Computer-mediated communication (CMC) is defined as any human communication that occurs through the use of two or more electronic devices. While the term has traditionally referred to those communications that occur via computer-mediated formats (e.g., instant messaging, email, chat rooms, online forums, social network services), it has also been applied to other forms of text-based interaction such as text messaging. Research on CMC focuses largely on the social effects of different computer-supported communication technologies. Many recent studies involve Internet-based social networking supported by social software.
Computer-mediated communication can be broken down into two forms: synchronous and asynchronous. Synchronous computer-mediated communication refers to communication which occurs in real time. All parties are engaged in the communication simultaneously; however, they are not necessarily all in the same location. Examples of synchronous communication are video chats and FaceTime audio calls. On the contrary, asynchronous computer-mediated communication refers to communication which takes place when the parties engaged are not communicating in unison. In other words, the sender does not receive an immediate response from the receiver. Most forms of computer mediated technology are asynchronous. Examples of asynchronous communication are text messages and emails.
Scholars from a variety of fields study phenomena that can be described under the umbrella term of computer mediated communication (CMC) (see also Internet studies). For example, many take a sociopsychological approach to CMC by examining how humans use "computers" (or digital media) to manage interpersonal interaction, form impressions and form and maintain relationships. These studies have often focused on the differences between online and offline interactions, though contemporary research is moving towards the view that CMC should be studied as embedded in everyday life . Another branch of CMC research examines the use of paralinguistic features such as emoticons,pragmatic rules such as turn-taking and the sequential analysis and organization of talk, and the various sociolects, styles, registers or sets of terminology specific to these environments (see Leet). The study of language in these contexts is typically based on text-based forms of CMC, and is sometimes referred to as "computer-mediated discourse analysis".
The way humans communicate in professional, social, and educational settings varies widely, depending upon not only the environment but also the method of communication in which the communication occurs, which in this case is through computers or other information and communication technologies (ICTs). The study of communication to achieve collaboration--common work products--is termed computer-supported collaboration and includes only some of the concerns of other forms of CMC research.
Popular forms of CMC include e-mail, video, audio or text chat (text conferencing including "instant messaging"), bulletin board systems, list-servs and MMOs. These settings are changing rapidly with the development of new technologies. Weblogs (blogs) have also become popular, and the exchange of RSS data has better enabled users to each "become their own publisher".
Communication occurring within a computer-mediated format has an effect on many different aspects of an interaction. Some of those that have received attention in the scholarly literature include impression formation, deception, group dynamics, disclosure reciprocity, disinhibition and especially relationship formation.
CMC is examined and compared to other communication media through a number of aspects thought to be universal to all forms of communication, including (but not limited to) synchronicity, persistence or "recordability", and anonymity. The association of these aspects with different forms of communication varies widely. For example, instant messaging is intrinsically synchronous but not persistent, since one loses all the content when one closes the dialog box unless one has a message log set up or has manually copy-pasted the conversation. E-mail and message boards, on the other hand, are low in synchronicity since response time varies, but high in persistence since messages sent and received are saved. Properties that separate CMC from other media also include transience, its multimodal nature, and its relative lack of governing codes of conduct. CMC is able to overcome physical and social limitations of other forms of communication and therefore allow the interaction of people who are not physically sharing the same space.
The medium in which people choose to communicate influences the extent to which people disclose personal information. CMC is marked by higher levels of self-disclosure in conversation as opposed to face-to-face interactions. Self disclosure is any verbal communication of personally relevant information, thought, and feeling which establishes and maintains interpersonal relationships. This is due in part to visual anonymity and the absence of nonverbal cues which reduce concern for losing positive face. According to Walther's (1996) hyperpersonal communication model, computer-mediated communication is valuable in providing a better communication and better first impressions. Moreover, Ramirez and Zhang (2007) indicate that computer-mediated communication allows more closeness and attraction between two individuals than a face-to-face communication. Online impression management, self-disclosure, attentiveness, expressivity, composure and other skills contribute to competence in computer mediated communication. In fact, there is a considerable correspondence of skills in computer-mediated and face-to-face interaction  even though there is great diversity of online communication tools.
Anonymity and in part privacy and security depends more on the context and particular program being used or web page being visited. However, most researchers in the field acknowledge the importance of considering the psychological and social implications of these factors alongside the technical "limitations".
CMC is widely discussed in language learning because CMC provides opportunities for language learners to practice their language. For example, Warschauer conducted several case studies on using email or discussion boards in different language classes. Warschauer claimed that information and communications technology "bridge the historic divide between speech...and writing". Thus, considerable concern has arisen over the reading and writing research in L2 due to the booming of the Internet.
The nature of CMC means that it is easy for individuals to engage in communication with others regardless of time or location. CMC allows for individuals to collaborate on projects that would otherwise be impossible due to such factors as geography. In addition, CMC can also be useful for allowing individuals who might be intimidated due to factors like character or disabilities to participate in communication. By allowing an individual to communicate in a location of their choosing, CMC call allow a person to engage in communication with minimal stress. Making an individual comfortable through CMC also plays a role in self-disclosure, which allows a communicative partner to open up more easily and be more expressive. When communicating through an electronic medium, individuals are less likely to engage in stereotyping and are less self-conscious about physical characteristics. The role that anonymity plays in online communication can also encourage some users to be less defensive and form relationships with others more rapidly.
