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Notes on Chapters 2,3,4. Chapter 2: Media Ecology Perspective. Defines CMC as the study of the way in which mediated environments support and extend human communication Uses the term social computing to refer to the tools that make this process possible

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chapter 2 media ecology perspective
Chapter 2: Media Ecology Perspective
  • Defines CMC as the study of the way in which mediated environments support and extend human communication
  • Uses the term social computing to refer to the tools that make this process possible
  • Media ecology focuses for the most part on fixed characteristics of media, an approach which not everyone appreciates
    • People appropriate technologies for their own purposes including those not intended by their designers
    • It is the social technologies which develop around the technical tools and platforms which are the important foci of study
chapter 2 interactivity digital natives
Chapter 2: Interactivity, digital natives
  • Author states interactivity a key characteristic of difference between mass and digital media
    • Definition of interactivity
    • Is this generalization true?
  • Mediated contexts appear to be replacing f2f as environments for interpersonal comm
    • Digital natives vs. digital immigrants
      • Do DNs regard this as an important or meaningful distinction?
chapter 2 advantages disadvantages definitions
Chapter 2: advantages, disadvantages, definitions
  • Principles of media ecology perspective
  • All technological change a deal with the devil (for each advantage, you have to pay the price with some disadvantage)
    • E.g. Being reachable all the time (an advantage) with being reachable all the time (a disadvantage)
  • HCI is considered to be part of CMC (part of the message system)
  • Human communication is never one-way
    • Equates mass media with one-directional flow
    • Do you agree?
chapter 2 biases of technologies
Chapter 2: biases of technologies
  • All comm technologies have distinctive biases, including
      • Space/time (does technology allow for communication across different times/places)
        • Conditions of attendance affect the kinds of messages exchanged
        • Is it true that online communicators generally interact while being physically removed from each other?
          • People text /IM each other in church, in meetings where they are physically co-present but they don’t “have the floor”, or when they are too lazy to go to the next room/office to talk to somebody, or want to have privacy that the circumstances (presence of others) don’t allow
chapter 2 relationship development
Chapter 2: relationship development
  • How does the absence of physical interlocutors affect the communicators’ feelings of privacy?
  • Why CMC is conducive to relationship development
    • Choose when to disclose demographic information
    • Choose when to enter and leave interaction
    • Project a favorable image through careful information control
    • Hide physical defects, shyness
  • And conducive to bad behavior as well
chapter 2 types of biases
Chapter 2: types of biases
  • Sensory bias (the author’s examples of a global network aren’t very good, but you can think of certain media as being biased in favor of vision, hearing, touching, and other senses)
  • Directional bias (one-to-one, one to many, many to many)
  • Political bias (e.g. separating people from their actions, greater anonymity, freedom to cross national boundaries) (to a degree; there really is no privacy)
  • Content bias (e.g. commercial TV in US biased toward entertainment rather than state control)
    • Not a great example; more to the point is thinking about what kind of material does not seem to work on what media, if in fact there are media that can’t be appropriated for just about any purpose assuming you have “authorship”
chapter 2 social media
Chapter 2: social media
  • Technologies become media environments when used to support social practices
  • Social media
    • Some earlier ideas about socialization of media; vary depending on degree of input and control by the message recipient, extent of interactivity (e.g., demonstrable modification of message content based on feedback)
      • Beniger-pseudocommunity (e.g. direct marketing, tailored health messages)
      • Parasocial interaction (Rubin and Rubin)-the communication is imaginary
chapter 2 one step or two
Chapter 2: one step or two?
  • In Internet age old idea of two-step flow of communication (with an opinion leader filtering media content) replaced by the “one-step flow” (Bennett and Mannheim)
      • Individual information/entertainment seeking skills and habits are supplanting the role formerly occupied by the “peer group”
      • Today, however, individuals are increasingly selective and in charge of their media environment, e.g. customization of their news feeds
