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The Division Bell of communication infrastructure

Communication is the life blood of human existence. Cooperation is the mechanism through which humans achieve synergy. However, this requires a delicate balance between individual success and common purpose.

Humans are adept at communicating within small groups. This does not work without self moderation in any medium where anonymity, physical, emotional and professional distance play havoc in discussions. Harmless words in private may turn into public name calling or insinuations or caricaturing. Multiply this with lack of visual, tonal and "presence" feedback among participants and we have the phenomenon that we see today - a breakdown of common purpose and communication.

You can see this in many online communication media. You can find it in high profile articles or blogs if you go down far enough in the comments section. Instead of reading the article, you are treated to a pavilion view of "nature red in tooth and claw". It used to be Anonymous Coward that did this to Slashdot, but it seems it is now OK to be personally identified with such behavior.

Here one way it all starts.


what's in a name calling?
just words, no meaning,
if it so offends your sense
why, you should try heading for the fence

after all, we're (online) friends
anything goes, going by trends,
the past and present and future,
is mine to slice and suture,

I dare those who call on my act
to battle my emotion with tact
I challenge those who man this sphere,
Defeat less I am, don't force me out of here,

in my world are friends
who cuddle and coddle my ego
in your world are friends
whose rules of communication are crap, amigo

i shall break it all
i shall wreak havoc till fall
sinister proxies you are
for conspiring against the views of a star

i am the master of my corner
and I respect no one's honor,
whatever be my demeanor
I owe no one no favor


It is also, unfortunately, something we have to actively fight against, if we have to preserve the value of communication. It is also easier said than done, and the folks who habitually do this online are to be prized for their ability to steer clear of the division bells.

The Division Bell used to be a call to vote FOR common purpose. But where has purpose gone?

Is there a way around this? Silence?

Let's look at an optimistic strategy next.

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