[iDC] Online silence and “infomania”

Michel Bauwens michelsub2004 at gmail.com
Wed Aug 29 11:55:36 UTC 2007

Hi Yoram,

I have a short comment on this, about the ethical aspects.

Granted that we are all overloaded, and some more than others of course, is
it not an ethical requirement to respond to one's peers? At least I attempt
to directly answer every query, but if it requires extensive thought, I file
it for later, where it may indeed lay fallow for quite a while, part of a
300+ to respond file which grows faster than I can respond to them.

But at least, I think it is important to acknowledge reception. A good
example is the automatic response by Richard Stallman, which I respect as an
attempt to square the circle.

Other people, who  do not respond at all, even if I can understand the
reasons, create ill feelings, as it is as if 'you don't exist',


On 8/28/07, Yoram Kalman <Yoram.Kalman at gmail.com> wrote:
> Hi,
> In my first posting to this fascinating group, I would like to introduce
> myself and my research interests, as well as suggest a topic for
> discussion. I am a PhD student researching "online silence" at the
> Center for the Research of the Information Society at The University of
> Haifa. I am trying to define what online silence is, to understand what
> causes online silence, and to explore the consequences of online
> silence. In case you are wondering what I mean by online silence, the
> best example is a situation in which you send an email, expect an
> answer, and then days and days go by, and you do not receive an answer.
> Ever occurred to you?  J
> One of my findings is that most email responses come very quickly, quite
> often within a few hours, and that emails that are not answered within a
> few days, are quite likely never to receive a response. I also found
> that quite many of the cases of online silence reported by people, are
> cases in which people intended to respond but did not do so immediately,
> and this delay eventually turned into silence.
> In my research I speculate quite a lot about the reasons for this
> asymmetric distribution of response times, and a recent paper published
> in First Monday (link below) made me question the implications of this
> asymmetry. I would be very interested in getting some perspectives from
> this group about these implications. The paper focuses on "Infomania"
> and describes the ever increasing pressure exerted on knowledge workers
> who are trying to cope with an ever growing information (over)load, and
> with the constant increase in frequency and obtrusiveness of
> interruptions afforded by always-on, always-next-to-us communication
> devices. Under these circumstances of an ever present flood of messages,
> is it any wonder that we either provide an immediate answer, or hardly
> respond at all?
> Link to article: http://snipurl.com/zeldes
> What I would like to do with the help of this group is to peek into the
> future, and ask together with you a question about Infomania, and about
> our increasing inability to respond to all of the messages we initially
> intend to respond to. Are these temporary phenomena, or are they here to
> stay? If online silence is a result of our inability to cope with
> information overload and interruptions, what might improve this
> situation? Will the solution come from culture? From technology? From a
> change in the way our brains are wired? All of the above? None of the
> above? Is this the first time humanity is facing such a challenge? Are
> there important lessons from the past?
> Obviously, if you have other questions, comments or interesting
> anecdotes about online silence, please send them too.
> Thanks!
> Yoram
> --
> Yoram Kalman
> Tel: +972 3 950 7340
> Cell: +972 54 574 7375
> www.kalmans.com
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