Hello world! I’ve been sick for the past few days. Buh. Anyway, I’m still alive. Here’s the latest blog assignment.
FREQUENT UPDATES: Pick either an acquaintance you don’t know that well or a parent. In a 24 hour period dramatically increase the amount of information you send this person using a text-based mobile communication technology that you know they can receive (like IM on your phone, text/SMS, or e-mail on your phone/PDA). For example, you could communicate with them every time you do anything (“hi I am getting on the bus”, “arrived in class,” “class is boring,” “having lunch,” “talking with friend.”) Describe the reactions.
Pick three people and text them incessantly throughout the day, then compare their reactions to the frequent updates. Each person was selected based on the availability of their phone number in my list of contacts, the frequency of which I normally communicate with them, and also a number of other personal criteria which I cannot, for sake of anonymity, get into. As a result, we have persons A, B, and C.
First, I’d like to show a few excerpts, then explain my findings.
me: just woke up.. need water
A: Who is this??
A: why hello garrett haha
me: sorry, I fell asleep again. hello afternoon!
A: How re ya?
me: good– I just put on my socks
me: [my friend] & I just high-fived. time for videogames…
A: I’m diggin the play by play. Say hello to [my friend] for me. game of choice?
me: oblivion on my computer & fallout 3 on the ps3.
A: I’m about to spend my saturday playing a different kind of game. The kind called acid.
me: ooh. now I am eating a piece of pizza.
B: What kind of pizza
me: it is cheesey. and has peppers on it.
me: just got outta the shower
B: Whats with all the updates
me: switched off the videogames, just hangin out now discussin dinner plans
me: hittin up the grocery store for ingredients (we’re makin Swedish meatballs)
B: Dude… Seriously! Hahaha whaaaat is this aboor
me: eatin my tasty tasty dinner now
me: meatballs were gonna take too long so we made rice&beans instead
me: drinkin my first cup of coffee during the day (no wonder I had a headache today!)
B: Oh, boy, the suspense
me: gettin ready to go out
C: I’m eating dinner with my sister then getting ready to in drinking. Woot.
me: brushing my teeth
me: jacket on, out the door, and in the car
me: finding parking…
me: at a play
me: doublefeature, actually: “tape” and “the Indian wants the Bronx”?
C: Just got back from dinner. Now time to watch some tv then drinking..
me: plays are out — heading back to my friend’s place
C: Hehe. Have a good night.
As you can see, I received varied reactions. While they all seemed confused in general about my play by play, each played back differently. Person A apparently no longer had my number, but was quick to discover my identity. It seems that my updates, though they came out of the blue, were made with purpose. I gave no explanation, and yet my updatees became ever more convinced that I did indeed have purpose in my messages. As Person B demonstrates, there is demand for explanation, but only a resigned interaction. None of these persons ended communication entirely. They must have felt compelled to respond, even though the majority of the updates were extremely one-sided. I never asked about their days, simply marched forth with updates of my own. Though these updates were one-sided, the norms of communication nevertheless nudged their way into communication. Person C, without being prompted, reacted to my frequent updates with updates of his/her own.
Cellphones seem to have their own sort of social expectations. While home phones never used to have caller-id, we now expect this feature as part of the telephone technology. On the flip-side, people also expect people to know who it is that is calling. I had not expected an acquaintance to have lost my number, yet I carried through with the experiment without explanation. This reminded me how one-sided I was being in the experiment. This was contrary to the whole idea of “communications” technologies. Phones are meant to be a medium between two people, not from one person to another. Even the messaging system on my iPhone is built for this, displaying text messages to and from on the same screen like in an instant-messaging conversation. People were not expecting Twitter updates to be coming to them on their cellphones (though I understand some people do this) via text message.
All this brought me to a few interesting points about texting & cell-phones in general:
1) People expect to know who they are talking to.
2) People expect communication to be two-sided.
3) People expect communication to match the medium. Though I was communicating via cellphone, person C later stated, “You basically did Twitter.”
All in all, both myself and my subjects were extremely entertained by the experiment. It revealed a few interesting nuances of communication and got me in touch with some people that I normally wouldn’t be talking to.
Breaking norms might be a little bit awkward, but it can lead to some laughs in the end.
Listening to: The Scientist, Coldplay