"Tu"-itter ? Antonio Casilli interviewé par BBC News (06 sept. 2012)

Sur BBC News, Rebecca Lawn interviewe Antonio Casilli, sociologue et auteur de Les liaisons numériques. Vers une nouvelle sociabilité ? (Editions du Seuil) pour analyser les codes de la communication sur les médias sociaux. Proximité émotionnelle, sens de la communauté et… fin du vouvoiement ?

[L’article a été repris par la presse en France (Le Monde, RSLN), Japon (Solidot), et Belgique (La Libre Belgique, 7sur7), Arabie Saoudite (Arab News), Lituanie (Lrytas).]

“Tu” is normally for family and friends, but when you’re communicating through @ symbols, joining networks and tweeting under a pseudonym, a formal “vous” can seem out of place, even to someone you’ve never met.

Antonio Casilli, professor of Digital Humanities at Telecom ParisTech engineering school, says the web has been used as a tool for breaking down social barriers from its very beginning, resulting in a distinctively “egalitarian political discourse”.

The pervasive pattern of speech on the web in the 1990s, he says, was “cyber-utopian California-style libertarian discourse, inherited from 1960s counter-culture”.  And the egalitarian spirit remained when the “participatory web” came of age in the mid-2000s, he suggests.  Social networking sites such as Twitter take this one step further, adopting codes “characterised by a heightened sense of emotional proximity”, such as friending on Facebook, he says.  Twitter, meanwhile, follows on from a long line of internet forums where users could be anonymous.

[…] Addressing someone as “vous” – or expecting to be addressed as “vous” – on the other hand, implies hierarchy.  It is, as Casilli puts it, “a major break in the code of communication… an attempt to reaffirm asymmetric social roles… a manifestation of distance that compromises social cohesion”.