Always On: Language in an Online and Mobile World

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In Always On, Naomi S. Baron reveals that online and mobile technologies—including instant messaging, cell phones, multitasking, Facebook, blogs, and wikis—are profoundly influencing how we read and write, speak and listen, but not in the ways we might suppose. Baron draws on a decade of research to provide an eye-opening look at language in an online and mobile world. She reveals for instance that email, IM, and text messaging have had surprisingly little impact on student writing. Electronic media has magnified the laid-back "whatever" attitude toward formal writing that young people everywhere have embraced, but it is not a cause of it. A more troubling trend, according to Baron, is the myriad ways in which we block incoming IMs, camouflage ourselves on Facebook, and use ring tones or caller ID to screen incoming calls on our mobile phones. Our ability to decide who to talk to, she argues, is likely to be among the most lasting influences that information technology has upon the ways we communicate with one another. Moreover, as more and more people are "always on" one technology or another—whether communicating, working, or just surfing the web or playing games—we have to ask what kind of people we are becoming, as individuals and as family members or friends, if the relationships we form must increasingly compete for our attention with digital media.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Naomi Baron artfully combines historical surveys, research summaries, and findings of her own to give us a comprehensive, insightful, and thoughtful handbook for understanding electronic communication-what it is, how it works, and how it's changing our lives and our interpersonal relationships." —Deborah Tannen, Georgetown University, author of You Just Don't Understand and You're Wearing That? Understanding Mothers and Daughters in Conversation

"Naomi Baron skillfully weaves together cutting-edge technology topics with historical vignettes, and scholarship with provocative views. She is not afraid to take a stance on hot-button issues, be it the effects of the Internet on language change, whether writing done in electronic media is debasing standards for the written word, or whether we are changing fundamentally as social and thinking beings as a result of being constantly connected through technology." — Susan C. Herring, Professor of Information Science and Linguistics, Indiana University

"Naomi Baron's wonderful book points out the many unique and fascinating aspects of what we now take for granted: the emerging languages of the Internet and cell phone. She skillfully explains how these new technologies are transforming the ways in which we communicate, along with how we relate to each other in everyday life."-Barry Wellman, S.D. Clark Professor of Sociology, University of Toronto

"In Always On Naomi Baron analyzes the ebb and flow of language as it confronts ever-new forms of mediation. She is on the forefront of examining how technology and language interact and how they form the lens through which we see the world. Baron helped us understand the effect of email on language in her prize-winning book From Alphabet to Email. Now she uses the same keen insight and crackling good prose to examine instant messaging, mobile based text messages, online social networking, and the effects electronically-mediated communication is having upon our language and upon ourselves." -Rich Ling, Senior Researcher, Telenor

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199735440
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 3/3/2010
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Naomi S. Baron is Professor of Linguistics at American University in Washington, DC. A leading authority on language use in the age of the computer, she has studied instant messaging, text messaging, mobile phone practices, multitasking behavior, and Facebook usage by American college students, along with cross-cultural mobile phone use. She is the author of six earlier books, including Alphabet to Email: How Written English Evolved and Where It's Heading. Baron has been interviewed in such media as Good Morning America, ABC News 20/20, CNN, the Diane Rehm Show, Fresh Air, PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, All Things Considered, Morning Edition, BBC, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, and Wired Magazine.

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Table of Contents

1. Email to Your Brain: Language in an Online and Mobile World
2. Language Online: The Basics
3. Controlling the Volume: Everyone a Language Czar
4. Are Instant Messages Speech? The World of IM
5. My Best Day: Managing "Buddies" and "Friends"
6. Having Your Say: Blogs and Beyond
7. Going Mobile: Cell Phones in Context
8. "Whatever": Is the Internet Destroying Language?
9. Gresham's Ghost: Challenges to Written Culture
10. The People We Become: Costs of Being Always On

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