Saturday, 12 March 2016

Computer-Mediated Communication Phenomenon & Personal Experiences

Everyone likes to talk; obviously whether it is publicly or privately. Basically, there are a lot of ways to communicate with people. One of it is via the internet. By the term internet here, it can be referred to the magic world of cyber where we human, immerse ourselves in a magic screen and type words to the other side of the world to connect with anonymous, friends, family or strangers. Not only that, to be more exaggerated, this magic screen of ours can pops out our friends or whoever we want to communicate to by having a webcam and voila! We can have a face to face chat just in our sits without even going out to see people that we wanted to communicate with. To be more emphasis, this whole thing is directly pointed out to the acronym of CMC. CMC? 

Well, it is not Chocolate Moist Cake but it refers to Computer-Mediated Communication. We assume that everyone in this 21st century has ventured this type of communication where email, chat rooms, instant messaging and the newest platform of social media is the Twitter and the favorite of all time is Facebook came to people’s life. To be precise, According to December (1997), Computer-Mediated Communication is a process of human communication via computers, involving people, situated in particular contacts, engaging in processes to shape media for a variety of purposes. Therefore, CMC is the human communication which occurs through the use of electronic devices that most probably a computer.

The Experiences

Chocolate Moist Cake; the CMC Phenomenon
Noted that everyone now is using this CMC, lets us tells you a story of one of our experiences which this time is really about Chocolate Moist Cake. CMC.

We are the ladies of ‘Being Sociolicious’ and our names reflected on us that we love anything that is delicious. One day, we would like to learn basic pastry baking skills; to make a delicious cake for our graduation party. So we have been introduced to a very professional Malaysian pastry chef by a friend. However, the pastry chef, Chef. Egay has been sent to France to attend an international pastry convention. That moment we were very sad and we thought that there will be no home-made cake for the party. That night, he skypes one of us and said that we can learn to make chocolate moist cake with him via the skype. We were very happy. He sets the time for tomorrow and we get the entire ingredient like he asks. The next morning, 6am sharps (due to differences of time between Malaysia and UK), we all stand at our own tables with all the baking essentials and each of us has a laptop in front of us to make it easier to be communicating with Chef Egay. Then, Chef Egay invites us to make a group chat and all of us were group Skyping. We have learned to bake a cake as a beginner, Chef Kelvin taught us steps by step and any questions can be answered right on the spots regardless the boundary of how many miles we are being apart from Malaysia and United Kingdom.

Let’s relate this experience with one of the CMC theories which is the Media Richness Theory that has been introduced by Richard L. Daft and Robert H. Lengel in 1984. The current communication channel like the experience above, thus relates where the media richness taken place. The social networking sites, allows member to create a profile page like our names, age, place of living, date of birth etc. It encourages the individual to build lists of friends and family, both across the country and across the globe. The Media Richness theory argues the task performance will be improved when task needs are matched to a medium’s richness (Dennis & Valacich, 1999). Social media like Skype actually become a target market that draws most university students to connect on a global level which allows face-to face communication. Face-to-face communication also provides multiple cues via body language and tone of voice, and message content is expressed in natural language (Daft & Lengel, 1986). This technology in the form of CMC, has reached a variety of generations. Student like us also not only communicate with friends to share homework, assignments, but we can learn live from professional from thousand miles apart that allowing us to build and preserve social relationships through CMC.

 According to Daft & Lengel (1986), the transmission of rich information required instantaneous feedback and a higher level of interactivity that is characterized by a rich medium. Richer electronic media permit more types of information and feedback, enabling more comprehensive transmission and reception or messages and a better adaptation of the message to the particular recipient. Like in our experience, teleconferencing is richer than a textual Internet chat which increases our social present that we engage in electronically mediated communication. 

According to Spitzberg (2011) he has listed 3 characteristics on analyzing the richness of a specific medium.
-          Speed: refers to how rapidly the production, sending and receiving of a message can be both email and ‘snail-mail’ are slower media compared to the telephone.
-          Interactivity is related to the possibility of two-way information exchange and feedback, as well as to the time lag between the sending and reception of a message
-        Completeness designates the degree to which the medium can transmit the nonverbal forms of a message and representations of emotional content (eg. Video teleconferencing completely transmits an interpersonal message than a Usenet discussion group)

Therefore, this theory shows that the richness, thus seen in the effectiveness in communication that related to the appropriate choice of medium (computer + webcam + internet = communication) to deliver a specific message that task performance will be improved when the capabilities of the media (cues, feedback, personal focus, and language variety) are matched to task equivocality and uncertainty. However, face-to face communication is not always the ‘richest’ medium for communication. Where the ‘best’ medium or set of media depends upon which of these dimensions are important for a given situation. 

Well, it depends on the individual differences from social interaction and the ability to learn the ‘command language’ that uses behavior leading to the owner’s inability to take advantage of this rich media.  The media richness in term of having all the pros in the virtual electronic style in relation on CMC, has opened the door to globalization allowing a universal interconnectedness of the world’s population. By the way, more people can make their own chocolate moist cake from a professional.

