The most socially useful communication technology

Text is the most socially useful communication technology. It works well in 1:1, 1:N, and M:N modes. It can be indexed and searched efficiently, even by hand. It can be translated. It can be produced and consumed at variable speeds. It is asynchronous. It can be compared, diffed, clustered, corrected, summarized and filtered algorithmically. It permits multiparty editing. It permits branching conversations, lurking, annotation, quoting, reviewing, summarizing, structured responses, exegesis, even fan fic.

I read the post “Always bet on text” today and, I must say, it is a beautiful way to look at the process of communicating by writing. :)

2 comments

  1. That’s a truly nice way of looking at it. I’ll add to that that on a higher level, you can also sometimes extract information solely based on the _style_ of some text. It’s not rare that we’re reading some piece of text and we immediately figure out who must have written it.

    1. Indeed, there’s a lot of information encoded in someone’s free form text. One idea that I’d like to test someday is this: given some texts from a specific author, how well can I predict his/her age?

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