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Monday, March 16, 2009

I'm Not Into Time, Man

One of the cool things about working for yourself - especially if you work from home - is making your own hours. For example, it's 12:15am as I write this and I plan on typing-out several more posts before calling it a night. I could schedule them in advance - and I am going to write at least one post in advance tonight - but I think this plays into the cyberculture, in general, and I wanted to mention it.

Back in the BBS days, it was understood that 5am was mailrun. That was the standard, agreed-upon, time at which all BBSes processed their mail. Mail was processed by way of a batch file named "mailrun." These were standardized things everyone followed. Excepting FidoNet, you could run your mail whenever you liked, but FidoNet processed its mail at 5am and since it was (by far) the largest mail network, it simply made sense to run all your mail when you ran Fido mail.

There's literally nothing like that online today. It simply isn't needed. That's great in many ways, but it also contributes to the social "distancing" which so many experts blame on the Web. I'm writing this just after midnight and you aren't likely to read it for another few hours. By then, I'll either be asleep or even away from the house altogether. If you comment on it, I won't see it until I get back, and no one else will read it until it is approved - by then, you may be asleep or away from the computer. We all make our own hours (to be) online and though they may vary dramatically, the Web is basically "where we left it" when we return.

On the one hand, we're absolutely becoming more dependent on instant messaging and other forms of electronic communications, and this may be distancing us, socially; OTOH, the convenience of communicating electronically is leading us to communicate more. It is no longer necessary for both of us to be awake or by a telephone or fax machine, etc., for us to communicate. Not only can we communicate with others regardless of where either of us are, we can get in touch with others regardless of when one another is available.

If the experts are right, we are losing some of our social graces - specifically, our ability to effectively communicate in person - but that does not account for the fact that we are actually communicating more often. I think the trade-off balances-out.

© C Harris Lynn, 2009

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