Gaming Experience: MMORPGs (Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games)

What is social presence theory?
Social presence theory was first theorizing by Short, Williams, and Christine in 1976, to explore the difference between mediated and non-mediated communication. The study has defined social presence as the degree of salience of the other person in a mediated interaction and the consequent salience of the interpersonal interaction (Short, Williams, & Christine,1976). What they are trying to say is that this theory focuses on how different individuals communicating. As CMC has evolved, more relational view of social presence has emerged. From what we understand, social presence is the way individuals represent themselves in their social media. It shows how a person is available and wants to connect with other people between their online communities.

Choosing Character: Diablo 3 Reaper of Soul

 From our experience in playing the MMORPGs (Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games), you can create a character or avatar according to your desire and then you will begin an adventure in a virtual world from the game. A common thing in MMORPG is that the player has the ability to communicate with the other players either from nearby places or around the globe. 

This ability enables its players to use the games as a social networking site like Twitter or Facebook. 

Diablo 3 Reaper of Soul: Walkthrough

As one of the players of MMO, for example, Diablo series, we move our avatar in that virtual world where we experience the socialization with different kinds of people all around the globe. The people that you are talking can only see you character in that game but they would never know whether you are a male or female because we cannot judge people based on their avatar or game character.

Chatting Window in MMORPG
Social presence theory can be seen by the way the messages are being posted and how those messages are interpreted by others. Communicating through MMORPG basically is primarily text-based. But it depends on the game as the text-talk can range from zone-shout (where people in that current area can read your message).

“Social presence can be defined as the way the participants relate to one another which then affect their ability to communicate with other people effectively via media (Kehrwald, 2008). Personally, we agreed to Kehrwald because as when participating in the online game world, as a gamer, we have gone through on being part of the gaming communities. Each community can be seen whether in the form of a group of friends or “Clans” or just simply the feeling of the sense of belonging to the people that play the same game. Each group has their own set of slang, share cheats, and glitches among themselves.

In CMC settings, communication between individuals is restricted or controlled by media technology. Research in this field stated that the level of social presence or communicative realism is strongly dependent on the property of the media interference, thus allowing the verbal or non-verbal communication and supporting varying levels of naturalistic representations in terms of appearance and behaviors (Bailenon, Beal, Loomis, Blascovich & Turk, 2004). F2F conversation somewhat has a different situation than CMC where the sense of being there together experiences. In F2F conversation, we rely on our five senses in interacting with other people which cannot be done in the virtual world. In the virtual world, we meet other people using the avatars but we cannot actually interact with that person beside chatting and playing games together. Thus, some people that have difficulty in socializing with people tend to involve themselves in MMORPGs in searching for friends that have the same interests.

Many people that involve in digital gaming have implications on social isolation, raising concerns and critics from teachers, parents, researchers and policy makers (Bryce & Rutter, 2003). This shows that digital gaming can influence the social interaction. These social interactions are importance in shaping the gaming experience which can be seen in the overwhelming participation in the virtual communities like MMORPGs.

The internet is a new medium now as in collaboration and its great potential for improvement of effectiveness in communication and increase in production in work groups and teams. Thus, we believe that the key to effective use of media is to match media capabilities process required to perform the task due to most tasks require individuals to both convey information and converge on shared meaning which later shows that how it can be effectively improved apart from showing such interaction that can be performed by Computer-Mediated Communication.

Bailenson, J.N., Beall, A.C., Loomis, J., Blascovich, J., & Turk, M. (2004). Transformation Social Interaction: Decoupling Representation from behavior and Form in Collaborative Virtual Environments. Presence: Teleoperators & Virtual Environments, 13, 428-441.

Bryce, J., & Rutter, J. (2003). The Gendering of Computer Gaming: Experience and Space. In S. Fleming & I. Jones, Leisure Culture: Investigations in Sport, Media and Technology,Leisure Association, pp.3-22.

Daft, R. L., and Lengel, R. H. (1984). Information Richeness: A new Approach to Managerial Behaviour and Organizational Design, in Research in Organizational Behabiour, L. L.       Cummings and B. M. Staw (eds.), JAI Press, Homewood, IL,, pp. 191-233.

Daft, R.L., and Lengel, R.H. (1986). Organizational information requirements, media richness and structural design. Management Science, 32(5): 554-571.

December, J. (1997). Notes on Defining of Computer-Mediated Communication. Computer-Mediated Communication Magazine [On-line], 4(1).                                       

Dennis, A. R & Valacich, J. S., (1999). Rethinking Media Richness: Towards a Theory of Media   Synchronicity. Proceedings of the 32nd Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences.

Kehrwald, B. (2008). Understanding Social Presence in Text-Based Online Learning Environments. Distance Education, 29 (1), 89-106.

Short, J., Williams, E., & Christie, B. (1976). The social psychology of telecommunications. London: John Wiley & Sons.

Spitzberg, B.H. (2001). Mediated communication competence. In S. Morreale, B.H. Spirzberg & K. Barge, Human Communication: Motivation, Knowledge and Skills. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.