Gavia Libraria

What is the pragmatic significance of link-passing?

The Loon doesn’t often admit this, but there are times that her pragmatic competence (that is, her ability to understand the intent of another’s communication) just plain goes missing in action.

So she’ll ask her readership this one: what is the intent of emailing links to commonly-available news tidbits in someone’s area of expertise to that person? (Email specifically. Twitter is another animal altogether.)

The Loon has received hundreds, probably nudging into the thousands, of these emails. Ephemera like job announcements aside, only perhaps a dozen of these emailed links have been honestly new to her. She often finds herself swimming irascibly away from the keyboard thinking do the Loon’s colleagues truly think the Loon is derelict in her current-awareness responsibilities?

No, but seriously, what response, if any, is expected? The Loon typically either sends a quick “thank you” (followed, she confesses, by a tap of the delete button on the replied-to message) or a clarifying comment should one cross her mind. Is that sufficient?

And what is being communicated by the original email? Something like I’m thinking about this too? Something like Could we do this here? or Why aren’t we doing this already? or Why isn’t what you’re doing anywhere near this great? (This seems passive-aggressive to the Loon, especially when the link comes from someone in a leadership position, but that doesn’t disqualify it from being the actual intent.) Something like Hey, that thing you’re always on about, maybe it really is important?

The Loon doesn’t know. So she’s asking. What is this about?

6 thoughts on “What is the pragmatic significance of link-passing?

  1. bill

    If the sender can’t be arsed to provide context then I can’t be arsed to click through or reply. Done.

    But this only works if, like me, you are obnoxious enough to spell it out when that person wanders by your desk and wants to know what you thought of that link they sent you. “How was I supposed to know what you wanted, read your mind by email?”

    If, confronted with such a situation, you come all over polite and nice and normal, and make something up or give some excuse for not having read it yet, then you are doomed by your own hand and I can’t help. :-)

  2. Abigail

    I’m guilty of sending emails, though not often to the Loon. I do not follow faculty members in my liaison college on Twitter or Facebook, nor they me. There is enough forced social media engagement without that. However, if I see something in their area of research that is new in my feeds or something that is a particular interest of theirs, I will share it.

    Depending on the sender and with the most charitable reading, one hopes that the sender is trying to be helpful. I don’t expect follow up with the emails I send unless something didn’t open properly or sparked an idea with them that they want to talk about further and usually I’ve forgotten about it once the email is sent.

    My guess is many of these sharers don’t read as broadly as the Loon and do not realize when something may be showing up in six different places and is common news to her. He/she has only seen it once, thought it was important, and shared it with the person they thought it would effect the most.

    And yes, I have epic eyerolling as well when someone points me to something I’ve seen 18 times already. Or 18K times. Yarn-bombing, for example.

  3. Dances With Books

    Boss With a Fist here does that quite a bit. By now, the other librarians have learned it is just BWAF’s way of procrastinating. When we start getting links to things that a) we already know b) we have been doing for eons (often better, if BWAF would actually pay attention), or c) just inane, we know BWAF is reading blogs to avoid whatever administrivia BWAF actually needs to get done.

  4. gameronomist

    I find that it’s different depending on who is sending it. If it’s a library/information professional person, they’re usually wanting to either talk more about it, or just make sure I heard.

    If it’s a family member of friend, it’s their way of saying “thinking about you!”

  5. Steve Lawson

    I was going to say much the same thing as gameronomist said, except I think the “thinking about you” is true professionally, too. I think unless you are dealing with a particularly passive-aggressive person (and I know they are out there), they aren’t saying “why aren’t you doing this?” I think it’s much more likely they are saying “hey, I now understand this article a bit because of you.”