There was something about Adrian's thought-provoking post on the digital blurring between objects and people that reminded me of reading Grant McCracken's thoughts a couple of years ago on 'Phatic Communication' – the kind of communication that is all about sharing feelings or sociability as opposed to hard information or ideas. Says Adrian:
"things like Twitter and Facebook, flatten out the distinctions between people, objects, companies and ideas as all of these things (and more) now have the ability to create a profile, collect friends/followers, describe their tastes, preferences and affiliations and generally build data that describes them and their social graph"
As we make our way around the web, we leave vapour trails of data that define us. And not only the more tangible, obvious data like the profiles we create, the files we download, the websites we've visited, the searches we undertake, the videos we watch, the things we buy. But also the less tangible, 'phatic' data like the comments we leave, the interactions, the status updates, the tweets, the wall posts, the stuff we write.
Adrian makes the point that it is interesting to speculate about how language may hold us back from seeing the new possibilities that come from objects, ideas and people interacting at the same level. It's equally interesting to speculate about where an increasingly sophisticated understanding and application of this kind of 'exhaust data' might take us.