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An insight from 1800’s has arrived in your Inbox

In the middle of a meeting and surrounded by technology I my mind suddenly jumped out of the meeting and raced backward to a visit I had made years ago, as a boy to a folk museum. 

In my mind’s eye I saw the letter, on faded coffee stained paper, hand written in impeccable script, but with spelling mistakes and corrections called out in a red ink by another hand.

The letter hangs in the Bank building of a folk museum, it's from an employee to a bank customer and the corrections were made by the branch manager the letter itself dates from the 1800s. The memory of it made me stop and think.

In the past, when a went to produce written communication it had to be done by hand, and it had a cost associated with - all that time to write and re-write the letter, asking the branch manager to check it over and proof read it. This all takes time. It means that written communication was used judiciously, there is an impedance, a cost involved in writing it so you only did it when you had to.

So in the 1800 did one bank employee write a letter to someone sitting beside them to ask them to assist with a task? or help them out? or follow up on a meeting? No, of course not. They simply talked.

But that's not what we do, nope - we, and this covers nearly every one of us, indeed I'd say that everyone reading this post has at some point sent an email to the person sitting beside them in the office asking for help. Could we have simply spoken to each other, wouldn't that have been quicker?

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