathan Fowler, Elizabeth Rodd, and Dillon Fitton

 

Tech expert Michael Schrage calls voicemail "an anachronism" whose time has come and gone. Could e-mail be next? The author of The Innovator's Hypothesis explores different modes and styles of communication looking toward the future.

Remote learning vs. online instruction: How COVID-19 woke America up to the difference

Educators and administrators must build new supports for faculty and student success in a world where the classroom might become virtual in the blink of an eye.

Credit: Shutterstock
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • If you or someone you know is attending school remotely, you are more than likely learning through emergency remote instruction, which is not the same as online learning, write Rich DeMillo and Steve Harmon.
  • Education institutions must properly define and understand the difference between a course that is designed from inception to be taught in an online format and a course that has been rapidly converted to be offered to remote students.
  • In a future involving more online instruction than any of us ever imagined, it will be crucial to meticulously design factors like learner navigation, interactive recordings, feedback loops, exams and office hours in order to maximize learning potential within the virtual environment.
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White dwarfs hold key to life in the universe, suggests study

New study shows white dwarf stars create an essential component of life.

NASA and H. Richer (University of British Columbia)
Surprising Science
  • White dwarf stars create carbon atoms in the Milky Way galaxy, shows new study.
  • Carbon is an essential component of life.
  • White dwarfs make carbon in their hot insides before the stars die.
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"Forced empathy" is a powerful negotiation tool. Here's how to do it.

Master negotiator Chris Voss breaks down how to get what you want during negotiations.

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Personal Growth
  • Former FBI negotiator Chris Voss explains how forced empathy is a powerful negotiating tactic.
  • The key is starting a sentence with "What" or "How," causing the other person to look at the situation through your eyes.
  • What appears to signal weakness is turned into a strength when using this tactic.
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Octopus-like creatures inhabit Jupiter’s moon, claims space scientist

A leading British space scientist thinks there is life under the ice sheets of Europa.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SETI Institute
Surprising Science
  • A British scientist named Professor Monica Grady recently came out in support of extraterrestrial life on Europa.
  • Europa, the sixth largest moon in the solar system, may have favorable conditions for life under its miles of ice.
  • The moon is one of Jupiter's 79.
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How to catch a glimpse of Comet NEOWISE before it’s gone

Unless you plan to try again in 6,800 years, this week is your shot.

Image source: Sven Brandsma/Unsplash
Surprising Science
  • Comet NEOWISE will be most visible in the U.S. during the evenings from July 14-19, 2020.
  • After July 23rd, NEOWISE will be visible only through good binoculars and telescopes.
  • Look in the northwestern sky below the Big Dipper after dusk while there's a chance.

UPDATE: NASA is broadcasting a NASA Science Live episode highlighting Comet NEOWISE. NASA experts will discuss and answer public questions beginning at 3PM EST on Wednesday, July 15. Tune in via the agency's website, Facebook Live, YouTube, Periscope, LinkedIn, Twitch, or USTREAM.

Before last evening, July 14, 2020, the easiest way to see Comet NEOWISE — the brightest comet to zoom past Earth since 1977's Comet Hale-Bopp — from the United States was to catch it about an hour before sunrise. Now, however, you can see it in the evening, where it will remain for until the 19th. This is a definite don't-miss event — NEOWISE won't be coming back our way for another 6,800 years. It's the first major comet of the millennium, and by all accounts, it's unforgettable.

NEOWISE just got back from the Sun

Comet NEOWISE is named after the NASA infrared space telescope that first spotted it on March 27th. Its official moniker is C/2020 F3. It's estimated that the icy comet is about three miles across, not counting its tail.

NEOWISE is now heading away from our Sun, having made it closet approach, 27.4 million miles, to our star on July 3. The heat from that encounter is what's given NEOWISE its tail: It caused gas and dust to be released from the icy object, creating the tail of debris that looks so magical from here.

As NEOWISE moves closer to Earth, paradoxically, it will be less and less visible. By about July 23rd, you'll need binoculars or a telescope to see it at all. All of which makes this week prime time.

An evening delight

star constellation in sky

Image source: Allexxandar/Shutterstock/Big Think

First, find an unobstructed view of the northwest sky, free of streetlights, car headlights, apartment lights, and so on. And then, according to Sky & Telescope:

"Start looking about one hour after sunset, when you'll find it just over the northwestern horizon as the last of twilight fades into darkness."

It should be easy to spot since it's near to one of the most recognizable constellations up there, the Big Dipper. "Look about three fists below the bottom of the Big Dipper, which is hanging down by its handle high above, and from there perhaps a little to the right." Et voilà: Comet NEOWISE.

Says Sky & Telescope's Diana Hannikainen, "Look for a faint, fuzzy little 'star' with a fainter, fuzzier little tail extending upward from it."

The comet should be visible with the naked eye, though binoculars and a simple telescope may reveal more detail.

You may also be able to snap a photo of this special visitor, though you'll need the right gear to do so. A dedicated camera is more likely to capture a good shot than a telephone, but in either case, you'll need a tripod or some other means of holding the camera dead still as it takes a timed exposure of several seconds (not all phones can do this).

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