In the book Cryptonomicon, one of the characters talks about how we get a sense of a person from their email and writing. And that we get to *know* that person through these representations or echoes, even though we haven’t met. Our mind forms an opinion or view to fill in the blanks, probably extrapolated from our own experiences and memories. So, in this way, we get a sense of the person at a subconscious level, because what and how they write gives us an impression from what we have perceived beforehand.
This idea is also echoed in Idoru where laney, a quantitative analyst, finds patterns in personal information (purchase history, plane flights, etc) to gain an understanding of what they’re doing or thinking. While Idoru focuses on laney abilities as a byproduct of an experiment, people do this in some lesser form whenever they consume written information.
Consider blogging or email .. the thoughts are written down, probably not captured completely. Maybe the reader is required to remember other ideas, concepts and events to put these into context, and only then will it have meaning.
But our written language is not how we speak. We first learn to communicate through learning to speak as a child, and only years later do we learn how to read and write it. Speech is a lot more fluid and synchronous, not necessarily bound by correct structure or even completion, but it allows fast feedback. Feedback does not necessarily come in the form of verbal questions. Other feedback such as facial expression, tone of voice, eye contact and other body language carries more information than writing does. I guess this is why video is sometimes better at documentation than just written text. Feedback is an important part of learning or idea transmission. Think of an email conversation bouncing between two people, versus a 2 minute conversation for the same thing. In Snow Crash, there was talk about facial expression being vital in conversation, so when they created the Metaverse it was incorporated into their avatars to aid in communication. Interestingly, we are more and more dealing with people through means where we haven’t met before or spoken. So we just deal with our minds view of them
Our online form, be it written (blogs, email, web pages, etc) or chats (IM) are representations of us, open for interpretation. This makes us faceless constructs of other peoples minds. Maybe this is better, without having an voice sound and accent or visual appearance to discriminate. Avatars in places like Second Life etc a probably not going to look anything like reality, and why would you necessarily want to anyway.
So .. is your mind’s construct of someone else accurate ?