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    • We use Slack a lot where I work. So I was very curious to find out what this article was all about.

      "But an increasing emphasis on new technology to moderate our workdays isn’t necessarily making our work better or making us more productive. If wielded poorly, it can even make it worse."

      Delving into the article further...

      "Much like the ubiquitous open-floor plan, this type of software is meant to get different parts of a company working together, to break down hierarchies, to spark chance interactions and innovations.

      In practice it can be hell.

      The addition of yet another communications tool can result in a surfeit of information."

      So I looked at the business Slack account where I work. I personally only joined less than 20 Channels. Most of them I rarely use. But when I checked which ones I could add, I was shocked. I stopped counting at 200 when I reached the letter G. These were all public channels for a medium sized business.

      "Keeping up with these conversations can seem like a full-time job. After a while, the software goes from helping you work to making it impossible to get work done."

      I don't use all of my Slack channels on a regular basis and am not inclined to add more. I don't think I even want to look to see what the rest of the alphabet looks like!

      This article has a lot more fascinating information. Too much for me to put in a single Cake Conversation but worth reading and thinking about.

    • I once tried to recruit an engineer from Netflix to Cake and he lost interest when he decided Cake looked too much like Slack, which he had come to hate. He said on his teams at Netflix, they had decided Slack was a productivity killer.

      I have a love-hate relationship with Slack. I love that it notifies us immediately at Cake when someone posts for the first time. Great for catching spammers fast.

      I hate that, unlike email, there is an expectation that you should respond immediately. I may be in the midst of writing something with a deadline that requires immersive concentration and Slack will start clacking. If I stay on mission and do the important thing, then the @chris notifications start.

      It's like now everyone in the company can text you.

    • Also, if you do turn off notifications and come back to a channel, there are like 5 conversations to catch up with in the back scroll, all intertwined and hard to tell who is responding to whom.

    • I have this general idiosyncrasy to the tendency of blaming the tools. To make the analogy closer to the bone, consider people equating all motorcycle riders to suicidal maniacs.

      I mean, Slack is a tool. For those of us who knows what IRC is, Slack is, effectively, a gentrified version of it, made very convenient for even corporate environments. I, personally, am a great fan (down to only 6 teams on my sidebar for the time being). It has a very long list of pros, including convenience, great integration capabilities, being eminently searchable, etc and so on.

      And people complain about expectations - which is reasonable, but, do expectations get shipped with Slack? No they ain't. Those expectations, just like email etiquette (don't even get me started here :) ), are part of the people's culture. People can and should be educated about such things, preferably at least partially by themselves, but also with some help of the workplace if said workplace gives them the tools. You wouldn't give people chainsaws without at least some training on how to use them [safely], why is Slack, or any other software tool, different?

      For example, I routinely correspond with my family members through a variety of instant messaging means - Telegram, WhatsApp, FB messenger, text messages; and some less instant such as emails, or posts on some common social networks. It would be a source of endless frustration if we cultivated unreasonable expectations around that messaging, and so we do not. We understand that everyone is out and about on his/her own business, and may take an undefined amount of time to respond. If something is truly urgent, we can call (heck, I can drop into the Amazon Echo in my living room and ask my daughter who is playing on the Playstation to come down and help mom to unload groceries, and she can acknowledge without even putting the gamepad down :) ). So, as the popular Irish meme goes, why worry?

      Additionally, Slack not a standalone tool. There's quite a powerful synergy inside our PCs, OSes and software applications. If certain focus is required, turn on Don't Disturb mode and work in peace (it's a single click on a Mac, just Option-Click on the notification center icon in the top right to toggle). These days, you can enable an intelligent autoresponder on your email that would warn people that you only check email twice a day, or a week, if that's what you want to do.

      Having said that, tools are not perfect - there are always bugs, not quite perfect features, service disruptions and the like. But blaming tools for not conforming to preexisting expectations and the necessity to personally adapt to new powerful capabilities is a bit meh.

    • Teaching people to thread their in-channel conversations helps (even though I admit that Slack threads are not ideal)

    • I wanted to implement Basecamp for one of the operations centers I support. It’s project management as well as communications management on steroids.

      The operations center had annual recurring projects. With the software, new team members could read through prior years’ discussions to get up to speed quickly. In addition, tracking key deadlines and deliverables would be infinitely easier and would be visible to all key stakeholders.

      Alas, the budget was tight that year and my suggestion ended up in the waste basket.

    • Thank you, mbravo, great writeup, great perspective. I guess it’s like email and phone: they’re essential, spam and robocalls are a bummer, and once you get to an unmanageable volume, you have to figure out ways to turn the volume down.