My experiences with Slack

Lately I’ve been surveying the competitive landscape when it comes to social networking within organisations. One of the darlings that caught my eye was Slack.

The other night this breakup letter to Slack caught my eye which prompted me to write my own experiences.

Before starting on the Slack journey I did some investigation such as reading comparisons against Yammer and HipChat, various reviews, watching their own videos, etc.

What I can say is that the Slack story and interface is great – it’s fun, it’s fresh, it looks like it’s going to be great!

What I can also say is that Slack is noise, pure noise. Apart from breaking things up into channels and teams – it is just a never-ending unstructured mess of conversation tidbits. It’s like standing in a crowded bar and trying to have a conversation in a group of people, and like in that scenario people start their own conversations across the group or to the side. It’s supposed to be live but it’s not, and you can’t tell if someone has actually left – which might leave you hanging mid-conversation.

Slack really reminds me of Internet Relay Chat (IRC) which I used quite a lot in the 90’s in my nerd heyday. So I find it quite humorous that the young hip people of today are now using a technology that the young hip people of my day frowned upon as too nerdy.

My two main gripes with my own experience with Slack is that I can’t respond to email notifications and have them appear as part of the conversation thread (the email bounces), and that conversations aren’t actually structured as conversations or threads – they are just an ever-flowing stream of text mixed in with other conversations in the same group (or as we called it on IRC “channel”).

While it certainly moves you away from email – I don’t believe it actually offers any more meaningful interaction and in fact probably increases the amount of noise in your life.


  1. I’ve found the social interaction of Slack to be similar to Twitter, but not as crowded. So while my Twitter is a noisy mix of a stream of consciousness across all of my interests, Slack is at least segregated into specific groups (and ‘sub groups’ with channels). So it’s more similar to a group Skype (yes, or ICQ!) but my groups can focus announcements in one place, general hilarity in another etc.

    How it impacts your productivity is another story, similar to if you are at the beck and call of the New Email notification.

    It seems to be the default amongst the non-Microsoft crowd though (and even IT Pros who are), so there’s a place for it in building my online connections.

  2. It seems as though Cisco has taken ‘inspiration’ for its upcoming Spark offering directly from Slack, adding a bunch of integration present and future. This’ll likely be their ‘tip of the spear’ as it develops i’d imagine incorporating CMR, Webex & possibly Ciscano : )

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