Monday, 11 May 2009

More than knoweing

Not long ago I suggested we need a new word - knowe - for people we have met electronically, but never face-to-face. What surprises me when I think about it, is how big a chunk of my life involves electronically supported relationships. Let's take a few examples:
  • My editor at St Martin's Press in New York, Michael Homler. We've never met. I think we've spoken on the phone once. That apart, all our contact has been by email (if you don't count proofs coming by snail mail) - but I'd say we have a great working relationship.
  • I follow Stephen Fry on Twitter. Yes, I'm one of the half million or so sad people. Yet I feel a strange closeness from those bon mots he flings out into the e-sphere.
  • I've just helped someone with a proposal for a major training contract. We've met twice - one of the times to work together successfully, but almost our entire working interaction has been electronic.
  • I'm going to Swindon Festival of Literature tonight to see Emma Darwin in action. I've never been in the same room as her before, but because we're on the same writers' forum (and, yes, friends on Facebook), I feel I know her.
  • As I've mentioned elsewhere, one of my websites sells CDs of organ accompaniments for church music. The organist and his producer live in Nottingham, 140 miles away. We've never met and only spoken on the phone a few times. Our whole working relationship has been built electronically.
  • I do, I admit, meet my agent two or three times a year in the real world, but our working relationship is mostly driven by email and Skype.
... and I could go on at even greater length.

There are those who would moan and groan and gnash their teeth at this. The breakdown of society, with relationships replaced by pale electronic equivalents, they would say. Rubbish. This is an enhancement, building on the real world stuff. And as someone whose working life inevitably involves being shut away in a room on my own quite a lot, I can only say I'm very grateful for it.

To finish with a bit of culture, although I've never met the organist I work with, I've seen him at work, and you can too:


  1. Yes, exactly! I don't know what I would do without all the people I "knowE", they are often my lifeline, my true support network. Enhancement, most definitely!

  2. I agree, heartily. I mean, I've only met you once, Brian, but you are one of the people I knowE best. We've chatted on skype, sent emails to each other, swapped useful technical tips, all at hardly less than the speed of thought, and considerably quicker than National Express can accommodate. Mrs Crox and I have found that we can put up with most inconveniences, but being without a connection drives us barmy, very quickly.

  3. I completely agree! And thanks for the organ music.

  4. Greetings from the Nottingham connection!
    Those are all valid points Brian, and we consider you as a good friend, although almost all our exchanges have been by e-mail!