Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Let us not talk falsely 

There are some people with whom I have two parallel conversations. One is in the real world, where the talking takes place over the phone or a drink, and the other is via email. This is one of the features of email: rather than usurping an existing mode of communication, it has added a new one, in a parallel universe. It is almost as if the person I am having an old fashioned conversation with is a different one from the one who types the emails.

Email exchanges - leaving aside business ones, which tend to be scrutinised for potential misinterpretation - fall into one of two categories. There are the long letter substitutes, and the short snappy banter. The letter substitutes are a bit like those annual reports that people print out and put into their Christmas cards: "Fluffy has graduated with a first from Oxford, and is now working on a project in the Amazon basin, while Chip is out into his third week of community service at the St Pampers Retirement Home for incontinent octogenarians." They are usually pretty verbose, and if when you read them, you can often hear the writer's voice coming through in the email.

The second type is close to an IRC conversation, where the exchanges, usually limited to two or three people, unlike the broadcast letter, tend to be short and sharp. The nature of email is that you get as much time as you need to come up with something witty to type, so the correspondence has a witty, unreal quality, rather like dialogue from 'Friends'.

Underlying it all is an awareness that everything is in writing, so you need to constantly ask yourself "could this come back to haunt me?"

Finally, in this brief musing on electronic chat, there are blogs: a peculiar phenomenon, peculiar to the web, often peculiar in content. They are monologues, although I suppose everybody imagines their devoted audience listening to their ramblings. My devoted audience numbers about three at the moment. Just wait until I'm rich & famous. Or just famous. You read it here first: the monoblogue.

Listening to: Dire Straits, Making Movies: reminds me of a sunny college day-trip to Whitley Bay - the Spanish City. Great day.

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