      • They are also embedded in more loosely organized, dynamic social networks that influence media consumption habits and interpretation
chapter 2 avatars are people too
Chapter 2: avatars are people too
  • Other varieties of “interactivity” with persons (or their semblances) not physically present and perhaps not “real”
    • Agents
    • Bots
    • Characters
    • Avatars
  • Communication with friends, family members, colleagues, and strangers not physically present but “real”
chapter 2 social capital
Chapter 2: social capital
  • Social media-software that lets people interact with one another, build social capital
  • What is social capital? Two different meanings in the literature
    • Property of communities
    • Property of persons
    • Weak and strong ties
    • Bridging and bonding social capital
    • Examples of social media: MMOs, Wikis, SNS, IM, etc., Flickr, Facebook, YouTube, etc.
    • Author gives poor definition of social capital as “an informal social norm that promotes cooperation between two or more individuals” this is just totally wrong. Gets it right later in the chapter
chapter 2 social media and opportunities
Chapter 2: social media and opportunities
  • Social media provide opportunities to make desired changes in social practices, respond to felt needs for new affordances
    • E.g. (WSJ article on use of recommendations from Linked In becoming more commonplace in employment, possibly supplanting the “three letters”
    • Example of development of open source software, people subverting the existing ways of doing to achieve a common goal
chapter 2 affordances of networked communities mynatt et al
Chapter 2; affordances of networked communities (Mynatt et al.)
  • Affordance (Bradner) “the relationship between the properties of an object and the social characteristics of a group that enable particular kinds of interaction among members of that group". What does a technology “afford”? (this a little different from notion of fixed comm technology characteristics which sometimes focus on limitations)
    • Persistence- provide a context for activity and a backdrop against which to observe and evaluate change
    • Periodicity – a known set of rhythms and patterns which help in interpretation of events (e.g. typical length of time to wait for a reply; when new posts are likely to occur, etc.)
    • Boundaries (e.g. “rooms,” “groups,” spatial metaphors-boundaries determine who can “see” and “hear”
    • Engagement – different ways in which people can come together, number of participants, ways to engage (chat, mail, etc), formality of participation, opportunistic participation possible, etc.
    • Authoring- ability to design and develop one’s space, set boundaries, limitations, make connections through flexibility in user control over their information and how it is accessed/used
chapter 2 topics of social media analysis
Chapter 2: topics of social media analysis
  • Social media analysis
  • Research on presence (telepresence, immersions and physical, social and self-presence), and in particular co-presence in “CVEs” (collaborative virtual environments)
    • Example from mutual touch research
  • Research on trust in virtual environments
      • Software solutions especially in e-commerce
        • TrustE, digital certificates, ratings of sellers on e-Bay
      • Interpersonal trust
        • Social networks friend confirmations an attempt to address this issue
chapter 2 topics of social media analysis cont d
Chapter 2: topics of social media analysis, cont’d
  • The interplay between the physical and the virtual worlds (e.g. using the web to organize parties, meetups, cell phone GPS to locate nearby buddies for spontaneous meetings)
  • Political mobilization
  • Social support, especially in the area of health, and social networks
  • Peer-to-peer networks, file sharing: Is this interpersonal communication?
  • Blogs and their challenge to authority, “legitimate” sources; subscribers, linkages to other bloggers to form communities
chapter 3 machines as mediators
Chapter 3: Machines as Mediators
  • Polkosky starts off the chapter by talking about her experience with booking and taking a flight, noting that the whole event up until the time she was offered a drink by the flight attendant was mediated and involved no human contact
    • No human contact may now be the default mode for many kinds of activities, such as ordering books, registering your car with the DMV or renewing your license, moving money between bank accounts, etc.
      • One obvious impact of the internet has been to remove the human intermediary from many kinds of transactions and to vest their expertise in the technology
    • Transactions must depart from the norm to bring the human back into the loop (e.g. they have to tell you to remove some metal object from your person at security scanner)—there has to be a problem or special circumstance
chapter 3 cmc in journals
Chapter 3: CMC in journals
