Seth Godin came up with a visualisation of ‘means of communication’: bandwidth vs sync(chronicity). He took a number of ‘old’ (postal mail, radio) and ‘new’ (blogs, Youtube and -of course- Twitter) technologies and ranked them on a 2D graph according to ‘quality’ (density or bandwidth) and ‘sync’ (speed of reaction).
Although it is an interesting way of visualizing things, and I consider Seth a very bright and creative guy, I am bothered by the fact that the graph is neither clear, correct nor complete.
- I have the impression that the horizontal axis of synchronous/asynchronous in the graph is a fuzzy concept. What is it actually? The average time between the creating of the message and the reception thereof? Or between the sending and the receving of a response? Radio is totally synchronous in its transmission but is very one-to-many: you can’t easily react nor are you expected to. I would like an axis with a unit of measure. Is it expressed in time (seconds/hours/days)? Wouldn’t a measure of one-to-one vs one-to-many be a more appropriate axis?
- Also the bandwidth axis is not clearly defined. Is it something like Kbps/Mbps for 1 individual message? Or is it the average size of 1 message? Is is the bandwidth from the point of view of the creator (writing one Tweet of 140 chars every hour) or that of the consumer (getting 20 Tweets a minute from all your Twitter friends)?
- Why are IM (chatting) and SMS (texting) taken as one? They are different in bandwidth (SMS are shorter and take longer to write) and in synchronicity (chatting is a faster medium: you type with a real keyboard).
- How can you put the whole of ‘art’ as one data point? Theatre? Painting? Music?
- Most of all: what is Twitter doing in that ‘hot spot’ on the right bottom? Twitter is low bandwidth, yes, but not lower than texting, and it is maybe fast but still asynchronous, so should certainly be to the left of IM/chat. It seems like Twitter is there because it would be so cool to have it exactly there.
- podcasts, as it would be nice to see where to put them compared to ‘talk radio’.
- Skype (conf) call with video?
- Email can be one-to-one (like chat but more asynchronous) or one-to-many (newsletter, close to talk radio). Are both uses considered the same?
One can’t post a reply on Seth’s blog, and I’d like the graph to mature a bit. I think that with some better definition of axis and data points it will be a good way to categorize means of communication. And I’m certainly interested to see what it will look like then.