From CMC Technologies to Social Participation Technologies

From CMC Technologies to Social Participation Technologies

Chaka Chaka (Walter Sisulu University, South Africa)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-773-2.ch040
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This chapter characterises the evolution of computer-mediated communication (CMC) technologies into social participation technologies (SPTs). With respect to the latter, it explores blogs, social networking sites (e.g., Facebook and MySpace), media sharing sites (e.g., Flickr and YouTube), virtual worlds (e.g., Second Life), massively multiplayer online games (e.g., Lineage and World of Warcraft), and mashups in varying degrees. It also contends that SPTs serve as instances of inscription and attention technologies in relation to users employing them. In addition, it delineates new genres, changing discourses, emerging literacies, online socialised learning and changing learners associated with SPTs. Against this background, the chapter provides, first, a short overview of the evolution of CMC technologies into SPTs. Second, it presents a case for new genres, changing discourses, emerging literacies, online socialised learning and changing learners in the context of SPTs. Last, it outlines some of the future trends likely to influence SPTs in relation to genres, discourses, literacies and online socialised learning.
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From Computer-Mediated Communication Technologies To Social Participation Technologies: A Concise Overview

In its restricted sense, CMC is a term referring to communication that occurs between human beings through computer networks. In this sense, it is a combination of telecommunication technologies and computer networks. The latter can be local or global networks. The network most commonly associated with CMC is the Internet - which in its own is a multi-layered network leveraging different modes or channels of communication. Classically, CMC can be asynchronous (at different times) or synchronous (at the same time). Traditional modes of asynchronous CMC include newsgroups, electronic bulletin boards, discussion lists, and emails which are predominantly text-based. The typical synchronous end of the CMC spectrum consists of chatrooms, Multi-User Dungeons (MUDs), MUDs, object oriented (MOOs) and computer conferences, which while text-based, can be graphical and aural (Siitonen, 2007).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Micro-blogging: Also known as mini-blogging, micro-blogging is a collaborative type of social participation blogging allowing participants to use about 140 characters to communicate with each other. Classic examples of micro-blogging services are Twitter, Jaiku and Tumblr.

Media sharing sites (MSSs): These are websites hosting and allowing media or resources such as digital pictures and videos clips to be shared by users. Typical examples are Flickr and YouTube.

Collaboratories: These are virtual forums enabling groups of users to share interests or compete for resources.

Referratories: Referratories link to other sites for content and information unlike repositories which contain the actual content.

Social Networking Site (SNSs): These are websites hosting and offering virtual social networks and enabling users to form affinities and relationships with peers based on common interests hobbies, careers, etc. Classic example are Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn.

Telepresence: Supported by immersive 3-D virtual environments, telepresence enables participants to have real-time experiences almost similar to physical experiences. Participants can don electronic devices, wear special clothing, or enter virtual worlds containing electronic sensors.

Multi-tasking: The act of juggling multiple tasks at once as opposed to linearly working from one task to the next.

Twitter: This is an online application which is part blog part SNS and part mobile phone/IM tool allowing users to make about 140 characters for each posting.

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