Dilemma Made a Slack-lash

Slack is a powerful communication tool and one of the most celebrated tech companies of the past couple of years with 2.7 million daily users and a $3.8 billion valuation. So it has been interesting to witness the so-called “Slacklash” — a small but rising tide of exhausted users vowing not to use the service again.

Where once the messaging platform was called “the thing that keeps us all together”, there is now a website chronicling the backlash, The Atlantic has reported about the growing number of complaints and, of course, there is a hashtag to capture #Slacklash tweets.

Why is a tool with so much promise and enthusiasm being turned on so quickly by an increasing segment of its early adopters? Sure, it may just be 7:00 Silicon Valley Time but a major reason in my estimation is the inevitable ineffectiveness of communication platforms — what I call The Communicator’s Dilemma.

The who and what of communication.

Regardless of the medium, communication between humans has two main dimensions:

  1. Who are you communicating with
  2. What are you communicating about.

Each of these dimensions runs along a spectrum:

  • From your close friends and colleagues to anyone in the world (who)
  • From specific to general topics (what), as depicted in the below graph.