Thursday, October 04, 2007

Electronic Conversations and Simultaneity

So I was playing a game of Scrabble online with my friend Rilla. The game has a little messaging function where you can leave little instant-message-like notes for each other for the next time you make the move, thus enabling a new version of the kind of small-talk you would be having if you were playing the game in person. And as I was looking at a play she had just made in our current game, I giggled at the slightly off-color word she had just made. As I was still doing so, I opened the messaging window and saw that she had written her own giggle into the messaging function.

What was odd about the moment was how simultaneous it felt to me. Even though it was likely minutes, if not hours, since she had written the words (and likely had long since stopped giggling), it felt like one of those moments when as kids we used to say the same thing at the same time and then yelled "JINX!" Despite the reality of the time-lag, it felt like we were laughing together.

This moment left me wondering about the weird mix that's created between the persistence of text, the (at least potential) immediacy of electronic communications media, its conversationality, and textual media's potential for more reflectiveness than a face-to-face conversation.

I'm not sure what new thing's been created in the combination of these things, but it's definitely something fascinating. Anyone have any thoughts on this?

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