conversation substitute or starter?

Has a card you’ve sent for someone’s birthday ever kick-started a longer conversation?  Maybe she calls to thank you and you chat for hours without realizing.

Or she emails a response to say hello and thinking of you, too.

A while back I listened to a Radio Lab episode about The Trust Engineers.  The story explained how engineers at Facebook experimented with pre-populating a message box with sample text hoping to elicit a better response rate for people using the notes to start a conversation with their friends or family regarding photo tagging.

However, the last few minutes of the podcast poses the question:

Is a note a conversation substitute or a conversation starter?

Some people would much rather pick up the phone and discuss something in real time.
Others prefer to text or email.
Others like to hand write a letter or quick message.

I definitely use email or postal mail in place of a phone conversation, but I’m not avoiding conversation altogether.  More often I’m starting (or continuing a conversation) – just in a format where I can think about what I want to say and make sure I don’t forget anything.

What about you?  Are your notes substitutes or starters?

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