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Theorizing the Future of Computer-Mediated Communication:<br />The Changing Role of Self-Presentation, Audience, and Inter...
Let’s take a walk through CMC’s past…<br />1. Computer-mediated communication is not a new phenomenon.<br />2. Theories of...
CMC is as old as the Internet<br />3<br />Usenet (1979)<br />Best-known and widely researched online discussion forum.<br ...
CMC is as old as the Internet<br />4<br />The WELL (1985)<br />Became widely known through Howard Rheingold’s book, “The V...
CMC is as old as the Internet<br />5<br />AOL connected millions of people to the Internet and served as both an ISP and a...
6<br />
CMC is as old as the Internet<br />7<br />Online dating sites serve a very specific purpose: finding someone to date (casu...
CMC is as old as the Internet<br />8<br />Boyd and Ellison (2007) define SNSs as “web-based services that allow individual...
Let’s take a walk through CMC’s past…<br />1. Computer-mediated communication is not a new phenomenon.<br />2. Theories of...
Theories of CMC<br />10<br />Cues-filtered-out approach (Culnan & Markus, 1987)<br />Dominant in 1980s and into the 1990s<...
Theories of CMC<br />11<br />Social Information Processing (SIP) Theory (Walther, 1992)<br />Direct response to cues filte...
Theories of CMC<br />12<br />Hyperpersonal Model (Walther, 1996)<br />Sometimes, the unique affordances of CMC allow indiv...
Theories of CMC<br />13<br />Social Identity Model of Deindividuation Effects (SIDE; Reicher, Spears, & Postmes, 1995 )<br...
Let’s take a walk through CMC’s past…<br />1. Computer-mediated communication is not a new phenomenon.<br />2. Theories of...
Evolution of CMC<br />15<br />CMC’s early features:<br />Asynchronous<br />Examples: Email, discussion forums<br />Benefit...
Evolution of CMC<br />16<br />CMC in 2011 is: <br />(1) Highly interactive <br />(2) Highly visual<br />(3) Synchronous, n...
The Problem<br />17<br />CMC has changed…<br />BUT<br />the theories that attempt to predict, explain, and control it have...
Enter my research…<br />18<br />https://www.msu.edu/~nellison/TOIL<br />
Enter my research…<br />19<br />What do we study?<br />The relationship between Facebook use and social capital:<br />We h...
Enter my research…<br />20<br />Problems with this research:<br />Atheoretical?<br /> Does not account for two inter-relat...
What’s audience got to do with it?<br />21<br />danahboyd (2008) identified three dynamics that differentiate networked pu...
Selective Self-Presentation via CMC<br />22<br />Goffman’s (1959) dramaturgical approach: <br />… a performer tends to con...
23<br />Selective Self-Presentation in our SNS Profiles<br />Profile Picture<br />Highlighted Pictures<br />Friends<br /><...
Who are they?
Who is highlighted?</li></ul>Status updates<br />
24<br />Communication Channels on SNSs<br />Public: Status Updates, Comments, Likes, Posting Photos, Sharing Links <br />P...
Blurring of Public and Private<br />25<br />Marwick and boyd (2011): <br />“We may understand that the Twitter or Facebook...
Blurring of Public and Private<br />26<br />
Blurring of Public and Private<br />27<br />Canadian woman on medical leave dropped from insurance for not looking depress...
Blurring of Public and Private<br />28<br />Eagles employee fired over status update (story)<br />
But what does it all mean?<br />29<br />
But what does it all mean?<br />30<br />We cannot rely on older theories of CMC to explain current  user experiences.<br /...
But what does it all mean?<br />31<br />We cannot rely on older theories of CMC to explain current  user experiences.<br /...
32<br />
33<br />Jessica Vitak   |   Theorizing the Web   |   April 9, 2011<br />
But what does it all mean?<br />34<br />We cannot rely on older theories of CMC to explain current  user experiences.<br /...
Looking forward<br />35<br />How can we theoretically explain the communication and relationship building that occurs onli...
Can we adapt existing social science theories explaining offline interaction?</li></ul>Jessica Vitak   |   Theorizing the ...
Looking forward: Where to start?<br />36<br />Equity Theory (Adams, 1965)<br /><ul><li>Distribution of resources in a dyad...
