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Social Media Research

It goes without saying that the words we say are in fact our own. That said, we quote others all the time, and not only to tell stories and jokes. From some points of view, the entire system of language serves to repeat what has been said before, if not to maintain cultural integrity, then to keep order in the house. Quoting has never been easier than with email. Entire conversations can be forwarded. Whole essays and articles can be copied, pasted, and propagated. And so the question of who's talking does actually become relevant.

  • What practices do we develop around quoting, sampling, and forwarding one another's messages?
  • How do we know if a message belongs to its sender or to somebody else?
  • In what cases does knowing that our messages might be forwarded or quoted shape what we say, to whom we say it, and how we say it?
  • Does the intrinsic ambiguity around the message and its author shape how we read and interpret messages?
  • Are there greater consequences for culture in the proliferation of talk and communication wherein the message and its author have been separated by the medium and its means of propagating messages?
  • How would it change communication networks if messages could not be forwarded or quoted without reverse approval by their authors?
  • To what extent might the separation of message and author correspond or reflect the separation of product and manufacturer? Is this no the phenomenon of commodification currently threatening the music industry?

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

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