Failure to communicate

by Keith Barber

Failure to communicate

Since then, I’ve learned the upside and the downside to this interesting form of staying in touch, and the experience has brought into sharp focus a question I’ve pondered for years: months ago and in the beginning, I found it to be fun and a bit addictive. But the novelty has definitely worn off. Text messaging deserves praise for its ability to communicate small bits of information quickly and efficiently. But texting has enormous potential for misinterpretation, another example of how technology can distance us as easily as it can bring us together. With e-mail and texting, it’s far too easy to allow your emotions to get the better of you. I’ve fired off my share of e- mails while in an agitated emotional state. I remember hearing Bill Clinton once say that if ever there was something really important he had to communicate during his eight years in the Oval Office, he would write it out freehand. This technique allowed him the time to reflect and choose his words carefully. Last week, I observed three Winston- Salem police supervisors working the evening shift in three different “zones” of the city. This new deployment technique was designed to create greater familiarity and improve communication between officers and citizens. During my ride-along, I found the technology on board Winston-Salem police cruisers to be state of the art. Each cruiser is outfitted with a laptop computer bundled with software that gives officers a wealth of information and instant communication with their colleagues at their fingertips. Each car is also equipped with a video camera that can be activated remotely and a two-way radio. All these devices do a superb job of helping officers better communicate with one another. But the burning question remains: Are WSPD officers more effectively communicating with citizens to effectively dispel the negative perception many Winston-Salem residents have of the department? My mind went back to a conversation I had with Kalvin Michael Smith’s father, Gus Dark. Smith was convicted by a Forsyth County jury of brutally

Have all these innovations in information technology actually improved human communication? Despite my chosen profession, I’ll be the first to admit that I have remained consistently behind the curve when it comes to the emergence of new technologies. I was not among the scores of techies that stood in line outside their local Apple retailer two years ago when the iPhone was introduced. I heard about Twitter for the past year, but didn’t quite understand the concept. It took a “tweet” from a Sundance Film Festival colleague to pique my curiosity. I joined the Facebook community 18 implemented by Chief Scott Cunningham

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Two weeks ago, I joined the Twitter community — the free socialnetworking website that facilitates real-time updates from friends,family and just about anyone I’m interested in following.