Re: Happy 5th Birthday!

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From: Tony Finch (
Date: Fri Dec 29 2000 - 15:49:37 PST

Jeffrey Kay <jkay@ENGENIA.COM> wrote:
>The interesting point here is in the almost 20 years since I built
>that system, very little has changed in the way we used computer
>systems to collaborate. The technology has advanced, but the
>metaphors are the same -- lists, instant messages, e-mail, pages.
>What I look forward to most in the 3rd millenium (starting Monday,
>right?) is some way to break out of that mold and really
>substantially change the way we collaborate using computers.

Every kind of computer-based communication has a pre-computer version.

lists == newsletters / 'zines
instant messages == ham radio
e-mail == letters
pages == telegrams

Computers have just made existing modes of communication faster and
easier, rather than adding fundamentally new modes.

>Face to face -- low tech, highest content, including facial expressions,
>voice inflections as well as the words themselves
>Telephone -- higher tech than F2F, lower content, loses facial expressions
>E-Mail -- higher tech than telephone, lower content yet, loses voice
>Instant Messaging -- higher tech than e-mail, lowest content yet, loses well
>thought out paragraphs of information (excluding this post, of course :-).

This is all wrong -- you don't have enough dimensions. Fidelity or
bandwidth or whatever you want to call it is not the same as content.
Most f2f interaction is not high-content: written communication is,
because it allows you to take the time to make more reasoned arguments
with references to sources etc. Not only that, written communication
is more efficient since the writer doesn't have to repeat the same
message for different audiences, and the readers can skip the parts
that aren't relevant to them; with f2f communication you have to trade
the two off against each other.


" ``Well, let's go down and find out who's grave it is.''
``How?''  ``By going down and finding out!'' "

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