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Adolescent Diary Weblogs and the Unseen Audience

Conversations in the Blogosphere: An Analysis "from the Bottom Up". Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS-38) Best Paper Nominee.

Weblogs as a bridging genre

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Common Visual Design Elements of Weblogs

Women and Children Last: The Discursive Construction of Weblogs

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The Performativity of Naming: Adolescent Weblog Names as Metaphor

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New books are added but reading status is rarely accurate.

October 26, 2005

Are you attending to what I say?

Josh at Sociolinguistics and CMC posted today about attending to IM conversation. His question revolves around how much expectation is there that when you are talking to someone on an IM they are paying close attention to what you are saying and are not involved with multiple other conversations. My experience tells me that there is one primary factor with two subfactors that will control the expectation of exclusivity in an IM conversation. The primary factor is experience, the subfactors are developmental level and experience with synchronous online communication. First I see young teens who expect that their IM conversational partner is talking only to them. This is mostly a developmental issue just like younger children want to sit close to the TV so that the picture fills their visual field, young teens don't have the ability to multi-task yet so replicate that expectation on to their communication partner. Second once users develop experience with synchronous communication environments they actually begin to expect that their communication partners are talking to multiple people at the same time, however early in their experience they may not have grasped this reality.

Here is a snip from the post (misspelling in original):

Does it bother you if you're having a conversation with someone else and they're not attentive to the conversation becasue you think they're having a conversation with someone else. This can often be signaled explicitly by mis-aimed interlocutions (i.e. you're having a conversation with someone about your bad day and they respond by mistake in your window to a conversation they're having with someone else in another window). Do we see this as acceptable, or do we think that our interlocutor isn't engagaed and focused on our conversation? Do we ignore these things?

To what extent do we expect to be the sole focus of attention during IM interactions (in diadic conversations)? In FTF settings, this lack of focus would normally be construed as "rude", where one person would in essence be having a conversation with 2 people at one time. Does this "rudeness" transfer to IM? Do people feel guilty about talking to 2 people at once, when one of the conversations is "important" (dealing with personal problems, exposing some weakness, etc.) Do we demand the attention of our interlocutors, or do we realize that IM is in fact different than FTF in this regard?

So does it bug you when you realize your IM partner is talking to five other people, listening to music, and writing War and Peace while they are "talking" to you?

Posted by prolurkr at October 26, 2005 08:00 PM

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