Imbrication – Not Just a Fancy Word


Imbrication refers to the overlapping of elements such as shingles on a roof. It’s used in communication theory to talk about how messages and information exchanged over time in the same or similar ways start to overlap and create a strong sense of shared meaning.

It’s a great word to describe what is happening as we continue the use of tools such as Facebook, email, and Twitter. Over time, their repetitive use is causing our physical and digital networks to intertwine and become difficult to separate. Even our strong tie relationships are so interconnected online and off that our digital interactions can be as  meaningful as physical encounters.

This was brought home to me last October when I went to visit my sister, who lives five provinces east. She pointed out that we hadn’t been in the same physical space for over a year. I couldn’t believe it at first, but never doubt your sister – she was right again.

When I analyzed why I hadn’t felt the lack of physical contact, I realized that our electronically mediated interactions were so rich it didn’t really matter. We call each other several times a week, post on Facebook, text and exchange pictures on our smartphones and, what I think makes the biggest difference, match wits on Scrabble. So we not only chat, we play.

As we learn more about the tools of the web and the more we use them, the more they add to our lives. With each new interaction, our digital and physical worlds imbricate, adding strength and integrity in our relationships and lives. Synergy between digital and physical realities contributes to the virtual becoming indistinguishable from the physical .

These past weeks of working more closely with my online world and blogging makes me want to build my network presence and continue to build in richness. I want to share a stronger network with Jodine Chase and others when they advocate for causes I believe in. I want to engage in a more active conversation.  So I’m going to invest more time building social capital online and participating in the generousity of the web to tend and grow my network.

I’m glad you’re part of it.


4 Responses to “Imbrication – Not Just a Fancy Word”

  1. Ah imbrication… Brings up memories last year. I also love the imagery of fractals to describe how spontenous and rich our relationships to each other can be.

  2. 3 Andrea

    You both bring a tear to my eye and a grin at the same time. At the time last year imbrication sort of made sense to me but this year it’s really been hammered home just through demonstration alone. Look at how our conversations (across how many mediums) are still keeping us connected even though the classes are over?! I love this!

  1. 1 The Information Prescription Part Four: Knowing the Options « judithdyck

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