Unpacking Our Dialectical Relationship with SlackDecember 15th, 2020 · 9 comments
Earlier this week, I published an essay in the New Yorker about Salesforce’s proposed $28 billion acquisition of Slack. You might assume that my feelings toward this slick-interfaced interruption machine are purely negative, but as I admit: “I do not dislike Slack as much as people assume given that I wrote a book titled Deep Work.”
What interests me more than easy criticism here is the knowledge sector’s dialectical relationship with this tool. People hate it, but they also kind of love it. Slack fragments your attention into minuscule shards, but it also solves issues that make email nearly untenable as a means of organizing work.
As I elaborate in the essay, it’s in this dual reaction that we find the truly important insight. Slack optimized the hyper-communicative, ad hoc, message-driven workflow that email helped make ubiquitous. We love it because it improves this approach to work, but we hate it because this approach doesn’t scale, and therefore ultimately makes us miserable — an observation succinctly captured in the piece’s title: “Slack is the Right Tool for the Wrong Way to Work.”
Anyway, as always, I recommend you read the original article for a fuller take on my thinking.