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Social Media Research

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

Summary: Sociologist Erving Goffman was famous for his acute observations of social interactions. What would he have to say about online communication? About talk and communication through social media, mobile or cel phones? About the interpersonal dynamics of online dating, or online profile management on myspace.com, and so on? If reltionships are maintained not only through what we say but also through how we mean it, and if our online communication tools aren't good at mediation of these interpersonal and face to face (f2f) dynamics, what is their capacity for facilitating communication?

Communication technology extends attention

Society today places so many demands on our attention that some would argue we are developing a cultural version of attention deficit disorder, and that our attention span has fragmented as a coping mechanism necessary for dealing with society's many stimuli and stresses. There's no doubt that attention figures prominently in any understanding of our interaction with one another as well as with media, and that the attention we pay to each other differs from the attention we pay to non-living things. Attention also needs to be understood in context, insofar as it is called upon by the phenomena (people, tasks, interruptions, etc.) with which we become engaged. Here we look at how different communications technologies call on our attention, transmit or represent our attention, for what kinds of length of time, and so on.

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