Skrip - tyur' - i - ent: adj. Possessing the violent desire to write.


#093 In which our hero does not speak.

There is a strange dynamic in my new workplace.

Remember that this new agency strictly does Web stuff, so my co-workers are all pretty "techy" by nature, certainly more so than I am. Everyone (expect me) has two computers on their desk, one PC and one Mac. This makes perfect sense, being that Web pages often display differently in the different platforms. Since I'm the writer, I don't need two computers. Words look the same pretty much regardless of platform.

Anyway, one of the first things I was instructed to do on my first day was set up an AIM account. This is the instant messaging system we use internally. I thought that was kinda cool, being able to send someone a quick message to confirm they got my files, or whatever. This makes perfect sense in a large, multi-floor agency. Quicker than a phone call or email.

But, the weird thing is, this isn't a large agency. There are nine people total on staff, and I sit in the same room with four of them. And when I say "sit in the same room," I mean that literally. The front area of the building is one big room, about 20' deep and 15' across. Another guy is in the loft above this room, and the office of one of the partners is directly behind me through an archway. Only the other partner and the sole account executive are in the back of the building. In other words, I could speak to just about everyone in the agency without even raising my voice.

But, the weird dynamic is that no-one talks. Everyone uses the IM system. It's rather bizarre. And I find myself doing the same thing... instead of saying, "Hey, did you make those changes?" to the designer who sits four feet away, I type out this same statement and IM it to her. And while this "conversation" is going on, we don't look at each other either, our eyes stay glued to our screens. Like I said, odd.

I asked the account executive about this (via IM, of course) and she said that she thinks people do it to help define their personal space. Which sorta makes sense to me... no-one has a real office, we don't even have cubbie walls. It's very much like a 1950's office where people just had their desk, and everything was open. I dig it, to be honest. But you can imagine you have walls if you're not speaking across the space, I guess. Also, almost everyone is plugged into their iPods at all times (but not me, I find it hard to concentrate on my writing with music on).

But what makes the situation really odd is that sometimes the IM conversation will turn into a vocal conversation mid-stream. I often do this when I think the IM communication isn't cutting it. The result is a little off-putting. There is silence broken only by the sound of tapping on keyboards, when someone suddenly says, "But the yellow really makes it pop, don't you think?" Or, a verbal conversation will suddenly veer back into IM, making it seem like two people just suddenly stopped talking without properly ending their conversation.

It's just a hard thing to


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