on online relationships (well, at least the tools)

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IM, Jaiku, email, blogs, Facebook, SMS, Flickr. These are the tools I use to communicate and coordinate with friends. The interesting thing is that each one gives me a very different way to interact with people in my life. This post is actually more about the tools, than the relationships.

I started using Facebook as kind of a joke about 1 year ago. Ariane and I were up at whistler chilling out with some wifi and I was like, "what's up with this facebook thing?". She's like, "I dunno... I think you like keep in contact with old friends or something." So we both signed up. And now what? Search for old friends? Me: "who should I search for", Ariane: "how about shauna?". Kind of random, but what the hell? Turns out she'd joined only a few days earlier. One obvious aspect of facebook is that it lets you find old friends, most of who I simply added but never to talked to again, with a few I was lucky enough to get back in touch with. Facebook also helped to redefine the way people interact with each other. Closer friends I stayed in a bit closer contact with, easier to organize things, share photos and other interesting things. Of course, Facebook is dead now, so time to move on...

You know when you're talking to someone, and they're nodding and appear to be listening to what your saying. And then when you stop talking they start talking about something totally unrelated and it was obvious they weren't listening to you and just waiting for their "turn" to speak? This is why I like personal blogs, it gives people the right to do that in a socially acceptable manner. I read a few peoples blogs whom I've only met a few times in person, and it's interesting to know relatively personal stuff about someone who very likely has no idea who you are.

Over the past year I've sort of grown to hate most personal communication with email. It's tedious, relatively slow, and doesn't give enough reference to properly understand tone. Yeah, that's right, I'm getting my hate on for email.

Last February I got a cell phone. Finally. I found SMS kind of interesting. Low commitment communication. Way lower commitment to sent a text to someone then to actually phone them. And the fact that you can text 10 people "brunch @ mel's @ 11" makes planning so much easier.

Props to A.

I remember in University IM (specifically ICQ) got very popular. It sort of faded away for a few years and seems to have been slowly making a come back. Well, it seems to have made a full comeback now. I spend a *lot* of time IM-ing with people now. It seems like there's very little miscommunication in IM. Unlike email, the conversation is happening fast, and you can almost always tell what the person means based on the feel of the preceding text. Actually looking back at some of my logs, I can tell how much I enjoyed chatting with someone based purely on how many :-) I used. Everyone has their own quirks online and after a little while you get a feel for how their feeling. :)

It seems weird to put Flickr in this list... but it belongs just as much as blogs. And hey, a picture's worth a thousand words, right? Flickr does let you have a sort of micro-conversation... but more than that, I think a photos/pictures a person uploads do tell a story about them. A lot more literally with some people.

Jaiku... I don't feel like explaining it in this post if you don't already know what it is. Jaiku and Flickr are the two most interesting to me. Probably because their the newest tools to me. Both of which I've only started using actively in the past few months. The funny thing about Jaiku is that I've actually met new people because of it. A friend of a friend starts a conversation, your friend adds to that conversation, and then you get drawn in and start writing with that friend of a friend.


One thing that all of these tools have in common is that each of them seems to aid in bridging the gap between acquaintance and friend. People who I never would have felt comfortable saying anything more than "hi" to have become someone I can comfortably start a conversation with. People who I could comfortably start a conversation with have become closer friends. All are very low commitment forms of communication. I can comfortably text, jaiku, or facebook someone I would not be able to comfortably phone (and even if I was, they'd probably think I was a little odd for doing so).

Anyway, this is fun. And I hope these tools can grow integrated more with each other. Well, except for facebook, which is totally OUT in 2008.

Peanut Gallery

Haha, I vaguely remember


Haha, I vaguely remember texting you that :P