Icarus was a test pilot (galwithglasses) wrote,
Icarus was a test pilot

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In response to kalliel because I can't even adhere to the character limit on an LJ comment

Three things jumped into my head on reading this (kalliel's entry here). Hopefully I can remember them long enough to type them. (Spoiler alert...I didn't.)

Seems to me that for a discussion to take place in a space like LJ, it almost harkens back to the days of long distance conversations taking place over a lot of time by way of handwritten letters sent by post. It flies in the face of the appearance of modern communication happening with the click of a button. I might post a response to your post and when you get time to read it and respond, the digital landscape we're operating in has changed not unlike it would if my life were to move on while I wait for your return letter. It's not at all like a discussion in class where you have an instant exchange of ideas accompanied by body language and an immediate ability to modify an idea as the conversation evolves.

The closest online thing to that classroom discussion seems to be something like Skype where you get almost all of the facets of communication you'd get in person. The more you pull out those facets, like body language cues going by the wayside in a phone conversation, the more you leave behind the ability to discuss like you would in a face to face setting. I think people still want those discussions and so we might try to engage each other through technology where the interaction feels as though it is happening in the compact time a face to face discussion might happen, 'real time' as it were. But what we've done with our technology is put a word or even character limit on the responses we can give through these immediate things like twitter so while we've tried to add a facet back in, we've curtailed another. We're not far off the word limit of a telegraph message. To make up for that, we've created platform specific shortcut languages. Add in the complication that many of these platforms are designed to propel our comments out for public consumption and you have these languages intersect with group specific vocabularies or communication traditions and it is like having to learn a new language each time you wish to engage in a discussion with a group all the while feeling that you are engaging in public performance art. As for a connection with an academic setting, that's not too far off a discussion in an upper level philosophy class which requires background knowledge and reading and an understanding of the way the topic is approached by the group. How do I say what I want to say and communicate my thought so it is understood and gets me class participation points but at the same time doesn't piss off the prof and wreck my grade? To comment on a platform like LJ where you have the space to express a thought in more than 140 characters feels like you've just written a dissertation level paper. (Or I can't even work with the character limit on LJ and commit massive irony.)

Interacting with me or anyone else in an online setting means that you are trying to have a discussion with someone that you might only know as an icon and the collected persona you've assigned me after reading my previous posts and comments. You can't add in the details that I have dirty hands from hours spent in the garden or that I am wearing a Che or Bob Marley shirt or a suit and tie. You can't see that I have nasty things written about Kant on my shoes or that I'm 80 or 12 or a dog on the internet. All pieces of info you would normally filter my words through when you evaluate my comments during a discussion. That doesn't mean that there is no way to have great discussions through an online platform, it just makes the interaction different. To have the kind of discussion we want, I think we need to figure out which pieces of communication we've sacrificed that we most want back to get the resulting better discussion. Then we figure out how to address those specifics. Do we need to be in the same window of time or on a designated thread somewhere? Is it as simple as stating in our journal entry title that we need to discuss something and then treat the comments section as a larger discussion forum than just people commenting back to the poster? Is it something better handled at a community? Do we just chuck all this typing rubbish and have a huge group skype session or conference call after an episode or event or because somebody needed to call one? Or really are we back at needing to speak with all these people face to face? Our letters of correspondence are no longer satisfactory and I must invite all of you to a salon hosted at my country manor for three weeks in the summer. Or we need to gather at the sooper seekrit mine/laboratory/abandoned factory/fan convention to work toward our goal of world domination or a different beginning to S8.

For me, communication online is like being on a field trip at a museum with my classmates. We are free to wander around and talk with each other about the exhibits we are all looking at but at the same time, when I'm in the coatroom crying about the rest of my life, friends drop by with words of consolation. Sometimes we laugh and tell crude jokes about the statue in the foyer of the naked guy on his horse, sometimes we straighten up and analyze some obscure impressionist painting of a guy without a horse or an ear with our art professor and sometimes we are inspired by what we see to create our own stuff. Once in a while we get cheesed because someone ships the guy on the horse with the guy with no ear and we personally just can't see it and what have they been smoking anyhow? Sometimes we just want to know where to get a cup of coffee or find the bathroom or where we can get some of what they've been smoking. Inevitably the interaction comes with its own set of rules and social etiquette which I may more or less awkwardly attempt to adhere to but we want to be there with a group, not on a solo visit to the museum.

And as it often happens, I've also forgotten what I started out to write by this point. It feels like I have taken a huge step away from the topic because...squirrel!

Tags: irony, journal comment, just life, reaction, thoughts
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