Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Online & Offline Conversation

Online conversations are more direct and succinct. Social convention requires less formality and often encourages a playful invention of new syntax - a short hand convention that tries to make people feel like the space is slightly more intimate. Often it is understood that interruptions and delays in response are normal - but social norms encourage people to explain the delay with a short phrase that acknowledges the interruption.

I thought it was interesting how he noted that most conversations are not about the information being obtained, but about reinforcing relationships. I would argue that online, people seek information more than companionship - or they are interested in building relationships that will later be person to person conversations. In forums the speaker addresses everyone - but in life we make eye contact with one individual at a time and there is a sphere of influence in our conversational realm.

I tried to create a dynamic animation of such a conversation where two people are visiting a three person home to inquire about possibly living there as well. In the text landscape you see spheres of influence, the amount spoken, and who the speaker is. Online, the relationships develop in a more web-like fashion, the spheres of influence are broader and more democratic.

Here is the animaiton of the conversation (I can't embed swfs here):

And here is a conversation from an online space, click to open.

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