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Social Media Research

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

Summary: Internet research on the effect that our use of communication and web tools have on interpersonal communication and society. These sociological perspectives use concepts of face to face interaction taken from symbolic interactionism, especially the work of Erving Goffman. Marshall McLuhan's media theory finds a place here also. To comment on human factors studies and develop a richer understanding of social media, this section looks at the mediation of human communication. What are human factors when they are social factors, communication factors, and interaction factors? Are there implications here for computer mediated interaction research and HCI designers?

The material form of communication technology

All technologies have physical form. From screen size to keypads, speakers to headphones, their "form factors" inform their use. The "materiality" of a medium is a factor of its effectiveness and functionality, its transformative potential, as well as how it amplifies human perception and activity. When it comes to communication, these form factors in turn shape human factors (aspects of social and interpersonal interaction).

  • What are the technology's modes of user interaction?
  • What of the face does it translate, extend, and amplify?
  • In what ways does it amplify certain facial gestures and features?
  • With what kinds of distortions?
  • Is the technology's interface to our perception and expression adequate?
  • In what ways do limitations of the device itself (e.g. phone keypads and SMS) constrain and inform communication passing through it?

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