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June 24, 2008


Deb-- great post, and alas it is only going to get worse, with more UGC being created in the next two years than all content that has been created in the last 5000 years we are going to go into information overload. people emailing asking questions, leaving VM about their latest POV. Services are going to help, for example I use Twitter and the people I select to follow guide me to the content of interest, of course you have to be careful who you follow. For some people it has become the way in which they keep up with their friends without actually talking to them. The future of relationship management will not be about how many friends you add or how many links you have (think about the address book) but it will be about how you are perceived when it comes to reputation and influence. To some extent Bloggers like yourself already are doing this.


I think that sender perception/lack thereof many compound the issue. For example, I got a Facebook friend request and email this morning saying "sorry we've never met in person but can you do me a very small favor and tell your friends about a company I helped found?" I deleted his email and ignored his request; he may think I'm being rude, but does he realize he's created the problem in the first place?

Perhaps greater awareness of ambient intimacy and weak ties cause some to exploit communication channels thus driving us generally to rudeness out of self-respect for our time. Or maybe that's just a good excuse.

Thanks guys. I agree there is rudeness from access as well [peter, that WAS rude].

I also think that different mediums have different cultures - phone , different thant IM, different than blog comments etc etc.

Great post, Deb. Well, speaking as someone who owes you a phone call, I plead info overload at the moment. I do think that you have to look for patterns, and that it's getting worse for all of us to handle the barrage (both self-created and other-created) that faces us daily. I know that I miss a ton of Tweets and constantly wonder what other bytes are falling by the wayside. But just now I saw your face on my Twitter feed and thought "CRAP!" I forgot to call Deb! Not sure what it all means, but it's stressful--on both sides.

Awesome topic. I think it's a negative change, one that will take months or years for the ramifications to manifest. If, for example a friend twitters they're on route to a funeral and you feel sympathy for them, it does not mean you have not sympathized *with* them. It's still very important to check in with your friends, but I noticing a trend of asynchronous sociality (you can quote me on that ;) that does not sustain long-term /meaningful/ relationships.

Of course if we're talking about weak ties (acquaintances) then this is fine behavior as you are building those small relationship where you would not normally share something so emotional.

But we all need people we can rely on when things are hard or people to toast us when they are good. But if friendships slide into TXTing, twitter feeds, and dog forbid facebook pokes, people are likely to feel awfully alone when they really wish they weren't. If this caries on, people might forget how to make IRL friends and the cycle could get worse.

I've noticed this creeping in and have made extra efforts to use the phone instead of email, make group dinner plans instead of going to big events, drop by friends houses during the day, fight off urges to flake, etc.

On the flip side I've lost patience with friends who think a facebook poke makes up for the fact they flaked on plans.

I think I'm diving off into territory at this point I haven't really thought through, but I sense some folks are possibly going to lose their way and have a hard time finding their way back.

But who knows maybe technology will save the day and with 3D rendering and bot software we'll be able to be everywhere always and have everyone with us always...

I'm in the midst of reading "The Civility Solution: What to Do When People are Rude" by P.M. Forni, a professor or Italian Literature at Johns Hopkins and founder of the Civility Initiative.

I think that constant connectivity does force us into behavior that can be considered rude. Pete's comment above is a perfect example. Of course, I think that a request for word of mouth advertising masquerading as a Facebook friend request is rude. But maybe that's just me.

What's the solution? My choice is going to be to think before I ask for friend links or favors. And to try to reply in a civil manner. And try not to argue. The success and value of this approach is an empirical question. I'm optimistic.

-Bill Anderson

As stated in http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/23/a-crisis-in-communication/ ..The long term answer to all of this isn’t that people need to try harder to respond to communication requests. The long term answer is that someone needs to create a new technology that allows us to enjoy our life but not miss important messages..

I might be able to send your many messages.. But at any point of time, software/technology should enable the recipient to view the "open timely/important messages" from the sender point of view ! Am working on that :-)

This idea seems to centralize around lots of weak ties, and a huge loss of the value of importance. In the past (before telemarketers), we knew a phone call was important because only people we knew would call us. We even gave the phone a special alarm (read: ring) to notify us of an important message. Think of the red bat-phone. It is for important things only, and it is always answered. With many people having so many ways to contact them now, the importance-factor gets lost.

A solution to this is establishing two realms, the public and private, and establishing rules for each. On the public side, not replying or replying late is expected. On the private side, a more historic ruleset is used, and replying is a must. This way you can section out your attention, and expectations for each side will be met. And as relationships develop, you can move people from public to private by giving them more information

J-M - great points about the public vs private boundaries and etiquette! However - not everything is that discreet between public and private, personal and business - the times they are a changing!

Thanks for posting!


Deborah Schultz
Technology changes, humans don't

Just re-read this post and realized that I completely overlooked Ted's brilliant turn of phrase which I intend to use more - "Asynchronous sociality" - love it!

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