John Suler's The Psychology of Cyberspace. This article dated Oct 97 v1.
In the beginning, there was TextTalk. And only TextTalk. Now that the internet has become multimedia, sounds and images also are whizzing by us.
But even with the advent of video and audio streaming, typed text continues to reign supreme as the primary mode of conversing on the internet. This is especially true of "synchronous" modes of communication, as in the ever-popular IRC channels and chat rooms of AOL.
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Even in the multimedia chhat communities, like Palacewhere users communicate with avatars and sounds within a visual backdrop, typed text remains the front line method of "talking. Symmetry: my life is really out of balance Chill: good to have you back JH TipTop: we don't keep our sanity Symmetry: reading a book about humor and disabilities Avenger: I love you too Barney, not.
Chill: that's yer sister calling YieldNot: thanks everyone! Bandit: Hah! Busted JH! Newbie: what's up everyone? Chill: I wondered that too : Symmetry: my interest is sociology of time and space TipTop: interesting topics!
1) one direction in a chatroom
YieldNot: hmmm Symmetry: i think it is interesting Nuclear: matt: are you MrBig in disguise? BillyBob: MrBig doesn't hang out in disguise BillyBob: not sure what you mean Nuclear: BillyBob: are you a BillyBob What do you think Matt?
In and Out of Synch crisscrossed messages and "leading". Mystic: i got to you about it [ Mystic: no, I'm not interested. That's the problem NYGuy: ugh Mystic: you're telling me! I don't want to hurt her feelings NYGuy: you first Mystic: the thing is that because we're together at work a lot she's beginning to think that Mystic: we're developing a relationship.
Mystic: even other people see us together and are assuming Mystic: we're an item. It's making me uncomfortable.
Mystic: You're right, but no matter how gentle I try to be, it will still boil down to one thing for her - Mystic Dragon: next ur gonna say she has a 15 inch monitor, right? Tops: 17 in rotating Daisy: hahahahhahah Tweety: bigger is Dragon: wow, no wonder you gals like macs so much Daisy: doesn't have to be bigger, just better Daisy: and rechargeable Tweety: or plugged in the wall Hawkeye: what about bigger AND better?
Tops: its not the size of the monitor, but the driver behind it Tweety: with lo of amps Hawkeye: as one of my friends like to say, "How hard is your big drive? Dragon: more importantly, Hawkeye, is it compressed?
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Daisy: more importantly, is it unzipped Hawkeye: and how often do you optimize it? Lola: or is it backed up? Dragon: only in san francisco Daisy: LOL! Dan: Helen, you sound depressed Helen: I am forever depressed LostBoy: If you traveled back in time and killed yourself, you wouldn't be alive now so you could go back in time to kill yourself. A paradox! Diamond: I was like that alot Helen: my heart hasn't healed from life yet Diamond: I have a family of depressed people Yabada: hi folks!!!
Diamond: and. LostBoy: Helen, I have almost no self confidence Diamond: hi Yabada Yabada: I pale to see myself typing this LostBoy: Yabada, are you hitting on poor Helen? Dan: Helen, did you just break up? Helen: no he's being very nice LostBoy: I have never officially had a girlfriend before. Never done the hunka chunka Helen: actually a chat listner is all I need right now Yabada: Gotta go. See you all later.
Susan: You can make the other person look anyway you want them to polly: mental love is powerful Susan: I think the internet is a very dangerous place for some marriages Jen: a few friends argue one cyberaffairs aren't a problem to their marriages Jen: i think they may be deluding themselves in some cases polly: if you are looking, you can direction love anywhere Jo: some say cybersex isn't really adultery Al: give me ambiguity or give me something else Wisk: i don't think you can really love someone in cyberspace Jen: hmm is this the topic we started on?
Wisk: until you've spent room with them in person Jen: can you say "infatuation"? Alloy: Hey MrX How're you doing? Alloy: MrX BigThink: do you think Palace is a "community"? Joan: yes i do BigThink: question is Joan: as much as any other "community" Balance: or more so Balance: there are "relationships" which are beyond the sum of the individuals BigThink: if people hang out at a bar regularly That was so nice of you to say!
You're PC? Sorry bout that ducking in anticipation - Gee, aren't you just the sweetest thing I ever saw gag. A Dying Art? This article is offered for CE credit. for information.
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In part, this is due to the fact that during a post-hoc reading of a log, you read at the pace you usually read any written material - oe is QUICKLY, but much too quickly to absorb TextTalk. While online, the lag created by people typing and by thousands of miles of busy internet wires forces the conversation into a slower pace. And so you sit back, read, wait, scan backwards and forwards in the dialogue something you can't do in ftf conversationand think about what to say next.
To help you out a little bit, I've edited the other log excerpts that appear in this article. Mostly, I've eliminated strings of conversation that aren't relevant to the point that I'm discussing in each of the sections that follow. My editing is doing the job of those filters that operate automatically almost unconsciously while online.
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What'dya Mean? You would think that the lack of ftf cues and the buzzing confusion of TextTalk would result in many misunderstandings. If five different conversations are scrolling before your eyes, it would romo easy to lose track of what was said.
And if you can't hear people's voices, or see their faces, you easily might misinterpret what they mean, wouldn't you? For example, without tone of rooj, how do you know someone is being sarcastic?
1 direction chat room
After searching through my many megabytes of saved logs, I found no juicy examples of people being confused or misunderstanding what other people were saying. Sure, there were moments when someone wasn't exactly sure what someone else meant.
Situations involving humor and sarcasm usually were the culprits, because that smile, chuckle, or wry tone of voice were missing. But these misunderstandings were always cleared up quickly. A quick explanation accompanied by a simple smiley : or winky ; efficiently resolves the confusion. What's fascinating about TextTalk is that people mostly DO understand what others mean, despite the lack of visual and auditory cues.
Of course, some chat users may like to play games chah the potential ambiguity of TextTalk. The excerpt that follows is an interesting example of how the lack of ftf cues can make it difficult to tell whether someone is intending humor or irony, and when they are being honest or sly.
One direction chatroom
The use of the winky ; and smiley : are sometimes used to indicate irony or sarcasm, but in this excerpt the situation is perfectly ambiguous. The excerpt also illustrates how people play with the ambiguity of identity in chat environments. The illusive use of the smileys add to this ambiguity. Are they at times being truthful? Without face-to-face visual cues, it's difficult to tell. Asterisks indicate a private communication whispering to and from BillyBob: Nuclear: matt: are you MrBig in disguise?
In and Out of Synch crisscrossed messages and "leading" Due to lag in network connections, messages do not appear on your screen at a steady pace, which causes temporal "hiccups" in the pacing of the conversation. People also may be fumbling with their typing, typing a long message, pausing to think It's not easy to know when to wait to see if someone will continue to talk, when to reply, or when to change the topic of discussion. A conversation may accidentally become crisscrossed until both partners get "in sync.