Texture: Human Expression in the Age of Communications Overload
Richard H. R. Harper
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Our workdays are so filled with emails, instant messaging, and RSS feeds that we complain that there’s not enough time to get our actual work done. At home, we are besieged by telephone calls on landlines and cell phones, the beeps that signal text messages, and work emails on our BlackBerrys. It’s too much, we cry (or type) as we update our Facebook pages, compose a blog post, or check to see what Shaquille O’Neal has to say on Twitter. In Texture, Richard Harper asks why we seek out new ways of communicating even as we complain about communication overload.
Harper describes the mistaken assumptions of developers that “more” is always better and argues that users prefer simpler technologies that allow them to create social bonds. Communication is not just the exchange of information. There is a texture to our communicative practices, manifest in the different means we choose to communicate (quick or slow, permanent or ephemeral).
the remainder of the century (the period that Henkin writes about), however, one does not find that heaps of letters started dropping on door mats. A lot of letters were sent, but per capita this did not turn out to be many. Our perceptions of letter writing in the past—its volume and its importance and centrality to people’s lives—are not very close to what actually happened. Table 2.1 summarizes the important features of mail volume in the United Kingdom from 1840 to 1910. The remarkable growth
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Text: Social, Cultural, and Design Perspectives on SMS (2006). Meanwhile, there have been innumerable monographs, such as Katz’s Magic in the Air: Mobile Communication and the Transformation of Social Life (2006) and more recently, Rich Ling’s (2008) New Tech, New Ties. The list could go on, and I am not including the rich literature on mobile phones in the anthropological canon. All of these texts affirm that mobiles are creating communities where the copresence and mutual monitoring of
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Glancephones and Whereabouts clocks did not resist or transform the social setting in which they were used, nor did they fit a prior need or bodily pattern (even if needs and patterns did help us initially conceive of the devices). They were brought into social settings, and gradually they helped to shift the codes of appropriate bodily and mindful behaviors within those settings. With Whereabouts clocks, the habitus of home life evolved as digital icons of location were used as resources that