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Social Media Research

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

Summary: Writing and distribution tools and technologies have materiality, even when they are "immaterial." The digital publishing world, devices for digital distribution and publishing, and for communication over the web, over mobile, and more & all translate the meanings of speech and talk to a digital medium for transmission. This mediation of interaction compresses meanings, and brackets out the interpersonal cues and gestures we use for understanding a speaker's intention, truth, and relation. What are the consequences for social talk if the medium (including all online and social media) are poor at handling emotional exchanges and meanings?

When communication technology requires a secondary medium

Asynchronous communication (anything not in real-time) always involves recording, with the notable exception of latency resulting from long-distance transmission. Most of the time, the recording takes the form of "text." But there are also non-textual recordings, like voice mail, images, animations, icons, and video. Thus we have a distinction between direct media, which transmit, and indirect media, which involve recording.

Video is direct, for it actually shows the communicative performance. Text is indirect, for it can only represent expression as writing. In the case of indirect representation, we lose the immediacy and affectivity of human expression, but gain history, mobility, and to some extent faster and cheaper message circulation. Because so much communication now uses indirect media, we should ask how communication is transformed as it is forced through a secondary medium for recording.

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