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Social Networking the Third Place and the Evolution of Communication

Social Networking the"Third Place "and the evolution of communicatiThe New Media Consortium's Series of Online Conferences is designed to explore emerging topicseducation and technology, using current communication technologies to bring people togethernline in a way that offers many of the same affordances of a face-to-face conference Ofparticular importance are opportunities for the kinds of social interactions that make in-persononferences so valuable: hallway conversations, end-of-the-day informal gatheringspportunities to speak with presenters in between sessions, and highly interactive breakoutessions that invite participation from the audienceAs part of a new approach to how we design our online conferences, this paper is being releaseddvance of the mmc online confeon the Evolution of Communication to spark discussion,discourse, and especially critical thinking on the topic This first topical paper is being released in aform that encourages discussion and that itself embodies the topic of the changing nature ofcommunication The conference itself, to be held December 4-5, 2007, will take place in the virtualworld of Second Life and will incorporate some of the tools and trends identified herehe purpose of this white paper is to put forth a proposition thatble conversatiopts and ideas that aretopic about which there may be somestrongly held perspectives Our premise is that technology has not only mediatedcommunication in countless ways, but that the very ways we communicate-and even theways we talk and think about communication -are changing as a resultPart of this premise is backward looking in the sense that if we set literature and the creativee of communicatioide for a moment the formal communication strategies we haveeen taught in schools were often focused on how to convey lots of ideas or information(aelativna generallybooks, or compilationsAdded to anddded to those forms in recent years

A look in almost any directionreveal patterns ocommunicatiional writing in which we were trained Stburstsformation, technology-mediated for the most part, permeate our experiences, andreasingly we have people with whom we aretact almost constantly -and morevery day, tlle are scatteredMediated by new tools and new technologies that have made the marginal cost of longdistance communication essentially free, both work and social activities are commonly sharedople who need not be geographically near each other to be close Orremise, simply put, is that these and similar trends represent a significant shift in the way weteract with others andis paper is not intended to be a lexicon of terms and definitions Rather, its focus iscan be applied to teaching, learning and creativity It is our hope that this paper wlitconsider the ways that communication is changing and raise the question of how this sho 2007 The New Media Conso

NMC White Paperiects, and demonstrations thatConference on the evolution of communication and that the dialog begun herecontinubeyond the conferenceCommunication is(Still) Changinge nature of communication has undergone a substantial change in the past 20 years-andande is not oveEmail has had a profound effect on the way people keepCommunications are shorter and more frequent than when letters were the norm responseo, e has greatly diminished; we are even surprised if someone we wish to contact does notorder to read and respond to them, most of us are accustomed to the daily duty of red 3ve an email address Although there are still a few people who print out their emailed since we turned off the computer the nigeping up with them as they trickle (or flood) in during the dayge have gotten used to email, though, the nature of communication continues tochange Instant messaging has created another meth

od of interaction, one where the lengf messages is shorter and the style of the interaction is more conversational-but where it isacceptable and common to pay partial attention broadcast technologies like Twittertransform these short bursts of co(or trivia) progS: we cwhen we warpdate or have something to say, andbedle expectations we place on those we communicate with vary from medium to medium, ashas always been the case

Sending a letter through the postal mail sets up an expectation of aetter-writer to devote a certain amount of time and attentionpartys attention may wander between messages in some cases and remain focused e otherone caNew environments like virtual worlds present additional opportunities and challenges forommunication In such settings there is a visual component to the online interaction that isail or instant messaging: we can see a " body that goes with the voice or textbout when the other person is listening, when he or she ng of presence andes to speak, and whehatts offer theua cues as face-to-face communicaey do not; but there is an addeddimension to interactions in these spaces that does not occur in other online contextsOnline communication tools also have the potential to increase our awareness of thovements of our professional or social contacts Twitter, for instance, offers an atupdate of things people we know happen to be doing: who is outside cleaning theiwith a friend, Clive th00prioception, named after theofbyception of stroduced within the organism Social proprioception tells us where the nodes of ocommunity are and provides a sense of connectedness to andness of others withouto 2007 The New Media Conso

NMC White Paperembers of our community are not within sight abledirect communication Technave this sense even when the Contexts of online Communicationfaceto-face encounters, factors ranging from psychological to environmental to culturaleffect on how the mtransmitted and howunderstood Online communicationno less subject to context, and may bring with it additional contextual issues that will haven effect on the intended messagele type of technology being used to facilitate the interaction, for example, has a bearing onthe environmental context of theAdifferone or in an online meeting roomle challenge of any communication, that of being understood exists online as much asaybe more so than -offline posts on threaded discussion forums and instant messagecommunications are notoriously hard to decode correctly because of the lack of nuance Asore people participate in these kinds of communications, sigdevelopedddtext-basedes, like smileys (@) and tags(like),areof context is far frored,though, and continuessurface with each new mode of communication that emergeshe Internet is the placee vehicle for these changes is the Internet Increasingly, it is the " third place"(the first andd work) where people colten to music, build a sense of togetherness with people across the world, and providelves whiclo the internet for professional andofcommunication new places to communicate, and new avenues of interaction unfold at arapid pace

ew means of communication Internet calling services like Skype or Yahoo! Voicecompet into a video phone blogs, while not new,usage over the last feware now a common way for many people toideas to a broad ad in most cases, to hear back from thndasy toe basedIt is more difficult to grasp the potential implications of forms that are not modeled on aomfortable, twentieth-century modwitter users postsages that usually have to do with whatever is happening tothem at the time-whether it is intellectual, practical, social, or professional in nature-toeate an ongoing logtivity across a community at the minute-by-minute level Twitter iso 2007 The New Media Conso