Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Open House, Arrive at Four, Tea Will be Served

Take the MIT Weblog Survey

How marvelous. I've made science.

This is a rather interesting little survey - mostly based around the demographics of social groups that coalesce in the bl*******re (filthy word, but is there a better one?).

From what I could tell of the questions (I didn't read the background, sorry) they're looking at the degrees of social closeness implied by various communication methods, and then the degrees of cross-class/demographic connectivity of online and offline friends. Does anyone else read those foldout questionnaires from magazines, and forensically recreate the dumb questions the marketing arses are trying to answer, by the way? It's a marvelous game.

The realisation for me is that I just don't use the phone any more - maybe one contact in the hundreds I make a day is a phonecall. Usually, I let my phone go to voicemail and pick up messages. Email is my primary conduit, and emailing regularly actually makes me feel closer to those people - they become a constant non-obtrusive presence in my life. Mind you, I'm particularly bad - at any one time I'll have two email clients open (work and social) and I send probably 30 social emails a day - fifty percent of which are idle tittletattle on lists.

The other strange thing is the broad amount of jobtypes I know. I'll admit I start to drop off when you hit unskilled labourers, but I was able to hit most jobtitles across most social demographics. The strange thing is that most of those people I met offline - and many of those through one person, whilst clubbing.

Until this last year, I would never have classed myself as a social animal, but it seems I am, and very acclimatised to that evolutionary niche, too.

I'd hope that this detailed understanding of the sociology of online interaction will help to illuminate the ways that new social contracts are developing around online communication. I've certainly noticed that spam, phishing, IM spam (hello, AOL!) and so forth tend to decrease the politeness and social acceptability boundaries over time; has no-one heard of netiquette these days? But some newer social softwares - Flickr and blogs among those - seem to be actively improving the quality and respect of interaction online. And as a n00b on MMORPGs, the low-level interaction is brilliant - no grief, lots of dancing.

Anyway, as a sign off, I'll point you to Ben Hammersley's marvelous presentation on politeness on t'internets, and again make the plea that someone extends the metaphor of folding down the corner of one's card to imply one is virtually home for visits...

Because I really didn't want a salacious comment on my photos from that boy I viciously took advantage of on the night of my nineteenth birthday. Good lord, has he not got the message by now? One. Night. Stand. Honey. Give. It. Up.

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