Online Screen-to-Screen Interactions and Their Interface to Face-to-Face Interactions

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 10:30 AM
Room: Booth 62
Oral Presentation
Ilkka ARMINEN , Social Research, University of Helsinki, University of Helsinki, Finland
The development in the analysis of social interaction in the 1960’s was made possible by a meeting of intellectual advancements and emerging new data management technologies. Currently, online social interaction still waits for a formation of research interests that would transform the abundance of new data into sets of findings. There is not yet available any systematic methodology for the scrutiny of online communicative behavior. I will focus on three central interrelated issues: 1) the construction of an online communicative act, 2) the nature of screen-to-screen interaction, and 3) the interface between screen-to-screen and face-to-face interactions.  The establishment of a research field requires a distinct perception of the research objects, that is, the units of analysis, a theory about their systemic relationships and positioning of the field within established fields. For instance, the well-known simplest systematics of turn-taking (1974) formulated conversations as a research object consisting of turns at talk with systemic relationships, and a relative autonomy. As for online communication, we may explore the sequential units, such as turns in a chat or a forum thread, as independent units. Alternatively, the communicative acts may be inspected contextually as a part of a situated offline activity. Both positions are sustainable, but distinct and alternate. It would be tempting to unite them, but that may not be feasible in terms of resources, or efficacy. As for the systemic relationships between online communicative units, Karen Knorr-Celina’s notion of synthetic situation is fascinating providing some methodological hints for the advancement of the area. Finally, irrespective whether we start from the autonomous units or contextual reflection, we end up inspecting the embeddedness of online interaction to offline world, which forms the ultimate challenge for studies on online communication. Instead of a final solution, I will discuss some examples with the help of which we may address the interface between screen-to-screen and face-to-face interactions.