There's a classroom experiment where students are asked to write the letter E on their forehead. Some people orient the E towards themselves; others think more empathetically and draw an E that's readily perceived by others. When facing themselves, it's an example of an egocentric bias.
Point is, being egocentric isn't necessarily about being selfish or about social desirability, it's a tendency to see things in a limited way, from your perspective only. Like kids who can't yet put themselves in others' shoes.
I think we're egocentric in our communication patterns. Even though we're not charged for long-distance-- calls or emails-- we tend to talk to people really nearby. Think about the ever-enduring silos in organizations. HBS researchers studied >100M emails and >60M calendar entries from +30k employees at a complex corporation in 2006:
"Our analysis indicates that two people who are in the same SBU, function, and office interact about 1,000 times more frequently than two people at the company who are in different business units, functions, and offices, but are otherwise similar."We communicate with people who are within an arm's reach. This reminds me of the classic 1950's study of friendship in MIT housing leading to the adage (?) that proximity is the biggest predictor of friendship. At year's end, people reported being better friends with people who lived next door to them; people who lived near staircases reported being better friends with people on the second floor!
Are we communicatively lazy? How immersed are we in our full social graphs? Seems likely that we communicate in pretty isolated networks, not dispersed across our entire graph.
Consider Umair Haque's statement on how to be a 21st Century capitalist:
"Yesterday's businesses were built on cash, factories, and IP - financial, physical, and intellectual capital. Next-generation businesses are built, instead, on human, social, natural, and cultural capital - to name just a few."
If tomorrow's business is really going to be built on social capital, we need to figure out how to span our networks.