Archive for the Interaction Category

How are human interactions different on the Internet?

Posted in Consciousness, Interaction, Internet on February 7, 2011 by Internet Prophet

Human interactions are complex. So complex, in fact, that any meeting between yourself and another person is likely to be influenced by most or any of the details of the situation: the weather, how hungry you are, what time of day it is, and of course – how the other person is like. What does he or she look like? Is there an attraction? Are you intimidated by his or her appearance?

Do you need something from that person?

All of these influences weigh down on your mind, which is busy processing and calculating the details of each and every interaction being played. Rather than participating fully in the conversation, your consciousness is occupied with social details that might not be immediately relevant. Your “agenda” with that person is more prevalent and plays a bigger role. As well, since there is greater involvement of your “self” in the interaction, the desire for positive feedback is always present.

The interaction can easily become shaped around these noises, losing its coherence and intended meaning.

On the Internet, communication is often reduced to a “purer” form. Most communications are completely text-based. The identity of the person on the other side of the screen might not be entirely known to you, if it is at all. Your mind is freer to focus on the messages it receives rather than on the “superfluous” details. The nature of the interaction – its goal and the reason it is currently taking place – is easier to see and appreciate. Frequently, the interaction will take place with the subject at hand neatly defined.

With this, communication becomes clearer. The conveyed information is more relevant and precise. Since the interaction completely lacks any sort of non-verbal communication, the words used must be more carefully chosen, the message defined clearly.

Of course, this type of interaction isn’t superior to our more physical encounters. There are no words to describe some of the information conveyed by our physical posture, by the look on our faces, by the nuanced gestures that accompany any conversation. Internet communications are superior for specific types of interactions. Here are a few examples:

  • Transfer of formal information
  • Rational/intellectual discussions
  • Honest messages: easier to create and send, as the feedback for them does not have the potential to be as immediately negative, or feel as “real”, like in the physical interaction
  • Discussions in which one must express ideas and notions that are contradictory to one’s usual behavior or opinions

Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.

Communications become focused on the subject of interest. Automatic and useless notions and biases, based on race, gender, looks, social status, and outdated traditions tend to disappear. Information flows from person to person, from node to node on the network, and judged based on its merit rather than on who is conveying it. Our ego plays a less meaningful role in the interaction, freeing the message from our influence on it; freeing the message from the messenger. The increase in signal to noise ratio opens the door to more complex interactions between us.


The Internet as a technology for creating non-zero-sum interactions between us. Collaborate and share and we will all benefit!

Posted in Collaboration, Interaction, Video on January 29, 2011 by Internet Prophet

Robert Wright on optimism

Collaboration, my dear selves, is the name of the game.

Posted in Collaboration, Interaction, Internet, Video on January 29, 2011 by Internet Prophet

Howard Rheingold on collaboration