A Word on Cyber Etiquette

5:14:00 PM


The most recent issue of Wired magazine has an article on emerging rules of etiquette in our Web 2.0 environment. While its clear that it's a hot topic and one worthy of continued discussion, there remains something from Old Tech that could underwrite the rules that become applicable to these new avenues of communication.

That is, I spied a sign posted on plywood walls used to enclose a construction site at a busy intersection in Brooklyn. It said, "Lost Dog," and went on to describe in an artful print out, complete with a picture, the dogs breed, its idiosyncrasies and a description of how it went missing. While this is an Old Tech appeal to the neighborhood, whoever compiled the document did something extraordinary: they wrote in Sharpie over their public notice, "We found her. Thanks."

While it might have well been just as good to tear off the print out, there was a very humane sense of good will and completion in being notified that the collective "us" had accomplished the mission of returning this beloved dog to its rightful owner.

Likewise, when it comes to the general ease with which we can add our comments to Web artifacts such as friend's status updates, their blog posts or twitters, or even mainstream media articles, what seems to still be downright alienating from all of this is those statements like, "We found her. Thanks."

That is, a status update is not just completed by the act of being commented on; a text or email message is not sent; a blog post or its comments has not been read; a dropped phone call is not over until, at some level, all of these ways of communicating have been issued an "signal received, end of line."

As such, a rule of thumb added to the Wired article for etiquette in these things is this: make it known when a text has been received with a simple response, add a closing comment to comment threads, find a way to say the tide and true "goodbye" to drop calls; in short, make it known that in cyberspace, you, the originator of the transmission says, "10-4. Over and out."

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