This interesting mini-series
August 27, 2001 8:35 PM   Subscribe

This interesting mini-series about the human face on TLC (via BBC), claims that technology and the Internet are replacing face-to-face contact, but without much needed facial expressions that play a crucial role in communication. No doubt, this is why we THINK OF CAPITAL LETTERS as "yelling" and use :) and :P in online communication. Where do you see online communication in 10 years?
posted by canoeguide (17 comments total)
Sadly, I think that as webcams and broadband progress, they'll still be mostly used by closeted men for crotch-cams.

I just hope that as digital communication progresses, as it has with i-mode phones, that we step back and realize that sending an email isn't always the most effective media. Too often, we ignore the soft costs of both productivity and spirituality associated with firing off a quick email. I just don't see any advancement in technology that can overcome what is something we just have to learn as a society.
posted by machaus at 8:58 PM on August 27, 2001

CD-quality, 3D-holo-stereophonic, full-screen, broadband porncam-o-rama.
posted by at 9:00 PM on August 27, 2001

In 10 years the web will be obsolete. We will communicate via radio transmitters inplanted in our heads.


Seriously, Bluetooth will probably be the industry standard, my 100-year-old great aunt will be asking me to sync up her Palm with mine, porn will still generate more dollars than any other e-commerce category, and Al Gore will vigorously insist that he invented the web. Paranoia will still ensue about what's safe to download and what's not, Gator will continue to install sneaky, unwanted applications in bundled software and Bill Gates will have "retired" to a quiet facility somewhere off the coast of Alaska.

Oh, and the majority of e-mail viruses will not come from Asian universities - those Indian kids mentioned in another topic will have cornered the market there. ;-)
posted by soynuts at 9:06 PM on August 27, 2001

We'll be screaming at each other in 3D, with automatic translation software. Yay.
posted by aramaic at 9:15 PM on August 27, 2001

I just keep thinking of a big fat-pipe version of mefi with video posts.
posted by canoeguide at 9:18 PM on August 27, 2001

Anyone who thinks that a video image of a face transmits the same bandwidth (and is thus equivalent to) an actual face, uh, in your face, has missed most communications theory of the past 50 years and is not to be believed.

And anyone who thinks that old media are replaced by new media with anything like the speed that these folks seem to imply has also missed a lot of the lessons of the last several years. It was within the last 10 years that oceangoing ships finally could quit having telegraphy equipment aboard and working.

It takes a long time to replace old media. New media supplement and complement old media, the coexist, they comingle. But they don't simply replace old media in a 1-for-1 fashion. It's a good smell test to apply to ambitious startups, in fact.

Online communication in 10 yrs will look very much as it does today, plus a bunch of other stuff that inter-operates with it.
posted by mikel at 9:41 PM on August 27, 2001

Fine. Good bye human contact. It's highly overrated based on my previous 20 years of "interaction" with humans. Drive down any city street, get cut off, flipped off and spit on. Go to any store and get cut in front of, rudely shrugged off or ignored, and basically shit on. We humans are a bunch of mean-asses and have no business interacting live (I'm sorry; I mean "real-time") until we get our collective shit together.

Anyone want to meet for coffee & discuss? TIC
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 9:49 PM on August 27, 2001

I keep waiting anxiously for the big holoscreen projector thingy ala the Emperor in The Empire Strikes Back.

I want a 40 ft head to push around my underlings, damnit.
posted by dong_resin at 9:59 PM on August 27, 2001

the online version of the human body (small 90k) (larger 400k flash 4 required) has got to be the best interactive human body on the internet i have ever seen.
posted by will at 10:23 PM on August 27, 2001

IMHO, technology does and will allow us to *not* have to have face-to-face interactions with those people who we really don't want to deal with to begin with! We can just choose to hang with those who are important to us in our lives . . . in a way, technology enhances face-to-face contact by allowing us to be more selective about who we spend face-to-face interactions with.

