Friday, September 04, 2009

Baseball parent communication: is it getting easier?

Naively, one would think it's getting easier to communicate with the parents of a 10 yo baseball player. After all, we have so many more ways to communicate than we did in the dark ages. Let's count them ...

1910 (2)
  • Letter
  • Handout (person present)
1950 - all of the above plus (4)
  • Home phone (both parents)
  • Work phone (father)
1990 - all of the above plus (11)
  • Home phone (father) + answering machine
  • Home phone (mother) + answering machine
  • Work phone (mother) + answering machine
  • Home email (father)
  • Home email (mother)
  • Work email (father)
  • Work email (mother)
2009 - all of the above plus (now using m/f to represent mother/father) (20+)
  • Mobile phone (m/f) + answering machine
  • Web page
  • Blog with feed
  • Twitter
  • Facebook page
  • Google group or similar
  • Google Voice
  • SMS
  • MMS
  • Instant Messaging (multiple variants)
  • Other email (m/f)
  • and many more ...
So in about 100 years we've gone from 2 communication options to at least 20. So communicating about practice times, rain-outs, schedules, playoff and so on must be at least 10 times easier ...

Yeah, right.

Writing as a kid baseball coach, I'm guessing 1950 was probably the heyday of parental communication. Back then phone trees more or less worked and families were forced to more or less live in the same space. This year it was damned near impossible -- perhaps due to the profusion of communication channels, the increasingly failure of email (spam, message loss, account turnover) the disruption of employment changes (phone changes, lost mobile phone, etc), the failure of the feed reader, and the virus infestations that have disabled many XP-based home computers.

We tried to use a blog (so web access + feed) supplemented with email and, when pressed, a phone call (inevitably to a voice mail that seemed to be rarely checked). It didn't really work, but I"m not sure what would.

When it comes to communication, we're in full throttle tech churn. There's no common, standard communication channel that reaches a diverse group of people. We had one parent on Twitter, a few that checked their email somewhat reliably, perhaps 1-2 who would visit the web page, and several that were fairly unreachable.

I'm betting that we've reached an apotheosis of communication of communication dysfunction. Communication is important, and, sooner or later, people are going to figure out that we need fewer, better, options.

Alas, I suspect we won't get back to the highpoint of the 1950s for decades to come ...

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