Chapter 18. The Social Map

Talk is essential to the human spirit. It is the human spirit. Speech. Not silence.

—WILLIAM GASS

Conversation

IMAGINE A BUSY DINER ON A SATURDAY MORNING AND ALL THE CONVERSATIONS GOING ON THERE: a family at a table where parent and child negotiate about eating the eggs before the waffle; a couple making plans for the rest of the weekend; a man on a cell phone reconnecting with whomever he met on a date the previous night. There are also visible gestures, facial expressions, and body language woven into the activity of talk. Not to mention the newspapers and magazines being perused over coffee—conversations mediated by publishers and writers. There are also people texting via SMS, reading news and sharing stories ...

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