The Ten Commandments of Communication

Smoke signals


For as far back as I can remember there have always been certain things that were considered appropriate and not acceptable for communicating between humans.

These include guidelines within a particular type of communication as well as when what type of communication is most effective and preferred.

Let’s start with types of communications. It may be impossible for many of us who literally walk around with the world in our pockets to imagine a time when contacting another person was more than a fingertip away.


Anyone who has ever watched a ‘cowboys and Indians’ movie knows the basic etiquette of smoke signals. The Indians mastered them and the cowboys were always giving away their location by lighting fires that created ‘here I am’ smoke signals at the least opportune times.

There were also the signals that resulted from catching the sunlight on a piece of mirror or glass. I don’t know the science behind it. But it seemed to have its good points too unless it was cloudy, raining or nighttime.

Mores Code Chart

International Morse Code Chart ©


According to John Perry Barlow, the telegraph was the signal of the technological leap that begat the types of communication we have today. With ‘Morse code’, messages could be transmitted by wire (or cable) over great distances both across land and sea. They were ‘translated’ from code to an understandable language.

That worked well except for when some a cable broke or some ne’er do well cut the line and interrupted the then vital means of communication.


Then came the telephone, with operators. Invariably in a small town, the telephone operator was the best-informed citizen, even though one was not supposed to listen in on private conversations. The same shortcoming existed where people shared the same phone number called a ‘party line’. The person being called knew by the type of ring tone which party it was for. There again one could listen in their neighbor’s call and violate their privacy.

If you remember the movie, Driving Miss Daisy, there was one phone in the first floor hallway. There was a piece of furniture it sat on and on a shelf with the paper phone book. Well you can wipe out that nostalgic memory along with all the great ‘telephone tables’ I painted as a decorative painter. They were a combination of bench, table and shelf. Some of them were quite lovely and a modern facelift made them quite the collector’s item.

But then, every room had a phone. Phones came in every color to match any décor. There were princess phones for the ladies of the house, wall phones for the kitchen and the standard table or desk phone. They were all made by one company and they were made to last. In fact, they outlasted the technology they were made to serve.


telephone table painted by Alison Gilbert

Telephone table from the © 'Recycled with Love' Collection. Painted by Alison Gilbert

Now let’s fast-forward from operators, to dial phones, to touch tone phones, to huge mobile phones, to car phones, to the cell phones of today. That’s lots of kinds of phones. There is also faxing, texting and the myriad of ways we can communicate by Internet.

We have so many choices. Do we call someone and on a landline or by cell? Do we e-mail them? Or should we text them, message them on Facebook, or use Google +? How did people manage before? Many people in countries where landlines are not laid use cell phones as their major line of communication. Most of us, in what we consider ‘civilized’ countries, cannot live without our cell phones even though we have landlines too.

But have you noticed that given the nature of the relationship, it is sometimes a challenge to know which is the most appropriate way to contact someone? Is a phone call too familiar? Sometimes it can be. I have even noticed that an email can be intrusive too. In fact, it is not so easy to get someone’s e-mail address anymore. Many businesses have a form to fill out so they can contact you.

So far there does not seem to be an official etiquette book on the do’s and don’ts of present day communication. I find a lot of it is common sense. Just about as often, I go by what feels right to do. Sometimes, I will have many choices, which makes it more difficult. Other times, the situation limits my choices and makes my decision easier. Here’s a general rule of thumb or ‘Ten Commandments of Communication’ that I have developed:

The Dick Tracy Two Way WristTV

  1. Do what is least invasive. You can always move onto another less formal means of communication once the groundwork is laid.
  2. Email in all caps is considered yelling, so use your indoor voice.
  3. Unless someone is your sweet heart or it is an emergency, call at a reasonable hour. What is reasonable does vary from person to person.
  4. Do not call someone’s cell number unless they gave it to you or it is on their business card.
  5. Personal email addresses should be given the same consideration.
  6. Ever think of sending a letter? I mean a personal letter, not spam.
  7. And speaking of spam, the verdict is still out on bulk email in my book. Even people on a permission-based mailing lists can find one newsletter after another rather tiresome. Unless you have something of real value and importance to say, I say, don’t send it.
  8. When you leave a phone message, speak slowly. Repeat your information, you name, your phone number and the reason for your call. You name, your phone number and the reason for your call.
  9. Respect other people’s privacy. That may seem like a joke these days but do your best.
  10. Do not talk on your cell phone in a restaurant or other public place as if it were your private space.

I hope you find these guidelines helpful. Please let me know what you think, agree, disagree, have another or better idea. Hope to hear from you soon. Thanks.


Alison Gilbert is the Digital Age Storyteller. She is a regular contributing author to DBME, writes The Marketing Byte Blog and is The New York Graphic Design Examiner. Alison is the owner of MARKETING BYTES Solutions 4 Local Biz. Located on Long Island, New York, MARKETING BYTES serves clients virtually everywhere.

Their boutique style – very personal service – hybrid company specializes in helping local/small biz generate sales leads by transitioning from traditional advertising to online marketing. Contact MARKETING BYTES at or call 516-665-9034 ET


A Casual Glance at Social Media


Social Media ©

Social Media ©

By now, just about everyone is at least aware of social media. Whether one participates in it, likes it or dislikes it, favors certain venues over others, social media has become part of our everyday culture and part of our technology in its brief 30 year history. It is also inarguably here to stay and will continue to morph into more and more amazing forms.

For those less knowledgeable about the most popular social media venues, the differences between them may seem to blur and have little distinction, if any. Therefore, it is the purpose of this post to clarify some of the distinctions for the technically challenged (which is most of us over a certain age).

