Human Expression in the Age of Communications Overload

By Richard H. R. Harper

Why we complain about communication overload even as we seek new ways to communicate.





Why we complain about communication overload even as we seek new ways to communicate.

Our workdays are so filled with emails, instant messaging, and RSS feeds that we complain that there's not enough time to get our actual work done. At home, we are besieged by telephone calls on landlines and cell phones, the beeps that signal text messages, and work emails on our BlackBerrys. It's too much, we cry (or type) as we update our Facebook pages, compose a blog post, or check to see what Shaquille O'Neal has to say on Twitter. In Texture, Richard Harper asks why we seek out new ways of communicating even as we complain about communication overload.

Harper describes the mistaken assumptions of developers that “more” is always better and argues that users prefer simpler technologies that allow them to create social bonds. Communication is not just the exchange of information. There is a texture to our communicative practices, manifest in the different means we choose to communicate (quick or slow, permanent or ephemeral).


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262083744 320 pp. | 5.375 in x 8 in 1 figure, 4 tables


$19.00 X ISBN: 9780262518147 320 pp. | 5.375 in x 8 in 1 figure, 4 tables


  • Harper guides us through an engaging narrative, captivating us with vignettes of studies in communication behaviour and concept technologies such as the Whereabouts Clocks that show the locations of your family members... This is a fascinating book: an easy, enjoyable read that is refreshingly backed by an academic rigour that is so often missing from sociology studies on this subject. It's a must read for all those looking to the future of communications.


  • Throughout, the book throws up the kind of nuanced observations that seem at first surprising and then just right: text-messaging is, at some deep level, a form of 'gift exchange,' and 'social networking' is as much for keeping the world at large out as it is for inviting new people in. Post that on your Facebook.

    The Guardian


  • A profound and searching inquiry into our thinking about communication. Harper's historical anchoring and nuanced interpretations add new insights into how the messages we send and receive make us who we are.

    James E. Katz

    Professor and Chair, Department of Communication, Rutgers University

  • What an amazing, fascinating book. It is so rare to come across a book that offers such new and important insights, and is highly readable.

    William Webb

    Head of Research and Development and Senior Technologist, Ofcom


  • Winner of the inaugural AoIR Book Award presented by the Association of Internet Researchers.