In 10 years, I expect online communication to about the same as it is now . . .
posted by mathdragon at 10:29 PM on August 27, 2001

Um, did the technology of the telephone replace face-to-face contact? Are novels deficient because we don't see the facial expressions of the characters?
posted by Rebis at 10:41 PM on August 27, 2001

This article about the Human Markup Language inititiative suggests that text can be enhanced with tags that will enable someone
to stereotype a human and the means by which they
communicate. The hope is that it will facilitate richer communication on the internet.

It addresses the issue ze ma, but IMHO people will rely more and more on acronyms, smileys, and modifiers.
posted by otherchaz at 11:06 PM on August 27, 2001

The written-and-read Internet will improve greatly as aliterates move to sound and vision ["Don't you wonder some times..."] and leave sites such as this one to people who prefer considered reading and writing to instant chat, audio, video, remote fellatio, and whatever other forms of instant gratification become available.
posted by pracowity at 11:49 PM on August 27, 2001

...other forms of instant gratification: You mean I can be gratified, instantly? What the hell have I been wasting my time on all these years? Jeez, why doesn't anybody tell me these things?
posted by aramaic at 8:05 AM on August 28, 2001

Online communication between humans in 10 years will be pretty much the same as it is today. Just as it was 10 years ago, and 10 years before that. Even today, email is far more popular than the Web, and it probably always will be. AOL-style instant messaging, that "killer app" of the late 90s, has been around at least since 1985. And IMing in general has existed from pretty much the first day the first few ARPANet mainframes were hooked together.

It's been proven over and over again that people prefer audio-only conversations to video+audio; "videophones" of various stripes have been introduced dozens of times over the last forty years, and they've always been big bombs. Webcams will remain niche toys. At best, a big increase in broadband usage may lead to a certain percentage of consumers emailing "video postcards" to each other occasionally. Other than that, forget it.

As far as online community and the like, video/audio will never be used for anything more than it is now: "Hey look at this Quicktime"-type stuff. Nobody will want to have to watch or listed to people explain their opinions when we can read the opinions ten times faster via text.

(My, that was stream-of-consciousness, wasn't it?)
posted by aaron at 9:52 AM on August 28, 2001

It's been proven over and over again that people prefer audio-only conversations to video+audio

And in certain environments, people also prefer time-shifted audio interactions (voicemail) or textual alternatives (SMS, IM) to real-time ones.

I could go all postmodern here, and talk about how this hooks into Deleuze and Guattari's ideas of faciality, but that would be oh-so-clich├ęd of me.
posted by holgate at 1:40 PM on August 28, 2001

> Nobody will want to have to watch or listed to people
> explain their opinions when we can read the opinions
> ten times faster via text.

I like to read and write. I make an average of maybe one phone call a week, and my longest call this year was probably three or four minutes. But others like real chatting. They read and type when there's no choice.

Someone will develop a good computer interface for small groups to see and hear each other blather about things. Probably five, at most ten, people at a time (think of a gathering of friends at a restaurant or pub) will waste one another's time. Many others could passively watch and listen, just as they sit home now and passively watch television. Such listeners could break into subgroups for chatting about the star chatters. It could be combined with text, like a live discussion group commenting on written news articles, but the main action would be face to face.

I would avoid such a site, just as I avoid sitcoms and jumping in front of buses, but plenty of other people would love such a thing. And if they're spending their time there, they will be less likely to then go to a strictly read-and-type site.

[It's like the difference in computer games between the old text adventures and the newer 3D action games. If I still played computer games, I would play something like the old Zork, not some shoot-and-run 3D-and-sound game, but plenty of others would choose 3D and sound.]

>> It's been proven over and over again that people
>> prefer audio-only conversations to video+audio
> And in certain environments, people also prefer time-
> shifted audio interactions (voicemail) or textual
> alternatives (SMS, IM) to real-time ones.

Where I come from, people like to sit in the same room, see one another, and talk. Give them a good computer simulation of that and I think they'll be happy with it.
posted by pracowity at 12:34 AM on August 29, 2001

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