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Cultural Aspects Of Communication Online

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Cultural Aspects of Communication Processes Online: Identity, Gender, and Language in Synchronous Cybercultures. Charlotte N.(Lani) Gunawardena. Professor

Cultural Aspects of Communication Processes Online: Identity, Gender, and Language in Synchronous Cybercultures. Charlotte N.(Lani) Gunawardena. Professor

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  • 1. Cultural Aspects of Communication Processes Online: Identity, Gender, and Language in Synchronous Cybercultures Charlotte N.(Lani) Gunawardena Professor University of New Mexico USA EDEN 08 Annual Conference June 11-14 June, Lisbon
  • 2. How Do We Learn? Where Do We Learn?
    • How do diverse sociocultural contexts shape communication processes online?
    • What are the communication conventions naturally developed by Internet users when they use the medium informally?
  • 3. Morocco Arzou AinLeuh Ifrane Fez
  • 4. Sri Lanka Galle Batticaloa Colombo Kandy
  • 5. Purpose
    • Generate a conceptual framework of sociocultural factors in visually anonymous synchronous chat by studying the informal use of the medium (often to build relationships with strangers)
  • 6. Research Questions Focused on:
    • How is identity expressed in informal visually anonymous online chat?
    • Are there gender differences in the negotiation of identity?
    • How is language used to express identity and communicate online?
  • 7. Study Design
      • Qualitative, ethnographic perspective to examine communication conventions and conduct interviews
      • Grounded theory building to develop a conceptual framework
      • Focus group and individual interviews conducted in Moroccan Arabic, French, Sinhala, Tamil & English
      • Interdisciplinary research team of 4: USA (1), Morocco (2), Sri Lanka (1).
  • 8. Similarities and Differences in the Study Contexts
    • Morocco – Arab, Berber, Muslim, Mediterranean African country, more recently colonized by the French, speaking Standard Arabic, Moroccan Arabic, Berber, and French
    • Sri Lanka – Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslim country, predominantly Buddhist, more recently colonized by the English, speaking Sinhala, Tamil, and English.
  • 9. Participants
    • General public who used Internet Cafés and university students who used the Internet in campus labs
    • Specifically those who used chat to communicate with people they do not know
    • Morocco – 55 adults (36 males, 19 females)
    • Sri Lanka – 50 adults (33 males, 17 females)
  • 10. Findings: Emerging Conceptual Framework
    • Identity
      • Trust building
      • Self disclosure
        • Gender differences
    • Innovation of language forms to express identity and generate immediacy
  • 11. Tokens of Identity
    • ASL (Age, Sex, and Location)
    • Depending on context will reveal true identity, create a different identity, or blend identity in and ID (e.g.: “lone wolf”)
    • Moroccan concept of self is collective –calling on traits of groups to establish identity
    • Moroccans often caught between the “high context” world of Moroccan culture and the “low context” world of their European interlocutors
  • 12. Identity Play
    • Anonymity - more open expression of identity –need not conform to social expectations of stating sex, geographical origin, class, age, etc.
    • Age and sex are more important than location when expressing identity. Location hinders access.
    • Stereotyping takes place more easily in text only environments (e.g.: Mohammed to “Green Python” to gain access to people)
    • Identity can be changed to appeal to different audiences
  • 13. Crossing Boundaries
    • Role play in anonymous chat – Posing as Europeans or claiming a different gender identity
    • Construction of cybernetic identities enabled disenfranchised persons and communities to deal with exclusion & marginalization. Eg: AinLeuh – where the café is the domain of men, women make connections with men outside their community through the Internet
  • 14. Identity and Trust Building
    • Techniques to determine trust worthiness:
      • Asking a series of questions in the initial encounter and asking the same questions later to determine consistency
      • Extensive exaggeration usually signals someone faking “gender”
      • Mobile phones to verify authencity
  • 15. Trust Building and Use of Media
    • Chatters have “heirarchized” methods of communication:
      • Chatting – low risk, easy to dismiss
      • E-mail – more personal and presents a larger risk than chat. More serious and honest when compared to chat.
      • Mobile phones – are riskier and incorporate a level of trust.
  • 16. Identity, Trust Building and Self Disclosure
    • Disclosure of private life and personal experiences increases trust building
    • Self disclosure and building trust enhances social presence
    • Anonymity increases ability to self-disclose.
    • Anonymity also encourages superficial relationships
  • 17. Gender Differences
    • Virtual identities breach the dichotomy of public and private space in Moroccan society (Graiouid 2004). Females enjoy the anonymity which allows them to build relationships without compromising themselves.
    • Sri Lankan women less comfortable with self-disclosure online
  • 18. Gender Differences
    • Women will take the extra effort to resolve misunderstandings even if the relationship is not that strong
    • Females reported being harassed online, and therefore, were more cautious
  • 19. Language
    • Native language is transliterated on the Latin keyboard to increase social presence
  • 20. I. MNIN DEFNOU’H MA ZA’ROU’H (“Since they buried him, they forgot about him,” an expression which means “After you used me, you forgot me”)   3 7 9 ع ح ق   II. Why = 3lach ( ع )   III. Salam 3alikoum ! (Greeting)   IV. Numbers used to express Arabic characters and sounds 3 -> ع (ain) 9 -> ق (kah) 8 -> ه (hah)     Moroccan Arabic in Latin Script:
  • 21. Examples of Sinhala written in English: Ayubowan – How are you? Paw – I feel sorry for you Hondai – good   Examples of Tamil written in English: Aniyayam – what a waste!
  • 22. Language of Chat
    • Different idioms to express realness- feel of the conversation
    • Ideas or opinions that acknowledge chatter’s culture
    • French used for polite conversations, Moroccan Arabic to deal with conflict and difficult situations
    • Emoticons
    • Using other media- cell phones, webcams, e-mail
    • Challenge- in a high context culture, providing context when typing is difficult
  • 23. Language (continued)
    • Paralanguage –a method for communicating social information – imagined ID, or pseudonym
    • Different font sizes and colors:
      • To enhance photos
      • Comic sans for friends
      • Arial and Century Gothic for more formal communication
  • 24. Implications for Learning Cultures
    • Expression of identity is important for relationship building, but self-disclosure is not easy, especially for women. Developing protocols for introductions will help
    • Creation of identity enables one to experience the world in a new way – will lend itself well to role play & simulations
    • Anonymity is important to facilitate honest dialogue on controversial issues
  • 25. Implications for Learning Cultures
    • Posting photos with introductions can lead to stereotyping and reduce anonymity. It is important to devise other means of self-disclosure and provide a comfort zone especially for women
    • Context is key to understanding messages and participants should be encouraged to provide context to enable the deciphering of a message
  • 26. Future Considerations:
    • How is identity, gender and language expressed in virtual worlds such as Second Life?
  • 27. Reference
    • This study will be published as a book chapter in the forthcoming book on “ Learning Cultures ” edited by Robin Goodfellow and Marie Noelle Lamy of the Open University, U.K., to be published by Continuum.
  • 28. Acknowledgements
    • U.S. Dept. of State Fulbright Regional Research Scholarship 2004-2005
    • Research Assistants:
      • Fadwa Bouachrine, Al-Akhawayn University, Ifrane, Morocco
      • Ahmed Idrissi Alami, University of Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah, Fez, Morocco
      • Gayathri Jayatilleke, Open University of Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka