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Handbook of Research on Computer Mediated Communication

Handbook of Research on Computer Mediated Communication
Author(s)/Editor(s): Sigrid Kelsey (Louisiana State University, USA)and Kirk St.Amant (East Carolina University, USA)
Copyright: ©2008
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-863-5
ISBN13: 9781599048635
ISBN10: 1599048639
EISBN13: 9781599048642


View Handbook of Research on Computer Mediated Communication on the publisher's website for pricing and purchasing information.


Technology has changed communication drastically in recent years, facilitating the speed and ease of communicating, and also redefining and shaping linguistics, etiquette, and social communication norms.

The Handbook of Research on Computer Mediated Communication provides academics and practitioners with an authoritative collection of research on the implications and social effects computers have had on communication. With 69 chapters of innovative research contributed by over 90 of the world's leading experts in computer mediated communication, the Handbook of Research on Computer Mediated Communication is a must-have addition to every library collection.

Table of Contents



Considering CMC: An Invitation to Participate in a Greater Community of Knowledge

By Sigrid Kelsey, Louisiana State University and Kirk St.Amant, Texas Tech University

    Welcome to the Information Age, an age of instant access to the most diverse and arcane knowledge at almost no cost, and where electronic signals are starting to replace in value the bulky manufacture goods that used to define the wealth of nations, companies, and individuals. And this is just the beginning. From pg. 2 of Bernardo A. Huberman’s (2001) The Laws of the Web: Patterns in the Ecology of Information

Roughly two decades ago, concepts such as communication and community were thought of in terms of physical space. Within this paradigm, the individuals with whom one regularly interacted were persons who were physically “close,” and distance-based relationships often suffered from delays related to regular post mail and the costs of long-distance phone calls. Moreover, the community to which one belonged was also closely linked to real-world proximity. That is, one’s friends often lived in the same town or region, and social interactions – particularly frank and deep conversations – were almost exclusively done face to face.

Today, however, advances in technology and with computers have started paradigmatic shifts in communication norms. These shifts have, in turn, markedly affected human communication at almost every level. Technological advances certainly facilitate the speed of communication, making distance between communicators almost inconsequential. Moreover, the kinds of materials individuals can exchange via computer networks has evolved from simple, typed text to a range of real-time and time-delayed audio and video files. The effects of computers on communication, however, go far beyond factors of speed and ease of communication. Indeed, computer mediated communication (CMC) has changed the ways in which people socialize, conduct business, use language, and even form their own identities. Now, the community to which one belongs is often more a matter of participating in chat sites dedicated to similar interests vs. the walking or the driving distance between community members. As Stephen Doheny-Farina (1996) explains, CMC offers us, “the opportunity to construct utopian collectives – or communities of interest, education, tastes, beliefs, and skills. In cyberspace, we can remake the world out of an unsettled landscape” (p. 16).

Broadly defined, computer mediated communication can be described as any form of information humans present or exchange by means of a computer. This information can be imparted to oneself, to another person or group of people, or even to an imaginary audience. Likewise, CMC can be a one-to-many or one-to-one transaction, a synchronous (real time) or asynchronous (time delayed) process and involve modes of interaction as diverse as typed text, spoken discussions, or visual/video messages.

The types of software affecting CMC are numerous and increasing every day. E-mail, text messaging, video and audio players, social networking web sites, wikis, syndicated feeds, bulletin boards, and blogs are just some of the software enabling people to communicate.

Consider the examples of programs and software, and combine them with the number of hardware devices and networking available, and the ways in which people employ CMC multiply exponentially. Free wireless connections are commonly found in hotels, coffee shops, college campuses, downtown areas of cities, and bars. Iphones™ and Blackberries enable users to connect to e-mail, blogs and other CMC devices from almost anywhere. Cell phones can access the Internet, and advances in wearable computing are beginning to blur the line between reality and science fiction. Furthermore, the speed with which such technologies emerge and evolve – and the effects such changes can have on social practices – can leave one’s head spinning. As Mark Stefik (1999) explains, “in ‘Internet time,’ what seems like years of change can happen in only a few months” (p. xi).

