Practical Mac: Although Slack’s messaging service was built for small and medium-sized businesses, I’ve found it to be quite useful for individual and family communications, too.
The history of technology is the history of communication. From the printing press to radio to the internet, many of our major technological leaps have been in service of allowing people to communicate faster or easier than before.
Right now, though, communication overwhelms us. It’s not just the constant barrage of news, but all the ways we can talk with other people at work and at home.
When you need to send someone a message, do you occasionally have to pause to recall which method to use — Messages, Facebook Messenger, Skype, Snapchat, email, or a score of others? It’s enough to make one want to use the iPhone as an actual phone and just call them (although you’ll probably have to leave a voicemail message).
At work, this is often compounded by whatever corporate system the company has invested in.
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And through all this, a relatively tiny company called Slack has made the kinds of word-of-mouth inroads that pushed Twitter and Facebook into prominence. In just a few months, I went from not knowing what Slack was to having people ask me if I was already on it.
So what is Slack? Imagine Apple’s Messages app, but designed for groups (which Slack refers to as teams), and not specific to Apple hardware or software. Yes, you can chat with multiple people in Messages, but it’s like bumping into a knot of folks in the hallway; I’m often scrolling back through my conversations trying to find the one that has all the people I want to communicate with.
Slack, on the other hand, is like meeting up with people in pre-assigned rooms. You can engage in discussions with everyone in a team, or set up channels (public or private) that focus on specific topics.