Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Connection Between Snail Mail and IM

In a face-to-face conversation brought to me by my lovely, if slightly glitchy communications technology of my automobile (which I'll blog about more later), my friend Angela and I were talking about the immediacy of cell phones and such in comparison to the older communications technology of snail mail. She was talking about how much we've become accustomed to the speed of such communications and was comparing that concept to the time when people would wait for letters to arrive elsewhere.

And that reminded me of the way people who wrote to each other frequently in the "olden days" would have letters cross in the mail, leading to lots and lots of conversation threads that may or may not have been tied up. Which led to a thought: IM definitely has something in common with that mode of frequent letter-writing.

In fact, some of my friends have complained about using IM simply because you often get several threads going on at once in an IM conversation. It's true that it does happen in IM, and that it's sometimes hard to get them all tied up, but is much easier than it was in letter writing, where there were often paper constraints to deal with. It's certainly interesting to think of the two media having some of the same phenomena in common...

I don't know if it's profound (after all, heat + humidity + camping with some mosquitoes and need to get up and on the road early recently hasn't produced much quality sleep), but there it is. Instant messaging might be faster and more informal, but it's sort of fun to think it's at least a bit like the older communications technologies that have been wandering around.

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