Stewart butterfield prefers a different metaphor. Slack “makes people more powerful at communicating,” he told me, not unlike the way a backhoe makes people more powerful at digging holes. “They can dig a lot more ditches than they do if they only have a shovel,” he said. “But you can also accidentally knock over a building.”
We’re simply not wired to monitor an ongoing stream of unpredictable communication at the same time that we’re trying to also finish actual work. E-mail introduced this problem of communication-driven distraction, but Slack pushed it to a new extreme. We both love and hate Slack because this company built the right tool for the wrong way to work.
Slack’s shift into being an enterprise social network is not necessarily bad news for Microsoft; if anything it removes a potential contender for the enterprise cloud OS. It does, though, raise the question of who will actually build the modular alternative to Microsoft?