  • Author reports that only 6 percent of articles in major journals in comm and social psychology are about cmc and related topics
  • But, ;ooking at Human Communication Research, typically each issue of 5 or 6 articles will contain 1 or 2 papers on some aspect of CMC
  • Specialized journals have plenty of articles on the topic:
    • Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication
    • Computers in Human Behavior
    • New Media & Society
chapter 3 inadequacy of theory
Chapter 3: inadequacy of theory
  • The most widely employed theories of interpersonal communication developed before the advent of iPhones, IM, GPS, etc
  • Are not adequate to account for the variety of means of communication nor the variety of guises, human or otherwise, in which interlocutors present themselves
  • Are particularly not useful to help designers of advanced communications devices and technologies understand and anticipate how/if they will be used
  • There needs to be a relationship of “turbulence”, to quote our provost, between basic science and applications, so that the requirements of the applications drive the questions of the former, and the discoveries of the science enable the realization of the implementations
chapter 3 lean media
Chapter 3: lean media?
  • Author equates the terms computer-mediated communication and telecommunication (?)
  • Suggests that CMC may “disrupt” or “obscure” nonverbal or extralinguistic communication and that this has been the focus of research to date
  • She may be correct with respect to the early research (mostly laboratory-based) which operated from an assumption of deficiency (lean media, cues filtered out, etc.-media richness model- Daft and Lengel-what leads people in orgs to select particular media for communicating particular types of messages)
  • It is also true there is a significant body of literature (see readings on the “dark side” dedicated to exploring the negative ramifications of CMC)
  • But there is also the tradition at looking at the liberating and relationship-promoting effects of CMC (see Walther’s work on the “hyperpersonal” model)
chapter 3 other mcs
Chapter 3: other MCs
  • Some related kinds of communication technology to CMC
  • Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC): assistive technologies (text-to-speech web browsers, tactile interfaces, TTS aids for voice output for people who cannot speak) as well as older assistive technologies such as sign language)
  • Spoken user interfaces such as automated call centers where speech recognition may be one method used to understand the user’s needs and speech synthesis will be used to respond
chapter 3 machine translation
Chapter 3: machine translation
  • Real-time machine translation
    • (e.g. Narayanan and colleagues)-issues of co-presence, machine understanding of speech acts and conversational macrostructures
    • conversation is regarded as a cooperative enterprise in which we are trying to reach a common goal with our interlocutor and we expect utterances to be relevant to what has gone before. Thus we assume that an utterance is cooperative and that for example a seemingly irrelevant answer to our question is in fact related, and we have to solve the puzzle of how. Principle of conversational implicature (Grice)
      • E.g. Person A: Could you help me look for my glasses?
      • Person B: I have to leave for work in ten minutes.
    • B doesn’t give a yes or no answer and does not address her capability to help. so what does B mean to imply? How about this one? It takes a little more work, may be ambiguous
      • Person A. Could you help me look for my glasses?
      • Person B: I can’t find mine either
    • Presents big problems for machines
chapter 3 aac sui
Chapter 3: AAC, SUI
  • Research on these technologies have common concerns including usability, impact on relationship dimensions (formation and maintenance, information, face (to a lesser extent-impression formation) as well as technical features such as latency, compression, etc.
  • “At least one human partner is needed in a communicative system” True? Can’t my agent interact with your agent?
    • Ideally my agent would be autonomous (wouldn’t need me to supervise it), would be sociable, and would be able to learn from experience and especially its errors what I like and where to find it, and what the agents of others are like
  • One drawback to AAC and SUI systems and ways in which they differ from CMC may be the limitations the systems impose on vocabulary, and in some cases the need to extensively calibrate or train the system on individual users, as opposed to a mass application
chapter 3 dimensions of interpersonal comm
Chapter 3: dimensions of interpersonal comm
  • Author makes the claim that most theories of interpersonal comm are focused rather exclusively on relationship building and maintenance. I think this is a “straw man”
  • They also focus on relational decay, as well as other dimensions of interpersonal such as instrumental (task, information sharing) and face (impression formation, self-presentation).
