Saturday, March 24, 2007

How does IM differ from email conversations?

Small differences in cost can lead to big differences in outcomes. I believe the average IM message is several times shorter than the average "back and forth" email, but this is well-known. The attention given to the other person is also more focal and more immediate. There is less ambiguity whether, and when, a message was received.

Oddly I wonder whether IM is less prone to saying something really stupid. It will encourage more minor blunders in the rapid crossfire, like jokes which are not funny. But the very rapid back and forth discourages truly major idiocies, which require a bit more contemplation.

3 comments:

MikeK said...

With IM you can make corrections to your unfolding discourse as you go, while with email you cannot (see your next post).

Many treat the internet and associated technologies as another layer of social interaction, where every layer is a mask. However, I see it's quite the opposite at every turn. This sort of communication which bypasses existing social conventions (but is starting to gain its own) allows people to express themselves with much greater trueness to character.

This is as close as we get to touching consciousnesses and we can see that perhaps you wouldn't want to share a brain with quite anyone :>

Erik_Simpson said...

I agree with the point about blunder size, but I would make it in a slightly different way by emphasizing response time. The blunder that would be major in email often becomes minor in IM because you see the consequences of the blunder and can try to fix them before the other party has a chance to settle on a conception of what you said and the feelings that result. The ability to say "Sorry, that's not what I meant!" right away is a very big deal.

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