November 6, 2007

Communication in the Internet Age

The pre-e-mail and Internet world is difficult to imagine now after years of its entrenchment in our daily lives. I was musing about when the first rudimentary email was launched at my former employ, the now defunct Guggenheim Museum Soho. E-mail and Internet communication occupies this vast space between mailing written letters and yakking it up on the telephone, along with everything in between: chatting, both written and voice enabled, message boards and... oh yeah blogs with reader commentary.

With the addition of graphics, audio and live hyperlinks to other sources of related interest, electronic correspondence is a whole new accelerated communication paradigm. It's simply different when you "speak" to someone and have the ability to backspace an incomplete thought or retract and reforumulate and throw in a picture and a hyperlink. You "occur" differently to someone else. You can develop an entirely different personality. Personally I like to appear more intelligent than I actually am:) If we could all edit the way we spoke and not say, "Er, um.. what I meant was...etc" and offer cogent detailed examples of our opinions without missing a beat in live discussions, we would truly create different impressions.

But with this form of communication comes wierdness, too. Trolls are an odd lot of people, they land on a message board, crown themselves king of the board, insult people, incite a riot and have themselves banned. What makes these people tick? Or fail to tick? I have no idea. Here's one example on Talkbass occurring on a topic of walking bass line roots: Talkbass trolls A banned poster called nothinggod is the troll in this little drama.

It's peculiar how quickly people can get their hackles up over dumb comments. Here's a recent example at MySpace (I decided to let the aspiring bassist and record collector duke it out). I mean I love jazz but is this endless back and forth worth this kind of an effort? Not sure. Unfortunately, e-correspondence can also bring out some of our worst traits. People can become emboldened and curiously insensitive through the Internet cloak and friendships can end easily over an Internet argument.

Yet another new thing was invented by accident: "the endless discussion". And no one will ever give up on making their point if someone else disagrees. No one wants to appear to be an idiot and will try their best to "save face" to the personal exhaustion of others. Below link is to another Talkbass thread that is bordering on a "flaming war" (now a closed thread). It was probably one of the longest I have ever seen. But aside from a few bruised egos, if was also probably one of the most interesting discussions I've ever participated in: Anybody want my SF gig? See if you can plow through it.

One positive is I am getting messages from people I hadn't heard from in years because of my presence on the Internet. An old flame, an ex-student who resumed studies, someone I met in a jazz clinic 26 years ago, and a ex-roomate/college buddy from the early 90s who wants to hook up and do a recording. Also people looking for Jimmy Raney landing here (I mentioned how I met Christian Egeskov). Finding people, especially professionals is easier now given the necessity of having one's own "" for self-promotion. You simply type someone's name in Google or where applicable, put a or on the end of their name and see if you get a bite. This is obviously easier than making directory assistance calls to national 411. And people find me by "Googling". I might even get the Google spider bots started by Googling myself. Maybe vanity is not such a vice after all. In the end it could be good marketing:)

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