[Paleopsych] NS: Email forwarding amounts to ritual gift exchange
checker at panix.com
Fri Jul 15 19:32:36 UTC 2005
Email forwarding amounts to ritual gift exchange
[Thanks to Laird for this.]
* 17:26 12 July 2005
* Will Knight
Forwarding a quirky email or an amusing link or video attachment to
colleagues may seem innocent enough, but it is the modern equivalent
of ritual gift exchange and carries with it similar social
implications, say US researchers.
Email forwarding is a familiar part of modern email communications,
and has spawned many an internet phenomenon, the Star Wars kid,
the Numa Numa dance, and Oolong the rabbit to name just a few.
Benjamin Gross at the University of Illinois, US, and colleagues
studied email forwarding behaviour by conducting informal interviews
among email users. He says forwarding emails plays a vital role in
constructing and maintaining modern social ties, despite the
phenomenon receiving scant attention from social scientists.
Forwarding a genuinely amusing or interesting link to a friend, for
example, shows that you are thinking of them and are aware of the sort
of content they like, Gross says. But passing an irrelevant or
out-of-date link on to contacts can be annoying, thus lowering the
sender's social status in the recipients eyes.
"If they are consistently wrong about what content is of actual
interest to recipients their reputation may drop in the implicit
system people must apply in order to [prioritise] their email," Gross
writes in a paper co-authored with Jeff Ubois at the University of
California, Berkley, and Marc Smith at Microsoft Research in Redmond,
both in the US.
The power of email-mediated social networks has, of course, already
been identified by marketing firms, who often try to exploit them
through "viral" marketing campaigns. This involves creating a video
clip or website that includes an advertising message and hoping that
it gets passed on via email to thousands of internet users.
Gross says email-forwarding networks could prove useful in other ways.
He points to a software project called Forward Track, which can
monitor email forwarding chains, making it possible for political
groups to keep track of those who have forwarded a political message
Microsoft has also developed software to map the networks created
through email forwarding. A prototype program called Social Network
and Relationship Finder, or SNARF, can be used to create a picture of
the social and business networks constructed through email
The researchers will present their paper at the Second Conference on
Email and Anti-Spam in California from 21 July.
* Teamwork will beat the spammers
* 12 May 2005
* A new game for Kevin Bacon to play
* 13 July 2002
* Small world networks key to memory
* 26 May 2004
* Second Conference on Email and Anti-Spam
* Forward Track
* Community Technologies, Microsoft Research
* Microsoft Research Cambridge
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