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Social Media Research

Communication technology and theory: Research into the interpersonal and social interface

Summary: Communication research on the impact of the internet and communication technology on interpersonal communication and society. These sociological perspectives use human factors and communication theory to suggest design approaches to communication technology beyond computer mediated interaction and HCI design.

TA and the "stroke", or technology meets social psychology

Transactional Analysis, an old but nonetheless relevant branch of psychology, characterized human interaction as an economy of emotional "strokes," in which communication not only serves to express what is stated explicitly, but more fundamentally serves to provide mutual existential acknowledgement and recognition. At issue with mediation, then, would be to what extent this is satisfied in non face to face communication. When using technology to communicate, do we provide each other with personal recognition that's simply less intense? Does it depend on the medium? Or might our needs for this fundamental supply of ontological security be adapting to new conditions for getting it?

  • Is recognition of basic ontological security possible through mediated exchanges?
  • Is there a digital touch? If so, how long does it last, who can it be obtained from, in what situations of mediated interaction, how, and how real is it to us?
  • Do we really feel acknowledged in and through mediated exchanges?
  • How much "live" is required for this to pass? What's required? Does a reply to an email supply this basic human recognition? Does reference to a message posted on a bulletin board count? Is seeing one's comment forwarded, pasted, or quoted good enough? Does traffic to one's web site count for "recognition" of this kind?
  • If this kind of acknowledgement does occur in mediated interactions, does it differ only in degree from the acknowledgement obtained in co-present human interaction? Or must we argue that the absence of physical interaction alone means it is not just of a different degree, but of a different kind?
  • Does mediated acknowledgement substitute for the kind gained by successfully sharing physical interaction with others.
  • Do people participate in mediated interactions in order some times to obtain acknowledgement of this kind? If so, what effects do they experience when it's not forthcoming?
  • How much acknowledgement is gained from the act of expression itself-regardless of the recognition that comes back?
  • Is this an explanation for the popularity of posting and writing to online applications?

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