Saturday, August 08, 2009

Proudly Breaking Wired's New Rules

When I found a front page story in Wired about digital manners (How to Behave: New Rules for Highly Evolved Humans), I was happy to see that some of the niceties of new media were being highlighted. Many of these matters of manners--such as "Provide subjects for all emails"--are being ignored simply because they're not well understood.

However, when I read the article, I was surprised to find how many of Wired's "rules" I disagree with--yes, I understand that some are jokes. It doesn't matter how many funny images of Brad Pitt and Quintin Tarantino you fit in, I still won't be following these:

- Turn off "Sent from my iPhone" email signatures -- I understand what they're getting at here. No one cares if you have an iPhone or not. However, unless you write messages on your phone exactly the same way as your do on your PC, then having some sort of indication that the message came from a phone is a good thing. When people first started mailing from their phones, I can remember hearing lots of "oh, that's why your message was so short" stories. I don't write which phone I have, but I do let people know why I don't have spellcheck.

- Leave your WI-FI open -- I've read this one a few times, trying to find the sarcasm, but I can't read it any other way than Wired is advocating turning off network security. It's not a question of messing over your neighbours--as the article suggests--it's about your privacy. Anyone can download network monitoring software and use it on your insecure network. Want your e-mail public? Go ahead... be an "altruist," leave your network open.

- Never BCC anyone -- This is just a dumb one. Blind Carbon Copy has been around since, well... since carbon paper, and obviously there's a reason that it survived into the era of e-mail. I don't have to come up with a philosophical argument for it, I can give you an actual one. When a support rep at Metalogix sends an e-mail to a customer, he or she will BCC an internal support alias and thereby give every support rep in the company access to every conversation with each customer. Incidentally, (read: shameless plug) the Metalogix Exchange archiving software allows there to only be one copy of each message in our network. CC isn't appropriate because the internal address isn't for public use. BCC is just right.

- Don't type BRB -- Why not exactly? If you get caught up for a few mins, the person you're chatting with will understand exactly what has happened. I believe one of the new rules missed in this article is to try to keep your online status accurate. If you're not there, I don't want to be waiting for you with the chat window on top. I want to go back to work.

- Don't follow more people than follow you -- By way of disclosure, I should mention that I currently have more followers than people I'm following (which is a small number), so this isn't affecting me personally. Somehow, I just can't imagine a scenario where I ask someone to follow me because I don't have enough followers to add Cheryl Ladd to my list. If I want to follow Cheryl's tweets or every actor who appeared in a John Hughes film, then that's what I'll do.

- yes you should follow all of Charlie's Angels (even the new ones)

- Don't send ecards -- I can only imagine that the Wired manners instructor feels that ecards are somehow insulting or valueless because they are more convenient than going to a brick and mortar store, buying a card (and a stamp, or course) and then mailing it. The problem here is that new media have reached out in many other ways that would be stuffed into the same category. E-mail, video messages, even twitter updates have all changed the way people send messages of consolation or congratulation. Sure, I love the fact that my sister sends me actual postcards when she travels--yes, she is one of the few left of my generation who do this. But the fact is that everyone can decide how they want to communicate and, oh ya, my sister loves to get ecards.

Evidently, the Wired 'new rule' I'll be following the most is "Sometimes you have to break the rules."

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