This degree of connectivity has altered almost every form of human interaction. Romances can blossom online, and such relationships can lead to life partnering in which the loved ones might meet for the first time on their wedding day. Likewise, CMC has transformed the classroom from a physical place to a state of mind – a virtual place in which the mutual interests of the participants create learning communities that span the globe. The office has similarly melted into a merger of CMC and face-to-face interaction and created work relationships in which employees might never set foot in a corporate facility.

Moreover, these developments have made us all increasingly global citizens. Half a century ago, the prospects of meeting persons from other cultures was reserved for the few who were fortunate enough to travel abroad. By contrast, the first decade of this new century sees individuals from different nations coming together online to do everything from exchange ideas to work on projects to engage in video gaming. Thus, the CMC paradigm is not a phenomenon that is limited to one culture, region, or linguistic group. And as Internet communication technologies become cheaper and more varied in form (e.g., cell phones with Internet capabilities), the number of interlinked online global citizens will surely grow.

Like all new developments, such societal changes bring with them new benefits and new limitations, and we have only recently begun to come to grips with the impact online media can have on our lives. For this reason, the topic of CMC is and must remain one of continual exploration, examination, and discussion. Only through the continual exchange of ideas and opinions on CMC can any of us begin to grasp the richness cyberspace has to offer and the implications it can have for our real world existence. This edited collection is a step toward continuing the exchange of such ideas.

The sheer size of the CMC landscape is impossible to address within the pages of a single book – and perhaps within the text of an entire series of books. This Handbook however, presents 63 chapters that can provide readers with an introduction or a foundation to a number of key factors related to the CMC paradigm. The chapters contained in this Handbook represent the ideas, insights, and opinions of some 90 authors from numerous institutions – both public and private – and almost a dozen nations. While such a treatment is by no means comprehensive, it does bring together a relatively large range of materials that examine different facets and features of the same topic. As a result, this Handbook has information that would be of value to academics, researchers, industry representatives, educators, and lay persons alike. Thus, while this edited collection might not be a truly comprehensive or a definitive source, it is a far-reaching one that can be used to establish a foundation of knowledge across a wide range of readers.

With any reference work, the idea of creating categories for organizing information can be problematic. In many cases, an entry might fit well into a range of topical categories. In other cases, an item might not seem to fit well in any category or not be related to any other entry in a collection. While there is no perfect solution to this situation, the editors of this collection have divided the contents of this volume into five sections that we feel represent major categories of interest for the widest audience of readers interested in CMC issues.

The Handbook’s first major section, “CMC Approaches to Education and Instruction,” examines how educational and training practices have changed and might continue to change in response to advances in online media. The chapters in this section examine everything from the potential uses of CMC in higher educational contexts to how developers and designers can best prepare users for participation in CMC environments and the use of computer networks in everything from library instruction to midwifery.

The second section, “Credibility and Identity in Cyberspace,” examines how the plasticity and the open access nature of virtual worlds and online media are changing the ways in which we view both what is considered “credible” information and how we think about the identities of both ourselves and others. The chapters in this section cover topics such as the shifting nature of credibility in CMC environments and the use of CMC in both creating identities and deceiving others. As a result, the chapters in this section provide readers with a new way to consider what is “real” and how aspects of virtual and real worlds combine to affect our perceptions of who we are and how we relate to the world around us.

“CMC, Community, and Information Exchange,” the Handbook’s third section, provides different perspectives on how different technologies and social practices related to CMC affect how humans exchange ideas and opinions as both individuals and as parts of greater online communities. These chapters explore topics such as informaiton dissemination via online publishing, the nature of what it means to belong to a community, and how online media are affecting both our uses and thoughts on language and on sharing ideas and materials.

