The NY Times ran a story this week on a new trend in the way companies communicate with their customers over the phone: they don’t. Or at least a lot of tech companies don’t. That trend is fine by me; I’d much rather deal with a company on a website than be routed through endless and frustrating phone trees.And if companies would stop calling me about switching my utility service or asking me to participate in surveys, I’d be even happier. The Mead message to corporate America: if you must send me spam, please do it by email.And as for government, thank God for the web. The state and city of New York have their governance problems, but the web works much better than the phone when you are trying to get something done with them. Not only can New Yorkers get their drivers licenses renewed online, but New York city residents can now pay their parking tickets that way. The rapacity of government is still there: unlike every merchant in the universe, New York city charges a “convenience fee” if you want to pay with a credit or debit card, but dealing with government over the internet is almost infinitely preferable to trying to get answers over the phone or, heaven help you, by actually visiting a government office.The more quickly governments around the country can transfer routine business to the web, the better off we will all be. It’s cheaper and, as government gets better at processing approvals and paperwork, the dead weight of bureaucracy that cripples so much entrepreneurialism in our cities and more urban states can start to go away. We’ll still need the DMV counter and such places for the inevitable glitches in the internet, and to provide universal service in a society where not everybody is either willing or able to move their lives online, but there will be fewer counters and shorter lines as we make the shift.I don’t know whether readers are having the same experience, but the phone is fading from my life. There are still people I call, of course, and I much prefer my glossy and portable smartphone to the clunky old desk models we had when I was a kid. But those old phones, limited as they were, played a much bigger role in people’s lives than the gee whiz devices we use today.The phone is much less important for business than it used to be. There are times when nothing else will do, but those times are becoming fewer. Email and Skype cover most of my personal and business needs these days; the land line seems like a relic and sometimes my cell phone just looks like a tablet with a slow internet connection and inconveniently small screen. I’m not sure even Siri can fix that.For my parents’ generation, the phone remains the primary communications tool — though the Venerable Mead has gotten pretty adept with his email. The next generation in the family mostly texts; I can only guess what my great nephews will do.The basic phone lasted for 100 years; the cellphone looks like it will have a much shorter reign. Google glasses? Implant chips? Virtual devices and nanobot clouds that follow you around? People are going to communicate, and they are going to want to do it quickly and cheaply, but that’s about all we know.I still remember how many writers I knew back in the old days who fought the arrival of word processors. They were sterile, artificial, and lacked the good old fashioned honest feel of the typewriter — or, I suppose, the quill pen. If Hemingway could write with only a manual typewriter and a bottle of correcting fluid, that should be good enough for you, was the attitude.Technophobia is going to be a less stylish and less sustainable affectation as the gadgets around us change faster and faster. I for one am going to have to fight my natural tendency to become crabbier and more cynical about gadgets as the years go by: there is nothing cool about being unable to use the tools of your trade.