WWW… Wednesday! Unslack
The way companies communicate has undergone several facelifts over the past few decades. For most the days of fax machines and pagers are long gone, and new digital tools are here today. Few tools have revolutionized inter-company communication more than a relatively recent addition, Slack. Aimed at giving teams a real-time line of communication, Slack has made corresponding with overseas branches and keeping large teams up to date a breeze.
Borrowing from some of the earliest channels of online communication Slack employs a chatroom-like format. With team members able to access individual channels designated for their teams, carbon copied email chains are a thing of the past.
Despite the capabilities in communication that Slack brings to the table, it does present some unique challenges. A common problem facing those working in large companies is the constant barrage of emails they are forced to correspond with, preventing them from completing their work. This coupled with a digital environment in which we’re conditioned to respond to notifications has proved to be disastrous for many. Workplace responsibilities can inadvertently cause some bad habits to develop and when the source of this problem shifts from emails to instant messages, the threat to productivity intensifies.
Real-time communication allows teams to bypass missed emails and quickly receive answers to their questions, but it also creates an implied need for members of the channel to maintain constant contact. With a sizable team sharing a single channel, previously discussed topics will be buried by the time less active members have a chance to check in. The larger and more active the team the more this problem is amplified. In some cases, Slack can prove to be more of a distraction than a useful tool for communication.
Unslack is a bit of a tongue-in-cheek experiment created by the team at Bad Unicorn, of Scarebnb and Zoom Hypeman fame. Their premise is simple, take bad startup ideas, and bring them to life. Their latest project, Unslack offers the functionally of Slack built into a shared Google Sheet.
Despite its satirical nature, I can imagine it being a useful tool. I like the idea of a simple, stripped-down version of Slack that I share with friends or team-mates as a private channel of communication. It also would remove the addictive aspects of Slack that work to its detriment. To be honest, I’m still unsure as to whether or not this will really be available for use. Judging by Bad Unicorn’s past projects, there’s about a 50/50 chance. Scarebnb functions as an actual means of finding haunted Airbnb rentals and Slow is a chrome extension that prevents you from making impulse purchases. Only time will tell if Unslack delivers the goods.