Summary: Web and online communication and interaction is asynchronous. As such the delay, be it a matter of seconds or several days, disintegrates the sense of "being there" and "shared time" that characterizes co-presence, simultaneous, and spontaneous interaction. People have the time to consider themselves consciously, to tell rather than talk, and some of this comes out in online and social media as cold, distant, and self-oriented rather than other-oriented. And yet a great deal of talk now happens in a mediated fashion. The implications for the design of social software, online interaction, online community, and social media are significant. And they will become very interesting as these media become more synchronous.
To receive a call one must pick up the phone. To receive an email, one must be aware of its arrival. AOL made this trivial moment into a soundbyte of the nineties. Being on the grid and being connected amounts to nothing if you're not checking your mail. And that goes for IM, texting, discussion boards, and chatrooms also. The point here being that connectivity comes at a certain price paid by each of us in the form of attentiveness and presence. We practically have to be as "on" at the network itself.
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