ACK!

Email and IM should - (like facebook, twitter and stackoverflow) - allow for a star/like/fav of an email or message which acts as an positive acknowledgement without requiring any other response or elaboration, nor consuming an entire message unto itself.

Land-line telephones could also have a button for this: you toggle it to the "on" position and it will "uh-huh" and then "uh-huh" again every 30 seconds as your elderly aunt describes her neighbour's friend's pet dog's medical dilemmas.

 

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