Why text messages are lousy for tasks and events

By Gavin Davies on 19 August 2012

Text messages are now ubiquitous…

Text messages are now ubiquitous. They’re useful for folks like me who are actively frightened of answer machines. They are quick to send, cheap, and asynchronous in nature. This makes them well suited for low-priority messages.

Where they are utterly dreadful, however, is for tasks and events. “Let’s do lunch, Tuesday at 1.30pm at Jamie’s”. Sounds delicious! That message, however, requires the recipient to open hir smartphone’s calendar and make an entry, with potential for error. It’s also hassle, and irritating.

Similarly, “can you add a rule to the firewall” is a terrible text message. This arrives in a smartphone, and you don’t necessarily have an easy way to assign a flag to that message, to mark it for followup, or add it to a task list. My old E71 has served me well, but I get somewhat anxious when people text me things they need me to do as I cannot easily mark these messages.

It may be that the new breed of Android/iOS smartphones have integration between text messaging and the calendar. If they don’t, they really should – surely someone’s done an app for this? Even assuming that there is a suitable, slick, well integrated app, you have no guarantee that everyone is running it – I work in a hi tech industry, and I don’t have a posh phone, and I’m in the minority but I’m far from the only one*.

Therefore, I’d encourage everybody to use appropriate mediums for communicating tasks and events. Shared calendars using things like iCal integration, Trello boards, tickets on issue tracking systems like Jira or Redmine – these are much more appropriate communication streams.

*I’m not totally behind the times, I recently bought a Nexus 7 tablet, which has been something of a revelation! Fantastic bit of kit