chapter 3 personhood
Chapter 3: personhood
  • Does an interlocutor have to be human to have “personhood?
  • Attribution of human characteristics to computers, robots is well known
  • Ex. People make different types of attributions about the personalities of male and female robots, such as robotic dogs, and the robots’ vocabularies can be adjusted to increase this effect (gender-linked language)
chapter 3 personhood cont d
Chapter 3: personhood, cont’d
  • Humanness can be communicated (or made believable) through a rather minimal set of behaviors
    • It has been known for a long time in person perception research that you can generate an extensive “personality profile” from just one or two central traits, such as “warm/cold” and “intelligent/unintelligent”
    • You can also achieve the same effect with extremely brief fragments of speech, leading people to make attributions about the SES of speakers in which they have confidence.
    • Traits are readily inferred from behavior
    • In CMC context, what do we infer about a person who has a very long signature? who starts all email correspondence with “Dear Peggy (or person’s name)?
  • If the interlocutor evokes attributions of humanlike characteristics, does it matter if it’s human or not?
chapter 3 limiting assumptions
Chapter 3: limiting assumptions
  • In addition to the limiting effect of requiring interpersonal communication theories and models to assume that everybody’s human, requiring the assumption that interpersonal communication is distinct from other types may also be limiting
  • E.g. if we require that both parties have to have knowledge of each other as individuals, or that they must be interdependent
  • In what ways is, for example, a spoken user interface like interpersonal as we conventionally understand it, and it what way is it like mass communication?
chapter 3 limiting assumptions cont d
Chapter 3: limiting assumptions, cont’d
  • Are conceptualizations like one-way vs. two-way communication, or small vs. large size of audience for a message still useful?
  • Author makes the claim that “any communication with another entity is interpersonal” do you agree? If we don’t require that we have knowledge of the other, or if the goal of the interaction is not relationship building/maintenance, or if the influence doesn’t have to be two-way, then almost any interaction is interpersonal and theory needs to be modified accordingly
chapter 3 new competencies
Chapter 3: new competencies
  • Author offers as an alternative conceptualization of interpersonal communication the defining notion of “coordinating communication roles of interlocutors” two interactants in coordinating listening and speaking roles
  • Does this work? Does watching TV fit this definition? How about talking to your dog?
  • Mediated communication may require some new competencies
    • Increasing your tolerance for ambiguity
    • Increase your patience for giving and receiving feedback
    • Learning to make the most of limited situational and contextual cues
    • Learning a whole new set of accommodative and compensatory behaviors by which to regulate interpersonal distance and closeness
    • Learning/following scripts that guide mediated encounters but that depart from f2f scripts (e.g. truncated opening and closing sequences)
    • What else?
chapter 3 perception of sui systems
Chapter 3: perception of SUI systems
  • Four factors of perception of SUI systems
    • User goal orientation
      • The system would help me be productive
    • Speech characteristics
      • The system sounded natural
    • Customer service behavior
      • The system seemed polite
    • Verbosity
      • The system gave me more details than I needed (violated a Gricean quantity maxim)
  • Interesting that two of the four factors accounting for evaluating the quality of non-human interactions relate to the fidelity of conversational rule-following, e.g. that the interlocutor has to be polite and that conversational rules need to be followed
  • It is not sufficient that a f2f interaction has to be simulated; it has to be an idealized rule-following f2f interaction
  • Theory of mediated interpersonal communication has to account for the desire for the mediation to cure basic defects in human nature, such as impatience, rudeness, and love of the sound of one’s own voice
chapter 3 a model
Chapter 3: a model
  • Author presents a model of sorts (next slide) in which the effects of the individual difference and role occupancy characteristics of the interlocutors (human or otherwise) on cognitive and behavioral (and affective and behavioral intent?) on outcomes of interaction are mediated by dialogue variables (what the interlocutors say and how they say it) and moderated by communication mode (f2f, telephone, etc)
  • Do we know the difference between a mediator and a moderator?
chapter 3 a model cont d
Chapter 3: a model, cont’d

