Re: [-empyre-] Size matters?


It's unavoidable that posting on lists involves a certain amount of (subconscious or not) showing off - after all, even with the most helpful intentions, no-one wants to appear to be a complete idiot! As I wrote previously, the investment is paid off in symbolic capital / prestige, which may or may not lead to other benefits. The sad fact is everyone has a point to make and not everyone else will be interested in that particular angle. It's difficult to compel people to respond. So, I'm very sorry if you felt I was "lecturing" - just like you I suppose, I was hoping to engage in meaningful dialogue.

That being said, I'm a little dubious about the distinction between chats and lists - while chats are more immediate, messages also appear sequentially. If no-one keeps up some form of dialogue on a list, it dies, in the sense of having only unrelated isolated posts, and people then tend to switch off.

A mailing list is also similar in its properties to the "public
meeting space" which men seem to prefer in their friendships, notably
because public spaces restrict the level of intimacy that one is expected to
display in public [Walker, 1994]

This strikes me as an over-generalization which may even border on caricature: "males love erecting reasonable arguments while females prefer the empathetic emotions of chat"? I would hate to deny one half of humanity reason and the other emotion. I may not chat that much but if I'm online and a friend is also then we will happily email back and forth. And it seems to me that for a female, and an ex-lurker to boot, you seem very comfortable with the list format!


On 10/08/2004, at 6:35 PM, Charlotte Frost wrote:

Does the size of the dots on Marco's map depend on the length of the
posts or on their frequency? I think the latter.

I don't think I said otherwise. I did say I was sad my early posts and
discussion partners were not illustrated. And I did ask if I lumped all my
responses/ideas into one email, whether I would still appear somewhat
isolated especially if nobody replied in relation to my arguments?

Funnily enough, I don't think I mentioned anything about size!!!

Eryk Salvaggio wrote a brilliant article on Rhizome in June 2003 called My
Email is Longer Than Your Email: Gender in Online Communities. As well as
looking at the latent gender stereotypes that play out on the net, he also
looked at the gender bias of types of technology, finding the list
inherently male and the chat room somewhat female and went on to discuss how
different technologies affect our own sense of gender:

"Note that the online mailing list is different from a chat room. A mailing
list allows for the monopolization of conversation, and is archived to a
permanent record. Whereas in a chat room, conversations are temporal, and
occur in a what I call a "chatter formation", in that all parties are
capable of speaking at once, while a mailing list is one speaker at a time.
This allows for an authoritarian posturing in any communication, and one can
write with the assumption that the reader is giving the writer exclusive
attention. A mailing list is also similar in its properties to the "public
meeting space" which men seem to prefer in their friendships, notably
because public spaces restrict the level of intimacy that one is expected to
display in public [Walker, 1994]. However, while a chat room is usually a
smaller space with people who are there to engage in communication, a
mailing list has "lurkers", a set of subscribers who do not communicate and
merely read. This adds an element of a "public" to the mailing list which is
not as prevalent in a chat room. In this regard, a mailing list is a kind of
podium, but a podium where your face cannot be seen. This faceless, public
forum, which is completely alien from any sense of intimacy, seems to
encourage men to behave in a way that is even more masculine than they may
be in a bar, coffeehouse or other meeting place. Perhaps because the entire
nature of identity is so challenged by these factors, the entire system of
masculinity is itself challenged. It is not enough to simply be a man online
in order to be masculine- no one can see who you are, physically. Instead,
all of one's masculinity must come through in behavior and means of
communication. That this is exaggerated online may have to do with the
illusions of intimacy that the web provides- because it is anonymous, there
exists more freedom with regards to opening up or sharing ones feelings with
strangers, making it a more threatening location to the male psyche."

Does anyone else feel like they are being lectured sometimes, rather than
being heard or having their points addressed???

In relation to my questions on whether showing a particular propensity for
link making is now being regarded as a new, perhaps revered type of
knowledge, and whether Marco's map shows our growing investment in this type
knowledge then....rather than do this:

Charlotte - sorry I didn't really address any of the new points you
brought up... Another feature of lists: there is no >>way to ensure that a
point will be picked up by a respondent - the only option would be to keep
posting over and over.

Perhaps I should post this message a few times and see where that gets me!


empyre forum

Mathieu O'Neil
Visiting Fellow
Centre for New Media Arts
The Australian National University
Canberra ACT 0200
T 61 2 62 60 61 24

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