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Wherefore art thou Orbitofrontal Cortex?

There’s a great piece in the New York Times today that’s had me thinking about the importance of ICANN meetings, face to face interaction, and civility within the ICANN mailing lists.
The basic gist of the piece is that when we are interacting in an online environment we can’t pick up on emotional signs and social cues. These emotional signs are processed by our orbitofrontal cortex, which generally tells us to chill out if we see someone getting upset by our actions.

The point is made that if we are “lacking real-time cues, we can easily misread the printed words in an e-mail message, taking them the wrong way.” We are also more likely to respond in an agitated fashion because our orbitofrontal cortex doesn’t have anything to work with.

As a solution the author mentions a US school programme based on a stoplight:

red: stop, calm down, take a second.
yellow: weigh a range of responses and their consequences.
green: try the best response.

We don’t as yet have a stoplight programme in place at ICANN. When I was more into online gaming the discussion lists had moderators and ground rules in place to help deal with the orbitofrontal challenge.

Would be great to hear your thoughts on how we might encourage a productive and fruitful online debate despite the challenge identified in this article.

cheers, Jacob.

Comments

    Domain Name System
    Internationalized Domain Name ,IDN,"IDNs are domain names that include characters used in the local representation of languages that are not written with the twenty-six letters of the basic Latin alphabet ""a-z"". An IDN can contain Latin letters with diacritical marks, as required by many European languages, or may consist of characters from non-Latin scripts such as Arabic or Chinese. Many languages also use other types of digits than the European ""0-9"". The basic Latin alphabet together with the European-Arabic digits are, for the purpose of domain names, termed ""ASCII characters"" (ASCII = American Standard Code for Information Interchange). These are also included in the broader range of ""Unicode characters"" that provides the basis for IDNs. The ""hostname rule"" requires that all domain names of the type under consideration here are stored in the DNS using only the ASCII characters listed above, with the one further addition of the hyphen ""-"". The Unicode form of an IDN therefore requires special encoding before it is entered into the DNS. The following terminology is used when distinguishing between these forms: A domain name consists of a series of ""labels"" (separated by ""dots""). The ASCII form of an IDN label is termed an ""A-label"". All operations defined in the DNS protocol use A-labels exclusively. The Unicode form, which a user expects to be displayed, is termed a ""U-label"". The difference may be illustrated with the Hindi word for ""test"" — परीका — appearing here as a U-label would (in the Devanagari script). A special form of ""ASCII compatible encoding"" (abbreviated ACE) is applied to this to produce the corresponding A-label: xn--11b5bs1di. A domain name that only includes ASCII letters, digits, and hyphens is termed an ""LDH label"". Although the definitions of A-labels and LDH-labels overlap, a name consisting exclusively of LDH labels, such as""icann.org"" is not an IDN."