seems as if the way in which individual differences manifest themselves as well as the mediators are likely to be heavily determined by the moderator communication mode (e.g. vocal range, ability of the interlocutor to directly and discreetly control volume, etc.) so I am not sure these elements in the model are as independent as the graphic depiction would have them—individual differences may dictate choice of communication mode

chapter 4
Chapter 4
  • Newer technologies like blogging blur the distinction between mass and interpersonal communication
  • Email is an application that makes one to one, group and mass communication possible all within the same client
  • More useful to leave behind the study of the effects of any one technology and to instead study variables that cut across several technologies
  • This is necessary because technologies are appropriated by users and the uses change over time, providing additional affordances
  • What communication technologies do you think have changed the most since you first started using them?
chapter 4 f2f as gold standard
Chapter 4: f2f as gold standard
  • Focusing on f2f as the ideal form of interpersonal communication has the effect of causing all variables that might be of interest into a single measure of “how much this CMC application approximates f2f” and causes us to overlook other ways in which CMC makes for more efficacious communication
    • Do you agree? Do you think most people who study CMC focus on users’ perceptions of how much it approximates f2f as a global indicator, or do they focus on new functionalities and specific motivations for use?
chapter 4 like tv cmc has its own features that are not about being just like real life
Chapter 4: Like TV, CMC has its own features that are not about being just like real life
  • Author makes very good point in noting that TV scholars don’t usually study whether a TV broadcast of a sports event is as good as “being there”
  • What features of TV or TV related technologies are better than being there? E.g. why would it be better to watch the Olympics on TV than to be at the games?
  • TV is treated as its own symbol system with its own set of effects
    • Thus researchers are freed up to study all variables which might have effects, not just those which enhance the being there aspect
  • With respect to web, frees you up to study aspects of the medium which have no real-world counterparts available to the average Joe such as the ability to fly over people’s houses and check out their property and simultaneously find out how much it and all the neighboring houses are worth, or the ability to repeat and pass along a lengthy conversation word for word
chapter 4 ways to be better than f2f
Chapter 4: ways to be better than f2f
  • Technologies can sometimes provide better outcomes even if in some ways they are inferior to f2f
    • E.g. do limitations of web based conferencing via Skype or Webex justify the increased travel costs for f2f meetings among distributed participants?
    • It’s appropriate in any research design to consider what users’ or potential users’ motivations might be for using the technology
    • (see table next slide)
chapter 4 measuring motivations for using cmc affordances
Chapter 4: measuring motivations for using CMC, affordances

