It is ah not raining here also.

June 27, 2007

MSN messenger, MySpace, Facebook, Second Life … there is a proliferation of utilities which are supposed to encourage worldwide communication by allowing one to have conversations with new people. I am sure that I am not the only person who has discovered how limited those conversations can be. In order to find out what the fuss was all about with Second Life, I signed up and had a little look around. The main discovery was that this world is pretty much empty of people and fairly sparse in its activities. I also found that on the very odd occasion that I met someone, the conversation turned very quickly to “what time is it where you are?” and “how’s the weather?”. Similarly with Facebook and MySpace, I now have a growing network of friends around the world with whom I can also discuss the weather.

Like many things in this world, nothing is new. Ray Galton and Alan Simpson wrote the following in 1961.

“And I didn’t really lash out £500 on a roomful of high grade electronic apparatus to find out whether or not it’s raining in Tokyo. There’s no doubt about it, long distance games of snakes and letters and “is it raining?” is not to my mind exploiting the medium to its full potential as envisaged by Marconi.” Tony Hancock in ‘The Radio Ham’ BBC TV 1961

Plus ça change!

The truth is that if I wanted to communicate anything of substance then email is perfect. There is time to think about one’s phraseology and a chance to correct things which are erroneous or intemperate (though many people don’t seem to bother!) and a record of the interchange is easily available. Chatting on the other hand is just that. No substitute for real communication.

And to save you asking, it is raining in Melbourne today.

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