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Social Psychological Aspects of Computer-Mediated Communication

Kiesler, Sara, Siegel, Jane, and McGuire, Timothy W. (1984) Social psychological aspects of computer-mediated communication. American Psychologist, Oct. 1984, 1123-1134.

This article is among the first that note changes in organizational communication within digital environments:

  • centralization of control because it is easier to keep tabs on co-workers and subordinates
  • flattened hierarchy due to universal access within the organization
  • lack of social cues
  • anonymity and attendant uninhibited verbal behavior (i.e. flaming)
  • norms and etiquette based on programmer/hacker culture
They also note changes in group communication dynamics that are generalizable outside the organizational context:
    changes in coordination of discussions (turn-taking, etc. Also, cmc groups took longer to reach consensus than did f2f groups, and exchanged fewer remarks in the time allowed to them [1128])
  • changes in the participation and/or influence of dominant individuals
  • changes in normative control
  • again and always, uninhibited verbal behavior
There is an early reference to speed and reach on 1127.

There’s a quote on 1131 that seems relevant to my work with IP:

.. For example, absence of computer etiquette is a transient problem, but it is one that raises significant policy debates over rights of computer users to privacy and freedom of exploration. A more permanent effect might be the extension of partiicpation in group or organizational communication. This is important because it implies more shared information, more equality of influence, and, perhaps, a breakdown of social and organizational barriers.
Finally, they call for interdisciplinary research in CMC — interesting, considering the fact that so many disciplines were trying to stake their claim to (or within) the field at that time.