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June 20, 2007

@everyone the subtleties of chat

Yesterday's near disaster… err, I mean yesterday's well thought thru learning experience… with the slow start of the symposium follow-up session (blogged here, here and here) reminded me that the simpler the communication medium, the more inventive we are with it's use. Think SMS, which has more or less led to the invention of a new form of written English – OK, I exaggerate a little! Think plain text email, with its well accepted conventions for quoting and responding in discussion threads.

It's interesting to note that the introduction of HTML email, which should on the face of it have allowed for much richer forms of communication by email, has only succeeded in destroying a lot of those conventions. (Note: on the plus side, it has given corporate-types a way of putting their irrelevant disclaimers in a different font! :-) ).

Twitter (I assume it is Twitter?), as simple a way of doing things as you can get, has introduced a new convention (at least it is new to me) - that of starting a tweet with '@somebody', where somebody is a Twitter name, to indicate that the tweet is directed at a particular person.

We're already beginning to see usage of this outside of Twitter-space – e.g. in email messages and in-world chat. I suspect we'll see more of it.

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