I was conversing with a friend on my Sidekick when we got into a discussion about speech acts. I was trying to explain Derrida and Searle’s seminal tiff over Austin when i got frustrated. It was not the actual topic that made me upset but my inability to convey the significance of their disagreement. She was on her computer typing at normal speed and i was trying to peck out shorthand on my Sidekick. I got frustrated that i couldn’t get across what i wanted to.
I’m fascinated by the kinds of speech that suit the Sidekick and which kinds don’t. Anything that requires debate or nuanced speech fails on the Sidekick because i try to type fast and end up with sloppy, shorthanded text that is easily misinterpreted. And then i get frustrated, type faster and thus more sloppy to try to correct the conversational path quickly. Spiral to uh-oh quickly ensues.
Today, i was writing an email to someone about something that was emotionally charged and i realized that i was using super staccato speech patterns. I took a look at some recent IM exchanges and saw more staccato – they had blurred… emotional speech had the same pattern. Yesterday, i ran across old zwrite debates from 1997 and when i looked back today, i realized there was a big difference in language patterns. No shorthand, more articulated speech. I was also thinking about how Tom Coate thought that his blogging speech had really changed when he switched from Blogger to MovableType. I was also noticing that i often fail to use complete sentences on my blog now.. just thought bursts with lots of ellipses. I wonder how much a switch to AIM and then to the Sidekick changed things.
And then i started thinking about how sloppy my speech has been lately. I speak like i IM on my Sidekick – short, curt, coded… My speech has gotten super sloppy in recent years and i use my hands even more when i’m talking. I use whatever word comes to mind even if it doesn’t fit well and i speak through impressions rather than using sound bites. I realize that my writing has gotten sloppier too and i find it far far far more painful to write now than before. I’m not particularly proud of either of these manifestations.
I’m not sure where all of the cause and effects are but i am definitely wondering if my always-on IM life is affecting my speech elsewhere. I certainly see this with students’ writing but i’d always dismissed it as them not having learned to write yet. But if my writing and speaking is starting to look all IM like, what does that mean? What if this is the root of my frustration with writing these days? How do i get back to being able to write 10 page papers in one night in a jam session? What on earth is going on???