Today I watched on the “Talking Pictures” channel a Rank short film from the 1960s instructing us all how to use the telephone properly for business purposes, with preparation and politeness.
Other communications available at the time (referred to in the film) were letter, memo or telex*. No mention of the “sneakernet”, whereby you walk up to the message recipient’s desk and actually talk to them!
One of the major points of this film was that you could not be seen while making a ‘phone call, and would it not be so much easier if you could be seen by the caller. In the meantime we had to adapt our behaviour to make allowances. Well, now we can see each other, is it actually better???
If anything, we have got so used to being available telephonically that both caller and recipient are less courteous, and with the advent of worldwide call centres many of us now detest the telephone and use other communication methods, like this blog for example.
*in the early 1970s I became by accident a telex expert, and could translate between numbers/symbols and letters on the frequent occasions on which the telex tape broke. Telex tape was punched with a sequence of 2 and 3 holes (above and below the line), and each group of 5 holes represented one character, either alphabetic or numeric/symbolic. If the tape broke or the telephone signal was corrupted for a moment (as frequently happened) then the rest of the message could be transcribed by the system into the wrong alpha or number format, and had to be reinterpreted.