[iDC] silence, infomania

Kimberly De Vries cuuixsilver at gmail.com
Wed Aug 29 17:23:13 UTC 2007

Hello all,

Also my first post here, though I've been lurking for a bit...I teach
rhetoric and composition and direct the Composition Program at Cal
State Stanislaus.  For any other info, you can visit my homepage or
blog linked below.

--I'm replying in a new message since my "reply to all" response to
the last post seems not to be getting through for some reason.

I think this is a very interesting topic; I personally struggle to
keep up with my email and sometimes I may take a week to reply if the
incoming message wasn't urgent, because I get so many every day that
are "time sensitive," and I can only spend an hour or two answering
each day.  This causes me a certain amount of concern since I know I
like to get replies quickly, but we are none of us perfect.

But also there are times when an email exchange seems to keep going
out of politeness, and I think someone has to just not answer.  Or
there are times when the topic gradually moves into territory that
doesn't feel comfortable to discuss over email.  And of course,
people's hard-drives crash, they lose their internet connections, they
are called away on urgent business, etc.

I think having become so accustomed to quick replies we start to feel
insecure or even panic if someone doesn't answer for a few days, but
in my experience it almost never represents an intended slight or

Further, given that some of the recent Pew research in the Internet
and American Life about Internet Ties [
http://www.pewinternet.org/PPF/r/172/report_display.asp ] suggests
that the people who are most socially active online are also the most
social in general, I suspect that some people just don't like email
much, just has some people hate talking on the phone, and some people
don't like speaking up in public.

Silence might also indicate active listening/reading rather than a
refusal to participate--this is certainly my observation in
composition classrooms, and I don't think it's an isolated dynamic.

I'm curious to know if people are silent on email lists, or bulletin
boards, etc, for similar reasons, or whether certain factors are more
important in one context than another.  For example, is the strength
of social ties a greater factor for individual exchanges, or a greater
factor in a community discussion?

Regarding the tome we are "forced" to adopt...well, in any discourse
community we are "forced" to adopt some tone or other.  I think that
the kinds of tone required for different online communities or
individual exchanges are worth investigating, but is it surprising
that email, like any other genre, has generic conventions?

Thanks for introducing an interesting topic.



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