Online communities are useful for …

Information acquisition

Information exchange

Relationship development

Relationship maintenance

Social and emotional support


System function: Affordances of Engagement; Authoring

chapter 4 is it synchronicity searchability or what
Chapter 4: is it synchronicity, searchability, or what?
  • If f2f is not the primary criterion, what are the best indicators of efficacy of CMC?
  • Author compares email and IM, says primary difference is asynchronous vs. synchronous. Do you agree? Is real time interactivity the key difference?
  • Blogs vs. chatrooms. Is interactivity a major difference, or is it the archiving, RSS possibilities, searchability and public posting? Navigability?
  • The question has to be efficacy for what? Doesn’t efficacy have to be tied to your motivation for using a communication technology?
chapter 4 agency
Chapter 4: agency
  • Agency: “the degree to which the self feels that he/she is a relevant actor in the CMC situation”
  • Can you have a high degree of agency as a broadcast TV viewer under this definition? What about when you watch TV episodes on network web sites or download them from itunes? Or watch them from your DVR? Is this “customization”? How about the Facebook “fat bride” ads?
  • Appeal of customization and tailoring is in satisfaction of ego needs and ego referral (construal of self as important and at the center)
  • Further expands definition: “the extent of manipulability afforded by the interface to assert one’s influence over the nature and course of the interaction”
  • By this criterion, it would seem that of the affordances we have discussed “authoring” is a critical variable in what makes one CMC technology “better”
    • Again, better for what?
  • Is there a word besides agency for the same degree of individualism as a recipient? That is, if we have expanded our definition of interpersonal to the idea of coordinated roles, then part of the role is to be the audience or target. So in targeted advertising, tailored health messages, can we say these technologies provide more agency?
  • Can we say that the components of agency are authoring and customization?
chapter 4 agency and customization
Chapter 4: agency and customization
  • Author talks about the idea of receiver as source as something new and revolutionary when in fact in most models of communication each interactant is simultaneously a source and receiver
  • What are some applications which permit customization that are especially useful to you?
  • What are some applications, beyond email and IM, which permit authoring, that you find useful? E.g. wikis, forums, social networks, blogs
  • If I use the Pluck application with Firefox to obtain just exactly the news feeds and updates that I want and no other, this is customization, and agency
  • Is this interpersonal communication? Does it matter if we do or don’t define it as such?
chapter 4 technological implications of self as source
Chapter 4: technological implications of self as source
  • Technological implications of self as source
  • Evidence that being able to customize a news presentation and select the stories you want to read from a menu of headlines led to lower ratings of the quality and newsworthiness of the items than if you were told that other users had picked the stories
  • What would be the explanation for this?
    • Basic need of people to have social confirmation of their choices when no objective criteria of value are available
    • Author suggests its because greater customization creates greater involvement and more scrutiny of messages (consistent with ELM in that greater involvement creates greater attention to message content as opposed to source characteristics)
chapter 4 interactivity
Chapter 4: interactivity
    • Highly interactive (e.g. synchronous) and customizable applications are preferred by users because they give them a greater sense of self as source
      • Example, music downloads eliminate gatekeepers like radio playlists or prepackaged albums (but then there’s DRM) and give greater autonomy to self
  • “Interactivity an HIC affordance that allows for CMC in its ideal form”
chapter 4 reasons for power of self as source
Chapter 4: reasons for power of self as source
  • Power of self as source derived from these affordances of CMC technologies
    • Allows for the assertion of user identity (and superiority?)
    • Allows for greater audiences for one’s authoring and creates sense of greater import of one’s agency
    • Opportunity to create new content through original efforts or aggregation
  • Greater technological support for interactivity, greater richness of available media for authoring enhance the resources available to the self as source
chapter 4 agency model of customization
Chapter 4: agency model of customization

Tech variables contribute to greater user sense of self as source or agency

Interactivity conceived as set of affordances for enabling rich dialogue with system or other users; alternatively, message interdependence within an extended sequence

Modality-sensory enrichment of environment or self-representation

Navigability- allow for user to explore environment at own pace and choice of interaction mode

chapter 4 agency model of customization cont d
Chapter 4: agency model of customization, cont’d
  • Heightened sense of agency should produce a more mindful attention to content and hence deeper (central rather than peripheral) processing
  • Greater sense of self-as-source should have affective consequences in terms of personal identity in that the traits associated with the “true self” as opposed to the actual self should be more accessible in memory in the internet context
    • Actual self: traits that people believe they actually possess and are usually able to express to others in social settings
    • True self: traits that people believe they possess and would like to but are not usually able to express to others in social settings
chapter 4 agency model of customization cont d1
Chapter 4: agency model of customization, cont’d
  • Should have further behavioral consequences in that self-authoring or agency produces greater feeling of choice, self-determination, may increase motivation, to a degree: too many choices may lead to difficulty in making decisions or in being satisfied with one’s choices
    • Not everyone is comfortable with control and some may prefer that choices be made for them by others, for various reasons
    • Model focuses less on how the mediators affect cognitive, affective and behavioral outcomes and more on how the technological variables affect the mediator variable, self-as-source
chapter 4 agency model of customization cont d2
Chapter 4: agency model of customization, cont’d
  • Agency may interact with content attributes to affect outcome variables
  • Individual difference variables may also interact with technological variables; for example, with respect to health information seeking, people who are “blunters” may react very differently to the opportunity to exert agency than people who are monitors
  • Blunters may want to filter out negative information, prefer predigested expert content, not trust their own information seeking skills. Want to avoid rich sensory experiences such as color photos of skin diseases, etc- so may choose sites which don’t provide a lot of self-as-source opportunity