October 3, 2009

The Genealogy of Netiquette

Trolling through the public waves on Google Wave is a fascinating experience; there's a freewheeling atmosphere to it reminiscent of the early days of the Web. It won't last, I fear, once it's opened up to the public: Right now the community of Wave users is small enough and homogeneous enough (i.e., conscientious tech-savvy folk) that one could drop in on any of the public waves, like a BBS or chat room, and participate meaningfully in the conversation. When the spammers, the trolls, the flamewar-mongers, and all the other riffraff of the Net are allowed in, public waves won't be nearly as fun.

That's why I'm transfixed by the discussions attempting to outline what the rules of etiquette for Google Wave should be. (As it turns out, the main topic of discussion on Google Wave is... how to use Google Wave.) Some have suggested importing rules of behavior from other venues, including BBS, chat rooms, wikis, etc.; but I suspect that, though Google Wave incorporates a lot of other web media, its users will have to evolve new forms of etiquette to make it a worthwhile experience. For example, what does it mean to have personal or colloquial forms of communication (e.g., IM or blog comments) subject to editing by other users, as in wikis? Who can be said to be the owner or person in control of a wave, if those terms have any meaning in this case at all? What is the rule for deciding if a person should be included in a wave, given that one can anyone can add any of their contacts to a wave without their permission? The process by which these questions are answered will no doubt be messy, but I look forward to seeing how it turns out.

No comments:

Post a Comment