It took me a long time to figure out why kids relied so heavily on text messages and instant messaging for communication. I certainly understood the desire for privacy: it's pretty hard to track down just what they might be texting each other. However, it always seemed like enough of a pain to me that the gains in privacy weren't worth the aggravation.
As I'm very quickly finding, though, there are actual big people applications of SMS/IM. I find myself getting sucked in, thinking that teaching students to effectively use chatting technologies appropriately in a business setting might not be such a bad idea.
Texting (I'm using this to mean both SMS and IM from now on) makes sense for big people in terms of efficiency. I don't mean efficiency in terms of banging out messages on a numeric keypad. That's ridiculous and there's a reason that all of us have BlackBerries with QWERTY keyboards. Rather, efficiency comes in the form of being able to carry on multiple conversations asynchronously or synchronously while still going about our daily business.
I can respond to users, students, and my wife all at once, moving between conversations and using the inevitable lag generated even by the speediest of typists. All of these conversations get saved, too, in ways that voice conversations simply can't be (unless your "calls are being recorded for quality assurance and training purposes"). Texting is email on speed.
I'm a self-proclaimed email junkie. If I can have multiple streams of messages, data, and information flowing about, I'm a happy guy.
Voice isn't dead by any means. However, one element of our upcoming Google Edu Apps rollout that really excites me is the built-in chat feature. Computer problems? Fire up a chat session. Question for your department head? Another session. Agenda items for the staff meeting? Questions about resources or concerns about a student? These things can easily be addressed quietly, easily, and at the same time via IM/text/chat or whatever you'd like to call it. A tech IM'd me the other day and he and I fired links, ideas, and issues back and forth very quickly in a way that voice obviously can't support and in a far more interactive way than email allows.
I'm starting to see where the kids are coming from on this one. What if we could get them collaborating via text instead of simply determining the location of the next kegger or exchanging answers to test questions? I'm willing to give it a shot. How about you?