Alexa logo

Alexa logo ©

ALEXA RANKINGS is a website that was founded in 1996 and is now owned by It rates the frequency of visits to 5 million sites on the Internet. Although reports indicate that Alexa’s ranking results are biased, it is still a technically accepted system by much of the social media world. Let’s look at a few of the most popular and top rated Alexa rated sites.

Google logo

Google logo ™

Google is ranked #1 by It is the ‘big engine’ that could. It has gone from being the master program for global (URL universe) SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION, commonly known as SEO to its brainchild, LOCAL BUSINESS SEO with Google Places and Google Maps. It has also created Google + which includes Google Circles, a connecting venue based on many types of groups of possible connections and interests between members.

Google’s Challenges
From my perspective, Google has two major challenges at this time:
• Staying #1, as #2 Facebook continually seeks ways to come up with new features to overtake #1. It is reminiscent of Avis when it ‘tried harder’ as #2 in car rentals ranked behind #1 competitor, Hertz.
• Their second major job is to continually change the algorithms for top ranking so that companies do not have a permanent grip on the secret formula to Google’s SEO based rankings.

Google, King of Social Media
To me, Google is King, the royalty of social media. The word has even become a verb. If you need to know something, just Google it!

facebook logo

facebook logo ™

Ranked # 02 on is Facebook. It is probably the most popular interactive means of socializing with family, friends and acquaintances. Someone who was alive when a certain outmoded technology existed, told me that Facebook reminded her of telephone party lines. It is a sharing experience, not so much a private means of communication although it can be using the message mode.

It qualifies as the 21st century’s #1 grape vine for news and gossip. For the purposes of this article, the fan page business feature or what is now referred to, as the LIKE page will not be discussed here. The Perfect Tools for Your Facebook Marketing Campaign was just published yesterday on the DBME blog by a fellow contributing writer, Joy Lynskey.

About Facebook
“Founded in February 2004, Facebook is a social utility that helps people communicate more efficiently with their friends, family and coworkers. The company develops technologies that facilitate the sharing of information through the social graph, the digital mapping of people’s real-world social connections. Anyone can sign up for Facebook and interact with the people they know in a trusted environment.”***

YouTube logo

YouTube logo ™

Ranked # 03 on, YouTube’s popularity clearly indicates how people love to watch and make videos. It is also often suggested that when you need to know something, do a search on to find out.

YouTube is like the best of the old time Saturday movie theater experience that allowed folks to be entertained for a nickel for hours viewed on the giant silver screen. YouTube is without the live music that sometimes emanated from a gargantuan organ, but as a compensation is available 24/7 from the comfort of your own private entertainment environment using your desktop computer, laptop, hand held device, etc.

Twitter logo

Twitter logo ™

Before we jump to twitter, ranked # 9 on, I would like to simply quote the information from about the sites that are ranked numbers 4-8. They include:
“#4 Yahoo!
A major Internet portal and service provider-offering search results, customizable content, chats . . . free e-mail, clubs, and pager.”
The leading Chinese language search engine, provides ‘simple and reliable”’ search exp. More experience, strong in Chinese language and multi-media content including MP3 music and movies, the first to offer WAP and PDA-based mobile search in China.”
Free, automated weblog publishing tool that sends updates to a site via FTP.”
“#7 Wikipedia,
A free encyclopedia built collaboratively using wiki software.”
“#8 Windows Live,
Search engine from Microsoft.”

About Twitter
The twitter website itself states it purpose best as an information network, “Twitter is a real-time information network that connects you to the latest information about what you find interesting. Simply find the public streams you find most compelling and follow the conversations.”****

Twitter’s function and activities, called tweets, have become headline news of late between being part of Presidential town halls, communication lifelines during emergencies and the modern day equivalent of the telegraph, succinct, precise and immediate.

According to Internet guru, John Perry Barlow, the telegraph was the first step towards globalization of communication and set the precedent for social media as well as our entire world wide web communication system.

LinkedIn logo ™

LinkedIn logo ™

Although it is ranked # 13 on, LinkedIn is another top rated, indispensable site. For consistency’s sake, here are the sites in between Twitter and LinkedIn quoted from
“#10 QQ.COM,
China’s largest and most used Internet service portal owned by Tencent, Inc founded in November 1998.”
“#11 MSN,
Portal for shopping, news and money, e-mail, search, and chat.”
#12 Yahoo! Japan
This is the Japanese version of Yahoo.

About LinkedIn
The fascinating thing about LinkedIn is that as somewhat of a dark horse, it is gaining speed as an excellent business networking tool. Colleagues with similar interests and background can connect. Professionals can seek jobs and promote their pedigrees. Employers can research for prospects. It has become the world’s largest professional network.

There are endless numbers of networking groups specifically tailored to industries and topics in those industries. Here is some company background about LinkedIn, founded in 2002. In my opinion, LinkedIn is the one to watch. It is a real up and comer as a business marketing tool.

In conclusion, new social media venues continue to be invented on a daily basis. They do not all make it into the big time. But every once in a while, as its very brief history has shown, someone creates a winner. In addition, top ones which may have been highly ranked a few years ago are no longer front runners but may have found a niche audience like MySpace has in the arts.

I am not a betting person, and this Blog post is meant to be a casual glimpse at Social Media. I consider my job done. Now it is up to my readers to decide for themselves what they think about the present line up and what the future holds. Let me know what you think. For an extra ‘treat’ click here to view an amazing infographic of the history of social media.


The History of Social Media According to

Social Media on Mashable

Alexa Internet Wiki Ask

Alexa Internet Wiki

Alexa Website Rankings

Alexa Ranking for Websites

Alexa SEO Book

How Many Websites Does Alexa Track – Quora

John Perry Barlow Wiki

B2B Video

Alexa Top Sites

About LinkedIn

Facebook Fact Sheet

Digital Media Monthly

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