Wednesday, February 27
I'm a professional communicator, and thanks to the remote business relationships I maintain online, a lot of my communication is in writing. So I'm very interested in studying how written communication is changing thanks to the influence of the interweb.
A few years ago there was the migration of emoticons from instant messaging and SMS to casual online relationships, eventually appearing in mainstream marketing and even business communication.
At the moment I see people beginning to adopt the all-lower-case capitalisation seen in microblogging and social networks, and the 'signature' - the end of your message where you leave your name as you would your handwritten signature on a letter - is going out of style. Don't even get me started about people who use 'lolcat' phrases...
Just because new styles are adopted doesn't mean they're widespread or permanent - you don't want to be the last person in your peer group to still be typing "lol" when everyone has moved on to "lolz". Just as saying, "OK" instead of "I understand" changes how you're perceived in a verbal discussion, these non-verbal cues you use will affect how you're perceived in a written discussion.
I found this post on PsyBlog when reading Kate Carruther's blog - the results of a study on the effects of using capitalisation and emoticons are both expected and surprising.
As I expected, correctly capitalising what you write improves the reader's perception of you, but while I thought emoticons would have the reverse effect, they also improve the reader's perception of you. CEOs of Australia, start using smileys!
Don't use them when communicating with software developers though, since the study also found that the effect of capitalisation and emoticons was minimal or even reversed when read by introverted and emotionally unstable people.
I've subscribed to Psyblog. Goin' psycho!