Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Goodbye to Small Talk

Recently, I've been thinking about the effect of having so much of our private information online. It's not what you may think, though. I haven't been thinking about the use and misuse of my personal data (though that's an important area of concern as well), but rather I have been thinking that all of these publication outlets, particularly micro-publishing (primarily via social networking applications) are replacing small talk in our interactions.

You may be thinking that this isn't such a big loss. Who cares if I don't discuss the weather with everyone I run into today. However, it goes well beyond that. Between updating our profiles, photo and video sharing sites, and Twitter (or similar application), we are, in a sense, outsourcing our small talk to these spaces. These are the pieces of conversation that we get to know one another over. These serve an incredibly important purpose in our social interactions. What happens when the the normal path of disclosure and discovery is routed through a Web service?

I'm not really saying that this worries me, but it is certainly intriguing. Does this have the same result that database searches had for finding research? Will people forgo the getting to know you small talk for quick searches for people with qualities/interests that they are looking for? If so, what does that do to the diversity of our contacts? Is this the beginning of the era of group think?

Just some questions that I'm asking myself.


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