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Theorizing the Future of Computer-Mediated Communication: The Changing Role of Self-Presentation, Audience, and Interaction

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Presentation at Theorizing the Web conference in College Park, MD on April 9, 2011.

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Theorizing the Future of Computer-Mediated Communication: The Changing Role of Self-Presentation, Audience, and Interaction

  1. 1. Theorizing the Future of Computer-Mediated Communication:<br />The Changing Role of Self-Presentation, Audience, and Interaction <br />Jessica Vitak | @jvitak<br />Michigan State University<br />Theorizing the Web | April 9, 2011<br />
  2. 2. Let’s take a walk through CMC’s past…<br />1. Computer-mediated communication is not a new phenomenon.<br />2. Theories of CMC have evolved with the technology.<br />3. BUT this evolution cannot keep pace with technological developments.<br />2<br />Jessica Vitak | Theorizing the Web | April 9, 2011<br />
  3. 3. CMC is as old as the Internet<br />3<br />Usenet (1979)<br />Best-known and widely researched online discussion forum.<br />Newsgroups for every topic imaginable.<br />See Baym (1998) & Donath (1999) for examples of research using Usenet. <br />Jessica Vitak | Theorizing the Web | April 9, 2011<br />
  4. 4. CMC is as old as the Internet<br />4<br />The WELL (1985)<br />Became widely known through Howard Rheingold’s book, “The Virtual Community”<br />Strong geographic component. <br />Highlighted the modality-switching capabilities of the Internet.<br />Jessica Vitak | Theorizing the Web | April 9, 2011<br />
  5. 5. CMC is as old as the Internet<br />5<br />AOL connected millions of people to the Internet and served as both an ISP and as a homebase for establishing an online identity.<br />AOL Chat Rooms enabled large-group pseuodonymous, synchronous interactions.<br />AIM (1996) enabled synchronous one-to-one interactions.<br />Jessica Vitak | Theorizing the Web | April 9, 2011<br />
  6. 6. 6<br />
  7. 7. CMC is as old as the Internet<br />7<br />Online dating sites serve a very specific purpose: finding someone to date (casually or seriously) <br />Modality switching. <br />Static profiles  asynchronous communication  synchronouscommunication  face-to-face meetings. <br />See Ellison, Gibbs & Heino’s (2006) research for more.<br />Jessica Vitak | Theorizing the Web | April 9, 2011<br />
  8. 8. CMC is as old as the Internet<br />8<br />Boyd and Ellison (2007) define SNSs as “web-based services that allow individuals to: <br /> (1) construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system;<br /> (2) articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and <br /> (3) view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system.”<br />Jessica Vitak | Theorizing the Web | April 9, 2011<br />
  9. 9. Let’s take a walk through CMC’s past…<br />1. Computer-mediated communication is not a new phenomenon.<br />2. Theories of CMC have evolved with the technology.<br />3. BUT this evolution cannot keep pace with technological developments.<br />9<br />Jessica Vitak | Theorizing the Web | April 9, 2011<br />
  10. 10. Theories of CMC<br />10<br />Cues-filtered-out approach (Culnan & Markus, 1987)<br />Dominant in 1980s and into the 1990s<br />CMC is impersonal; less social/personal; leaner than in-person interactions<br />"CMC, because of its lack of audio or video cues, will be perceived as impersonal and lacking in normative reinforcement, so there will be less socioemotional content exchanged" (Rice & Love, 1987).<br /><<br />Jessica Vitak | Theorizing the Web | April 9, 2011<br />
  11. 11. Theories of CMC<br />11<br />Social Information Processing (SIP) Theory (Walther, 1992)<br />Direct response to cues filtered out approach. <br />Relationships can and do form online, albeit at a slower rate than in face-to-face environments.<br />=<br />Jessica Vitak | Theorizing the Web | April 9, 2011<br />
