Our communication may not be as good as we think

by Richard on October 5, 2010

The internet has brought enormous advantages in communication. That’s so obvious, it’s hardly worth saying. We can talk to one another across the world in ways that would have been unimaginable even 25 years ago. In terms of speed and efficiency, communication between people has improved to a staggering degree. Through text message, email, blogs, forums, internet chat, private messaging and now ’social networking’, any 2 people in the world have many options for speaking to each other providing that they have an internet connection. This opens up the world in new and exciting ways. ‘Ordinary’ people can get their voices heard by others without having to go through the filters imposed by the professional media. While some may worry that this is causing a cacophony above which no one’s voice will be audible, I cling to the hope that this openness will be a powerful force for the democratisation of the world as we realise just how interdependent we are. This sounds very high-minded. I’m not naive about fact that the majority of internet communication probably consists of the trivial and the nasty in equal measure. It’s just that, in the end, I believe that the old cliché “It’s good to talk” has real meaning.

But.

Although our means of communication have improved enormously, people remain the same as ever they were, prone to misunderstanding. In fact, it may be that the plethora of opportunities to communicate actually undermines our ability to communicate well. Certainly there is evidence that we overestimate just how well we understand one another, leaping to conclusions, making false assumptions and missing the point with unerring accuracy.

WordPress is a fantastic bit of software that all sorts of people have been able to extend through optional ‘plugins’. If only someone could write a misunderstanding detector, they’d be doing the blogosphere a great service. In the meantime, we’ll have to rely on the age old virtues of attentive reading, forebearance and charity.

[A reblog]

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1

Kim 10.05.10 at 6:19 pm

What an asshole!

2

Kim 10.05.10 at 6:19 pm

Perhaps the biggest problem of blog-thread communication is tone.

3

dh 10.05.10 at 6:24 pm

…and tone is hard to read being that on a blog all you see are the words and might I add with no facial expressions or vocal inflections.

4

dh 10.05.10 at 6:38 pm

Here’s something funny. Why don’t a blogger use a table to determine tone. Aharoni = surprising (font size determines what level, kind of like an “aha” moment), Tohoma=sad (font size for level, Tohoma kind of similar and rhymns to “oh no”), Times Roman=angry and stern (font size equals level, kind of like what the Romans were in Christs day, angry and stern), Wide Latin=even keel and calm (kind of similar to the Catholic monks who happen to speak Latin, hey it mentions wide so I guess that would be in reference to the overweight monks), Lucida caligraphy=happy(the only reason because it is in reference to lucid people and really the fony just looks like someone who is happy).

Some websites don’t allow for font and this one does not so if I was able I would show an example of each but unfortunately I can’t. Oh well, no big deal. I think you guys and gals get the point. :)

5

dh 10.05.10 at 6:39 pm

Sorry, the above is in reference to the style of font. :)

6

Richard 10.05.10 at 6:46 pm

It’s not a bad idea, DH — except that you’d rely on every computer having all of the fonts installed. I don’t trust my browser enough (even Firefox!) to convey my tone.

Kim — you and your quaint Americanisms :)

7

dh 10.05.10 at 9:50 pm

Richard, the whole idea was really just being humorous on my part and at the same time picking at humorously how it is impossible to convey tone on a blog without the posters writing and conversing over a long period of time on a blog. Did you notice the parenthetical phrases? I thought I came up with some very funny connections with the specific fonts. :)

I also was picking fun at the way fonts are named as well. :)

8

Richard 10.05.10 at 9:53 pm

>> “Richard, the whole idea was really just being humorous on my part…”

It’s OK, DH. I got it. Honest.

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