Thursday, 15 March 2007

Another thing we do - muse about how technology has changed our lives

I was thinking that you can communicate with another person either by face to face contact or distant contact. I don't want to go in to the elements of face to face contact here, another time...

Distant communications only came in when people started writing, here's the wiki on writing Egyptians were writing on walls but also portable stone tablets and sending them to each other, hence the idea of portable communications was born.

Letters are much the same as stone tablets except being lighter, it encouraged more people to write letters than had written on tablets (!). Stay with me here, then in the late 19th century, the telegraph, then telegram allowed people to create a message and get it to the recipient on the same day.

The telephone changed all that and introduced the ability to communicate instantly, reducing the time in takes to communicate over a distance to zero. Telephones reintroduced the need for face to face type etiquette too, as face to face conversations are riddled with etiquette rules of acceptability. I don't mean ever so posh people saying, "Good day to you, sir!" but etiquette is just a set of rules of behaviours that are deemed ok by a certain group in society. So, when you go back to the family for the holidays, the etiquette is to not be bored, be kind to aged aunts, and interested in your dad's photos from two weeks in Scotland. That's etiquette.

Anyway, back to distant communications.

Modern technologies like text, instant messenger and email have reintroduced written distant communications for the vast majority since the late 1990s (letter writing had died out in the mid 20th century as the telephone replaced letters as the most popular form of communicating).

[Aside: Remind me to do a post about how technologies replace each other, the great example is TV replacing singing round the piano.]

What is critically new about text, IM and email is that the awkwardness of dealing face to face or on the phone have gone, so people feel much more able to say things in text etc that they would not say face to face or on the phone. That's a great thing because honesty always pays off in the end and if these technologies allow you to be open and honest then that will be setting the standard for what and how we communicate on a daily basis. It's a ruddy social phenomenon, I tell you!

That's enough nerdy geekdom, go live.


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