  12. 12. Theories of CMC<br />12<br />Hyperpersonal Model (Walther, 1996)<br />Sometimes, the unique affordances of CMC allow individuals to develop develop relationships that are “more socially desirable than we tend to experience in parallel FtFinteraction” (p. 17). <br />Role of sender, receiver, channel, and feedback. <br />><br />Jessica Vitak | Theorizing the Web | April 9, 2011<br />
  13. 13. Theories of CMC<br />13<br />Social Identity Model of Deindividuation Effects (SIDE; Reicher, Spears, & Postmes, 1995 )<br />In deindividuated/depersonalized settings, individual identity is submerged into the group identity. <br />We identify with the “in group” and disassociate with the “outgroup.” <br />✔<br />Jessica Vitak | Theorizing the Web | April 9, 2011<br />
  14. 14. Let’s take a walk through CMC’s past…<br />1. Computer-mediated communication is not a new phenomenon.<br />2. Theories of CMC have evolved with the technology.<br />3. BUT this evolution cannot keep pace with technological developments.<br />14<br />Jessica Vitak | Theorizing the Web | April 9, 2011<br />
  15. 15. Evolution of CMC<br />15<br />CMC’s early features:<br />Asynchronous<br />Examples: Email, discussion forums<br />Benefits: Allows user to carefully compose and edit messages prior to sending.<br />Drawbacks: limited/no real-time interactions  slowed down processes<br />(2) Reduced-cues environment<br /> Examples: any text-only online interaction<br />Benefits: selective self-presentation, identity play<br />Drawbacks: No visual cues misinterpretations of messages, deception<br />Theories of CMC are based off of these properties.<br />Jessica Vitak | Theorizing the Web | April 9, 2011<br />
  16. 16. Evolution of CMC<br />16<br />CMC in 2011 is: <br />(1) Highly interactive <br />(2) Highly visual<br />(3) Synchronous, near synchronous, and asynchronous communication<br />(4) Interactions are with FRIENDS, not strangers<br />Jessica Vitak | Theorizing the Web | April 9, 2011<br />
  17. 17. The Problem<br />17<br />CMC has changed…<br />BUT<br />the theories that attempt to predict, explain, and control it have not.<br />Jessica Vitak | Theorizing the Web | April 9, 2011<br />
  18. 18. Enter my research…<br />18<br />https://www.msu.edu/~nellison/TOIL<br />
  19. 19. Enter my research…<br />19<br />What do we study?<br />The relationship between Facebook use and social capital:<br />We have found that various measures of Facebook use, including FBI (Ellison et al., 2007), actual friends on the site (Ellison et al., in press), connection strategies (Ellison et al., in press), and engagement in reciprocal communication (Vitak et al., 2011) predict perceptions of social capital.<br />But this only tells part of the story.<br />Jessica Vitak | Theorizing the Web | April 9, 2011<br />
  20. 20. Enter my research…<br />20<br />Problems with this research:<br />Atheoretical?<br /> Does not account for two inter-related and <br /> critical components of SNS use:<br />-- Audience<br />-- Self-Presentation (a la disclosures)<br />Jessica Vitak | Theorizing the Web | April 9, 2011<br />
  21. 21. What’s audience got to do with it?<br />21<br />danahboyd (2008) identified three dynamics that differentiate networked publics from traditional publics: <br /> invisible audiences<br /> context collapse<br /> blurring of public and private <br />Jessica Vitak | Theorizing the Web | April 9, 2011<br />
  22. 22. Selective Self-Presentation via CMC<br />22<br />Goffman’s (1959) dramaturgical approach: <br />… a performer tends to conceal or underplay those activities, facts, and motives which are incompatible with an idealized version of himself… a performer often engenders in his audience the belief that he is related to them in a more ideal way than is always the case (p. 48).<br />Hyperpersonal Model (Walther, 1996): senders engage in selective self-presentations // receivers idealize the sender // behavioral confirmation through feedback<br />So how do we selectively self-present on SNSs?<br />Jessica Vitak | Theorizing the Web | April 9, 2011<br />
  23. 23. 23<br />Selective Self-Presentation in our SNS Profiles<br />Profile Picture<br />Highlighted Pictures<br />Friends<br /><ul><li>How many?
  24. 24. Who are they?
