How social networks work: the puzzle of exhaust data: Grant McCracken writes “Who on earth cares? What kind of communication is this? Can it be that we are using the internet to issue trivial facts about ourselves? Facts? The ‘fact’ that I am entertaining the cat is so staggeringly unimportant it fails to interest even the cat.
But there is another, anthropological, point of view. Exhaust data is, I think, a clear case of ‘phatic communication.’ This is communication with little hard, informational content, but lots of emotional and social content. Phatic communications doesn’t get much said, but it has social effects so powerful, it gets lots done.”