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    I love this so much, thank you for sharing @whjms!

    20+ years ago being able to send quick text IMs (to non-techie people) was a transformative new form of communication that I truly believed would reshape society. It let us be present to so many more people than just those around us IRL, making distance between friends/family/peers so much more manageable.

    My mental model is one where the people I’ve spent time with in person create a high fidelity persona for them in my head, and different forms of digital communication will renew/refresh that internal persona, but it ultimately looses fidelity over time and the medium of exchanges only renew parts of it. Video chat is obviously extremely good at refreshing and even adding new aspects but has an equally non-scaleable high cost, emails not so much as they have a composed feeling without the liveness, but instant messaging with presence, particularly compose/typing notifications, is a powerful “reanimation” of that internal persona model for the other person.

    For the most part I consider social media sharing to be actively destructive to the fidelity of my reality-generated model, social posts aren’t personal or 1:1 and target a wider group/audience, they’re very composed and often polarized (and polaroid-ized), and so I actively avoid them as they water down who I remember someone as. Slack walks the line between the two, it can be both constructive and destructive in a group setting, so I find it the most healthy when used along with regular personal chats.

    The thing I’ve learned most about personal text based communication is that it ends up reanimating an eventually cartoon-ish mental model of the other person that is out of date from their in-person experience, the fidelity of their personality is decently maintained, but the quality of their life experiences don’t come through. You keep knowing them as you did previously but you loose touch with the life they are experiencing day-to-day and how that is changing them.

    It would be great if we could all see each other in person regularly, or falling back to frequent video chats, but you can only stay connected with so many people that way, it just doesn’t scale well without the terrible trade-offs of social media. I’m always looking for new ways to maintaining larger numbers of personal relationships with the richness they deserve. Augmented Reality presents a new landscape for innovation here, once the technology makes it feasible.

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      20+ years ago being able to send quick text IMs (to non-techie people) was a transformative new form of communication that I truly believed would reshape society. It let us be present to so many more people than just those around us IRL, making distance between friends/family/peers so much more manageable.

      IMO it still is, but digital forms of communication need to be treated as their own thing, a tool that enables an entirely new form of relationship, like how letter-mailing allowed people to become penpals. I’m still trying to figure out what niche they fill though.

      Augmented Reality presents a new landscape for innovation here, once the technology makes it feasible.

      Yeah, I can only hope that consumer networking becomes reliable enough for ‘virtual’ hangouts. I’ve seen some exciting POCs that try to mimic this with VR, being able to turn to the person on your left and start a branching conversation with them is the thing that I miss the most when I join a voice call.

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      To me this feels like the only thing that needs to change is our expectations. Instant text communication is a wonderful tool that has changed the world. The expectation that it can replace social interaction is an absurd idea that too many people hold on to. It goes much deeper too. I think you could write a series of thick sociology books on the subject of false assumptions people have about technology and its application to social interaction. These assumptions run through everything from interpersonal communication (as in this case) to public information sharing, and even how digital technology works in general.

      Although it might theoretically be possible to modify technology to protect people from their false assumptions, it seems more desirable to me to find ways of correcting the assumptions themselves. This article is an example of doing that. It is a huge undertaking and we are way behind schedule due to most software companies (I am looking at you microsoft, apple and google) choosing to modify the tech rather than the broken assumptions.

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        Hear, hear! This is a large part of why my personal rule is to never tweet out anything that can’t be fully understood by just the 280 characters in the tweet itself (I use Twitter as an example here because it’s the social media platform that I use most). There’s just no way to fully communicate complex ideas in such a limiting form factor, with the added limitation of text-based communication discussed in this post. It’s amazing how much misunderstanding clears up between two people with different views when they sit down and talk instead of trading jabs via the Web.