Monday, October 20, 2008

Words: two contexts

Having recent applied for a blogging scholarship to a previously-mentioned unspecified institution of higher learning, I thought a post on blogging might be appropriate. (Take that as an opener, EC!) Today's WSJ describes a sociological experiment about the influence of nonverbal communication (i.e. everything but blogging itself - might that be why one sees blog spats starting up so much?) on the messages we perceive. Granted, the article is mainly about nonverbal communication in a business context, but I think it can be applied here as well.

Four "unconscious, verbal ways that humans communicate with one another" analyzed in the article are "activity, interest, mimicry, and consistency." According to the researcher, MIT Dr. Alex Pentland, the degree of each of these is directly proportional to autonomic nervous system ("fight-or-flight" level) activity. These are, quite often, very accurate because they are hard to fake consistently. Unfortunately, blogging is one medium in which bloggers, readers, and commenters cannot read each others' nonverbal signals. However [emphasis added]:

This research tells you a couple of things. One is: When you listen to a business plan pitch, you ought to take it offline and read it also, and not just go from the presenter's "elevator pitch." But there's a good side to it, too. In venture capital, one of the things investors pay attention to is the buzz in the start-up group and the way it feels. And what the venture capitalists are actually doing, I think, is reading the honest signaling.
So how can we relate this concept to or integrate it with blogging? No one knows definitively, but while you're thinking, read this book review of Unholy Business concerning bad scholarship. The now-infamous James ossuary research was presented convincingly (press conferences) but has major flaws (found by "taking it offline").

1 comment:

elephantschild said...

Tangentially related: I once caught myself mentally sending the command to my mouse hand to "bookmark this page."

Not so strange, except for the fact that I was reading a magazine. Then I found myself annoyed that I couldn't tag the page to read later without getting up from my chair and hunting down a real-live post-it note.

On days like that, borg implants can't come soon enough.