NM1101 Lecture 5: Computer-mediated Communication (CMC)

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What is CMC?
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– the transmission and reception of messages using computers as input, storage, output, and routing devices – eg email, blogs, online forums, electronic commerce
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What are the key characteristics of CMC?
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– synchronicity (time) – social presence (social aspect)
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Synchronicty
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– concerns with time – a key characteristic of CMC
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Asynchronous communication
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communication in which messages are exchanged during different time intervals – eg emails between two people of different countries and timezones
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Synchronous communication
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communication in which messages are exchanged simultaneously – eg Skype, Google conference
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Benefits of asynchronous communication
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– easily overcome time constraints and barriers – use of ___ can lead to more thoughtful and reflective discussions, e.g. more thoughtful discussions in online forums. Because participants can take more time to consider their individual responses before making them
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Benefits of synchronous communication
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– can generate and share more ideas and information than in FtF settings – element of parallelism involved in discussion
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Parallelism
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the ability of all participants in a group to enter information at the same time
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Group loss
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– the problem where in turn taking procedure, participants must compete with each other for opportunities to contribute to the discussion – causes the \”production blocking\” problem – renders the group to be less efficient in terms of idea generation; significantly reduces the exchange of information and ideas in FtF groups
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Disadvantages of synchronous communication
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– information overload problem due to parallelism • multiple themes at the same time • difficult to organise and coordinate group conversations – people tend to get lost, and feel difficulty in processing information – difficult to manage (common problem)
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Disadvantages of asynchronous communication
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– feedback delay • less interactive, less involving – difficult to manage (common problem)
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Social presence
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– the degree to which communication participants feel a sense of their interaction partners’ presence (and themselves) • FtF communication as the standard • often, CMC is considered to provide a low level of this
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Communication bandwidth in CMC
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– cues-filtered-out perspective – limited bandwidth – low level of social cues = less social presence = ineffective communication – not effective for building social/interpersonal relationship
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Implications of low communication bandwidth (CMC)
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– low social presence • communicators tend to feel that they are anonymous and depersonalised actors • focus on tasks and messages rather than on interaction partners (e.g. peers and colleagues) – promotes task-oriented communication
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Benefits of low communication bandwidth (CMC)
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– task orientation • be able to concentrate on tasks (idea construction, information exchanges, and reflection) • don’t have to make an extra effort to maintain social images in groups, etc – less fear of negative feedback • less evaluation apprehension • leading to more equal participation and creative ideas
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SIDE
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The Social identity model of deindividuation effects – assumes that individuals have 2 independent identities: personal identity and social identity • \”self\” as a unique individual (\”I\”, \”He\”) • \”self\” as a member of a group or social category (\”us\”, \”them\” \”we\”)
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Conditions that facilitate a strong group identity
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– clear common goals and missions – clear outgroup – salient group cues, e.g. uniform, etc –> when such conditions are met, the group membership strongly guides individuals’ behaviours and perceptions
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Social identification
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CMC conditions (cues-filtered-out) facilitate the formation of this: – deindividuation – group (or social categorical) cues are available in CMC – the mere fact that they belonged to the same group (or social category) can have more significant meanings in the absence of individuating cues – group membership becomes salient

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