Saturday, November 08, 2008

Geekpost: #bcmem Musings on Communicative Bandwidth

So I'm sitting there listening to @willmurphy's excellent presentation on adapting to technological change here at Barcamp. He's talking about improvements in communications technology through out the twentieth century and he kinda breezes past the idea of the of the train and the automobile as communications innovations. I think there's a point to be made there that not a lot of people spend time on, especially in technology circles since the car is fairly old tech.

What the car did that no other piece of technology has been able to replicate is allow for independent channels of individual communication that support extraordinarily broad communicative bandwidth. That is to say, that the sort of communication that happens when a car transports an individual (or group of individuals) is that it takes with them the complete richness of their ability to communicate... complete verbal and non-verbal cues, responsiveness and fidelity. Communication in person is as rich as communication can ever possibly be and it seems to me that every "revolution" in communications technology since is trying to find a sweet spot between sustainability (which the car is not) and communicative bandwidth.

To those ends, I think Web 2.0 may be starting to hit if not "the" sweet spot then at least a very good sweet spot:

* Twitter offers breadth instead of depth as a replacement for loss of bandwidth.
* Youtube supports easy, short form video for increased communicative bandwitdh in easily digestible chunks.
* As blogging matures as a writing form in its own right, the ability of writers to condense while still using hypertext for depth is improving.

I'm not sure that we'll see a true replacement to the richness of the in person communicative experience (at least until holo-immersion becomes a reality), but I find that I'm enjoying more an more technologies attempts to adapt.

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