The authors in the Handbook’s fourth section, “Tools and Technologies Related to CMC,” present ideas and opinions on the uses and implications of different kinds of online media. These treatments cover more conventional modes of online communication, such as email, relatively new methods of discourse such as podcasting and blogs, and the implications of emerging technologies like optical transport networks and Web 2.0. By combining these perspectives of technologies into this section, the editors hope to provide readers with a foundation for thinking about online media – and the prospects it has for advancing human interaction – in new ways.

The Handbook’s final section extends this idea of interactions from the local to the global. Entitled “Cultural and Linguistic Issues in CMC,” the entries in this concluding section explore how the quick and easy international access provided by CMC is changing not only the ways in which we think about language and culture, but also how we view ourselves as members of a greater global community. The related chapters examine issues such as the rise of global culture as facilitated by CMC, the use of online media to teach individuals about the language and culture of different groups, and how media involved in international online environments is affecting the language we use for such exchanges.

Though this five-part format, the editors have tried to organize information into units that can help readers better understand the effects CMC is having on different aspects of our lives. The editors also hope that the chapters in this collection will spark reader interest in a range of topics and thus prompt readers to go out and participate in and contribute to the growing based of knowledge and opinions related to CMC. Thus, this book is an initial step in understating CMC, but one that is designed to encourage and empower readers to take the next step that can help us all better understand the evolving relationship between humans and computers.


Reviews and Testimonials

This publication has been indexed in the DBLP Computer Science Bibliography.


The editors of this book have taken 63 chapters of cutting-edge research and crafted them into a highly cohesive story of CMC from a multitude of perspectives for a wide range of technologies... a must for any course in mediated communication.

– Fay Sudweeks, Murdoch University, Australia

The Handbook of Research on Computer Mediated Communication is a book that is long overdue and sheds significant light on several aspects of CMC. I strongly recommend it.

– Bolanle Olaniran, Texas Tech University, USA

This comprehensive resource offers an exhaustive range of the many, very up-to-date aspects related to computer mediated communication. It is the world's number-one handbook in the field.

– Marc Hermeking, Ludwig Maximilians University, Germany

This is really a handbook to consult from in your daily work using CMC. It is a comprehensive collection of case work in many countries from all continents including intercultural aspects in a wide variety of applications. The solid volume covers unexpected surprises, such as deception in CMC negotiation, the psychology and identity development through personal websites, the growing culture of cyberspace, cyber bulling between adolescents, enhancement of psychotherapy through CMC, team cooperation through learning and using library services, serving disabled people. Moreover it includes linguistic aspects, not only in English. A big compliment who brought this together is extended by:
Jan Ulijn, Fellow of the Society of Communication and Jean Monnet professor of European Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Culture

– Jan Ulijn, Eindhoven University of Technology, The Netherlands

>"Its 69 chapters are far-reaching enough to establish a foundation of knowledge across a wide range of readers."

– Book News Inc. (September 2008)

Author's/Editor's Biography

Sigrid Kelsey (Ed.)
Sigrid Kelsey is a Librarian at the Louisiana State University Libraries, where she is the Electronic Reference Resources and Web Development Coordinator. Her research interests include online instruction, information literacy, information seeking behavior, and computer mediated communication. She has taught at Whitman College and for the LSU School of Library and Information Science and has worked to implement information literacy into the LSU curriculum. She also is an ex officio member of the Louisiana Library Association.

Kirk St.Amant (Ed.)
Kirk St.Amant is an Associate Professor of Technical and Professional Communication in the Department of English at East Carolina University. He has a background in anthropology, international government, and technical communication, and his research interests include intercultural exchanges via online media and international outsourcing. He has taught online and conventional courses in technical and professional communication and in intercultural communication for Texas Tech University, Mercer University, and James Madison University. He has also taught courses in e-commerce, distance education, and business communication in Ukraine as a part of the USAID-sponsored Consortium for the Enhancement of Ukrainian Management Education (CEUME).


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