  25. 25. Who is highlighted?</li></ul>Status updates<br />
  26. 26. 24<br />Communication Channels on SNSs<br />Public: Status Updates, Comments, Likes, Posting Photos, Sharing Links <br />Private: Messages, Chat, Filtering Posts with privacy settings<br />Jessica Vitak | Theorizing the Web | April 9, 2011<br />
  27. 27. Blurring of Public and Private<br />25<br />Marwick and boyd (2011): <br />“We may understand that the Twitter or Facebook audience is potentially limitless, but we often act as if it were bounded.”<br />But Facebook is just my friends!<br />Technical features enable sharing of “private” information far beyond your articulated network.<br />Jessica Vitak | Theorizing the Web | April 9, 2011<br />
  28. 28. Blurring of Public and Private<br />26<br />
  29. 29. Blurring of Public and Private<br />27<br />Canadian woman on medical leave dropped from insurance for not looking depressed in Facebook photos (story)<br />
  30. 30. Blurring of Public and Private<br />28<br />Eagles employee fired over status update (story)<br />
  31. 31. But what does it all mean?<br />29<br />
  32. 32. But what does it all mean?<br />30<br />We cannot rely on older theories of CMC to explain current user experiences.<br />  Older theories focus on reduced cues, asynchronous <br /> communication.<br /><ul><li> These theories also focus on relationship formation, not maintenance.</li></ul>Social Information Processing<br />Hyperpersonal<br />SIDE<br />Jessica Vitak | Theorizing the Web | April 9, 2011<br />
  33. 33. But what does it all mean?<br />31<br />We cannot rely on older theories of CMC to explain current user experiences.<br /><ul><li> Older theories focus on reduced cues, asynchronous communication.</li></ul>One’s audience—both known and unknown<br /> —is critical.<br /><ul><li> But can you ever really know who your entire audience is?</li></ul>Jessica Vitak | Theorizing the Web | April 9, 2011<br />
  34. 34. 32<br />
  35. 35. 33<br />Jessica Vitak | Theorizing the Web | April 9, 2011<br />
  36. 36. But what does it all mean?<br />34<br />We cannot rely on older theories of CMC to explain current user experiences.<br /><ul><li> Older theories focus on reduced cues, asynchronous communication.</li></ul>2. One’s audience—both known and unknown—is <br /> critical.<br /><ul><li> But can you ever really know who your entire audience is?</li></ul>3. While scary things can and do happen, online <br /> communication is full of benefits for those <br /> who choose to engage.<br />Jessica Vitak | Theorizing the Web | April 9, 2011<br />
  37. 37. Looking forward<br />35<br />How can we theoretically explain the communication and relationship building that occurs online?<br />Don’t treat online and offline as separate entities.<br />We don’t necessarily need to build new theories from scratch <br /><ul><li>Can we expand on existing theories of CMC to include new technological features?
  38. 38. Can we adapt existing social science theories explaining offline interaction?</li></ul>Jessica Vitak | Theorizing the Web | April 9, 2011<br />
  39. 39. Looking forward: Where to start?<br />36<br />Equity Theory (Adams, 1965)<br /><ul><li>Distribution of resources in a dyadic relationship
  40. 40. Compares ratios of contributions and benefits of each member of a relationship.</li></ul> MY INPUT = YOUR INPUT _ <br /> MY OUTCOMES YOUR OUTCOMES<br /><ul><li>When these ratios are unequal, individuals feel distress and seek to restore equity
  41. 41. People seek to maximize rewards while minimizing costs.</li></ul>Jessica Vitak | Theorizing the Web | April 9, 2011<br />
  42. 42. Looking forward: Where to start?<br />37<br />Social Exchange Theory (review: Emerson, 1976)<br /><ul><li>Relationship development process consists of a series of cost-benefit analyses
  43. 43. Main concepts: cost, benefit, outcome, comparison level, satisfaction, and dependence</li></ul>Jessica Vitak | Theorizing the Web | April 9, 2011<br />
  44. 44. Looking forward: Where to start?<br />38<br />Altman’s (1975) theory of privacy—selective control of access to the self, involving:<br />A dynamic, dialectic process<br />An optimization process<br />A multi-mechanism process<br />Functions of privacy:<br /><ul><li>management of social interaction
  45. 45. establishment of plans and strategies for interacting with others
  46. 46. development and maintenance of self-identity</li></ul>Jessica Vitak | Theorizing the Web | April 9, 2011<br />
  47. 47. 39<br />Thanks!<br />Twitter: Email:<br />@jvitakvitakjes@msu.edu<br />Website:<br />http://vitak.wordpress.com<br />Jessica Vitak | Theorizing the Web | April 9, 2011<br />

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