Conversation Agent - Valeria Maltoni - The Truth is 140 Characters

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It's not important, Michael. I just thought that "conversation" implied something akin to its meaning.

I was not equating your lack of response to my friend's situation; that was simply an anecdote. However, I can't interpret for you, so you have to make your own meaning from my words.

And thank you for responding. :-)

Carolyn Ann

@Ari -

I guess I would ask back, what is typical friendship or reciprocity? What is the social fabric you talk about made of? Would I be friends, offline or on with people I don't know? Sure. Are respect or trust requirements? I don't know. It all depends on the context. Which was really the question I was hoping to prompt with the article. How does the meaning of relationships change when it's processed through a layer of technology?

I think it affects society fundamentally, because location becomes less and less of a factor, and perception of meaning, perception of commonality gains more importance. Or maybe these ideas are really completely irrelevant, and it's all just so powerful as entertainment it is difficult to discern right now what is real and what is perceived.

A century ago, if a train was coming towards the screen in a movie, people would run out of the theater screaming because it seemed so real. Today, we see 3-D making a comeback because society is so inured to film.

@Carolyn Ann

What is truth? What is a friend? These are all concepts we define for ourselves and then shape as we come in contact with society in different ways: talking with people, watching TV shows, interacting with social media, listening to the radio, reading a book. You apply your own meaning to what has been communicated, apply it to what you already know or hold as important, and decide whether it's worth integrating.

Is death the ultimate test or meaning of friendship? Not to me. Is replying to your comment out of linear order appropriate? Can I reply to your earlier comment now, or have you changed the meaning of that comment by adding another? Are we friends now? Adversaries? Mild acquaintances? What if this blog required you to friend me before you could reply. Would that make us friends?

I think you've brought up a whole bunch of excellent points that I didn't even consider when writing the post, and that is freaking awesome. I thought they were so well made, and really so subjective, I wanted them to stand on their own. More than comments, it was really your own blog post within the comments section of this one.

Having not communicated that via the blog until this point, you put your own meaning to that non-communication and responded to it. You implied a relationship with me, evaluated that relationship, and commented on it in your second post. If I was evaluating your second response like a poem, I'd say that you equated my lack of response to your friend's husband's death. Sheesh that's heavy! But that's just me.

And that is my fundamental point. I think the only truth is the technology that presents the information. I bring a message to the technology, the technology reinterprets it, puts it in a context, a design, and presents it to you. Then you define it according to your own perspective, which takes place in a different time and place and experience than the one I presented it in. And that's awesome. It's highly emotional and reactive and I love every moment of it.

But the technology is important and persuasive and can't be overlooked. Why are we even talking about the dynamics of friendship at all? Is it because social media has settled on "Friend" as a labeling convention? Why hasn't this discussion become about labeling conventions? Why haven't we talked more about the French New Wave movement in cinema? People like Jean-Luc Godard have shaped our societal discourse tremendously by inspiring people like George Lucas to explore father-son metaphors in the Star Wars series. Is that a type of social media relationship?

Maybe my fundamental point was that just as Jean-Luc used storytelling techniques in film to manipulate perceptions and meanings, and to a certain extent our society, so have social media designers on their platforms. Maybe I just didn't make that point well. Or maybe that wasn't my intention at all. Does it make a difference now that so many thoughtful comments have created a more circular narrative around my original article? If I step back and look at all this writing as a whole, it says something different today than it did on Monday or Tuesday.

Lastly, why is it important that I answer questions? My goal was to get the readers of this post to ask new, different questions about what is real in social media and what is perceived: that as users of social media we are building narratives that start with ourselves and our experiences (alone and shared), but they become something else, something akin to entertainment. Have I achieved that goal? That all depends on what you make of it.

Hi Michael. I guess twitter is one of the multiple facets of id we create for ourselves in the digital world. Old notions of identity are going to be challenges just as much as old notions of ownership. I am part of a community therefore I am?

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  • Since 2006, Conversation Agent focuses on the impact of technology in business, culture, and human behavior. At Conversation Agent LLC, I help organizations and brands develop and communicate their full business / product value consistently.


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