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Message Delivered = Message Received?

2011 June 17
by Randy H. Milgrom

          Before I upgraded, just last week, to a Droid x2, I was hanging on to my trusty old Blackberry — the very first World edition, according to the snickering but helpful Verizon employee who sold me the new phone. The old one died, which is what had to happen to force me to swap it for something everybody had been telling me would be better. And perhaps I’ll agree once I learn how to use it — or how to use it for functions my old phone could not perform, even on its best day. I know I’m not yet overtaxing my new Droid (I do not like that name, by the way). And I admit that by the end I had abused my old phone, thereby hastening its mechanical breakdown. (When the ball ain’t working, it’s time to move on.)

          But there’s one piece of information the Blackberry provided that the Droid does not. While using my Blackberry’s Short Message Service, or SMS — when “texting,” in other words, as it is commonly known — the phone’s read-out would inform me that my message had been sent. And then, some seconds later, with the sudden addition of a tiny check mark, my phone would further comfort me: my pithy 140-character missive had been delivered. The Droid — whose set-up is not only more readable but also more entertaining, with strings of texted correspondence displayed within the kinds of crudely formed bubbles one finds in comic books and graphic novels — also confirms that my message is sent. But it offers no definitive confirmation of delivery until or unless my recipient favors me with a reply. This may not be a deal-breaker, but my former circumstances seem preferable to the guessing and waiting game I now must endure.

          Yet even the Blackberry had left me with a philosophical — if not existential — question to ponder. I felt confident that my message had been sent. And I believed it when I was informed that it had been delivered. But had it been received? I still never really knew. I mean, they got my message — but did they get it? That’s the ever-present potential gap I try to bridge in my business-writing business, and with each blog post. It’s trickier when communications are limited to 140 characters, and even more so if you have an aversion to emoticons.

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