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Hold message on phone: ...Thank you for continuing to hold. Your call is important to us. Not so important that we’d actually hire enough staff to answer it promptly, but definitely important-ish.

Your call is “important” to us

Your call is “important” to us published on 1 Comment on Your call is “important” to us

Here are a few handy translations for the things companies tell you while you’re on hold with them.

“Owing to a larger-than-normal call volume…”

Oh, my word, there are so many people calling us just before the Christmas shipping deadline! We couldn’t possibly have anticipated this, just as we couldn’t have anticipated it when it happened exactly the same way at exactly the same time for the past seven years.

“For answers to many commonly-asked questions, visit our website at…”

We’d so much rather pay for a few hits on our server than for a human being to talk to you.

“Please listen carefully, as our options have changed.”

Too many people had figured out they could get through to someone by pressing zero.

“Please remain on the line to maintain your priority sequence.”

Some psychology major figured out that “maintain your priority sequence” sounds subjectively faster than “keep your place in line.” (At least, it did five years ago. When you first started holding on this call.)

(music music music)

We hate you and want you to suffer while you wait.

(music music music) “Please continue to hold.”

Not only do we hate you and want you to suffer, we also think you don’t know how “hold” works.

(an audio ad for the company)

We’ve somehow decided that a customer who’s feeling frustrated and resentful after half an hour on hold will be receptive to a sales pitch. Hey, you never know!

“Your call is important to us.”

Just keep telling yourself that.

But every once in a while, there’s also a…

“If you would like to leave a call-back number where we can reach you…”

…which translates to, “We get it. Your time matters to you. So we invested a little capital in a call-back system that will free up a phone line at our end, and stop wasting time on yours.” Hold that company tight and never let them go.

(parent to child) Sure, it starts with having your own phone. But soon you're on 4chan, playing the Knockout Game and recruiting other kids for ISIS.

Even worse, it leads to in-app purchases

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Skim the media headlines, and there seem to be only two possibilities when it comes to parents, kids and technology. Either

  1. Parents should shield their kids from all screens until the age of 30, lest they become distracted, lazy and incapable of forming memories more complex than a 140-character message. Or,
  2. Learning to code will solve everything from youth homelessness to the mumps.

(Bonus points if you can find a writer whose byline has appeared under both kinds of headline.)

The myth of the Family Tech MarketMy wife Alexandra Samuel has studied the way parents tackle their kids’ relationship with technology over several years now. Her two-year study of more than 10,000 North American parents has some fascinating findings that she covered at South by Southwest, in a session dubbed The Myth of the Family Tech Market.

Alex has found that parents tend to fall into one of three broad groups: limiters, who try to minimize their kids’ use of technology; enablers, who give their kids more or less free rein when it comes to screens and devices; and mentors, who take an active role in guiding their kids onto the Internet. (Here’s a handy overview.)

I drew seven new cartoons about parenting in the digital age for her presentation. Drawing is easy; digital parenting is hard &emdash; we’ve found it tremendously challenging with our own kids. Parents have to sift through mountains of wildly conflicting opinions, suggestions, warnings and prescriptions. And there are plenty of people ready to condemn you loudly and publicly for whatever technology choices you end up making.

So I hope it’s clear these cartoons are meant with a lot of love. Parents are making hard choices every day based on incomplete information, being pulled in eighty different directions by people trying to sell them a product, a service or an ideology… and we’re expected to do it with confidence and certainty.

The truth is, confidence is in scarce supply and certainty is just plain dangerous. We’re all stumbling through this, and a little compassion and mutual respect around conflicting choices will go a long way.

(woman using mobile device) I keep dialing, but I can't get through to Hachette. (Caption: #1 most-reported issue with the Amazon Fire Phone)

Number one most-reported issue with the Amazon Fire Phone

Number one most-reported issue with the Amazon Fire Phone published on 1 Comment on Number one most-reported issue with the Amazon Fire Phone

I’m not going to pretend I’m indifferent to whatever Jeff Bezos unveils at tomorrow’s announcement. There are all sorts of rumours of cool 3-D razzamatazz and drone technology a leap forward in online search.

But market dominance, technological disruption and all that stuff aside, I’d just hate to see the Kindle — yes, proprietary platform, DRM and all — drift once and for all away from its roots as an e-reader. I like the fact that my Paperwhite lets me read and do very little else; there’s no constant temptation while I’m reading to sneak away and check Twitter or play with Draw Something. (I’m looking at you, iPad.)

The Cloud has a silver lining

The Cloud has a silver lining published on No Comments on The Cloud has a silver lining

Originally published on ReadWriteWeb

There are times in our lives, extraordinary times, that call on us to open our hearts like never before. To embrace those who are suffering, and offer them comfort and support.

This, my friends, is such a time.

If you know a BlackBerry user, reach out to them. (Not with email. That’s just mean.) Let them know you care, and that just because they were offline for a few days, you still love and respect them.

It’s good karma. And don’t be surprised it makes your iPhone or EVO feel just a little lighter in your pocket.

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