While computer-mediated communication can be beneficial, technological mediation can also inhibit the communication process. Unlike face-to-face communication, nonverbal cues such as tone and physical gestures, which assist in conveying the message, are lost through computer-mediated communication. As a result, the message being communicated is more vulnerable to being misunderstood due to a wrong interpretation of tone or word meaning. Moreover, according to Dr. Sobel-Lojeski of Stony Brook University and Professor Westwell of Flinders University, the virtual distance that is fundamental to computer-mediated communication can create a psychological and emotional sense of detachment, which can contribute to sentiments of societal isolation.
- ^ McQuail, Denis. (2005). Mcquail's Mass Communication Theory. 5th ed. London: SAGE Publications.
- ^ Thurlow, C., Lengel, L. & Tomic, A. (2004). Computer mediated communication: Social interaction and the internet. London: Sage.
- ^ Chin, Leonora (March 5, 2016). "Advantages and Disadvantages of Computer Mediated Communication in the Context of UNIMAS Students and Staff".
- ^ a b Malone, Erin; Gulati, Harjeet S. "Designing Social Interfaces".
- ^ a b Walther, J. B. (1996). Computer-mediated communication: Impersonal, interpersonal, and hyperpersonal interaction. Communication Research, 23, 3-43.
- ^ Walther, J. B., & Burgoon, J. K. (1992). Relational communication in computer-mediated interaction. Human Communication Research, 19, 50-88.
- ^ Haythornthwaite, C. and Wellman, B. (2002). The Internet in everyday life: An introduction. In B. Wellman and C. Haythornthwaite (Eds.), The Internet in Everyday Life (pp. 3-41). Oxford: Blackwell.
- ^ Skovholt, K., Grønning, A. and Kankaanranta, A. (2014), The Communicative Functions of Emoticons in Workplace E-Mails: :-). Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 19: 780-797. doi:10.1111/jcc4.12063
- ^ Garcia, A. C., & Jacobs, J. B. (1999). The eyes of the beholder: Understanding the turn-taking system in quasi-synchronous computer-mediated communication. Research on Language & Social Interaction, 32, 337-367.
- ^ Herring, S. (1999). Interactional coherence in CMC. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 4(4).
- ^ Markman, K. M. (2006). Computer-mediated conversation: The organization of talk in chat-based virtual team meetings. Dissertation Abstracts International, 67 (12A), 4388. (UMI No. 3244348)
- ^ Herring, S. C. (2004). Computer-mediated discourse analysis: An approach to researching online behavior. In: S. A. Barab, R. Kling, and J. H. Gray (Eds.), Designing for Virtual Communities in the Service of Learning (pp. 338-376). New York: Cambridge University Press.
- ^ McQuail, Denis. (2005). Mcquail's Mass Communication Theory. 5th ed. London: SAGE Publications.
- ^ a b Jiang, C., Bazarova, N., & Hancock, J. (2011). From perception to behavior: Disclosure reciprocity and the intensification of intimacy in computer-mediated communication. Communication Research, 40, 125-143.
- ^ Dunn., R., 2013. Identity Theories and Technology. p.30. East Tennessee State University, USA.
- ^ Spitzberg, B. "Preliminary Development of a Model and Measure of Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC) Competence".
- ^ Bubas, G. & Spitzberg, B. "The relations of communication skills in face-to-face and computer-mediated communication".
- ^ Abrams, Z. (2006). From Theory to Practice: Intracultural CMC in the L2 Classroom. book chapter, forthcoming in Ducate, Lara & Nike Arnold (Eds.) Calling on CALL: From Theory and Research to New Directions in Foreign Language Teaching.
- ^ Warschauer, M. (1998). Electronic literacies: Language, culture and power in online education. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
- ^ Warschauer, M. (2006). Laptops and literacy: learning in the wireless classroom: Teachers College, Columbia University.
- ^ Crum, "Advantages and Disadvantages of Computer Mediated Communication"
- ^ Lane, "Computer-Mediated Communication in the Classroom: Asset or Liability?"
- ^ Schouten, Valkenburg & Peter, "An Experimental Test of Processes Underlying Self-Disclosure in Computer-Mediated Communication".
- ^ a b Fennel, Zachary. "Disadvantage for Communication in Computer Technology". Techwalla.
- ^ Sobel-Lojeski, Karen; Westwell, Martin (May 27, 2016). "Virtual distance: technology is rewriting the rulebook for human interaction". The Conversation.
- Ahern, T.C., Peck, K., & Laycock, M. (1992). The effects of teacher discourse in computer-mediated discussion. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 8(3), 291-309.
- Angeli, C., Valanides, N., & Bonk, C.J. (2003). Communication in a web-based conferencing system: The quality of computer-mediated interactions. British Journal of Educational Technology, 34(1), 31-43.
- Bannan-Ritland, B. (2002). Computer-mediated communication, elearning, and interactivity: A review of the research. Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 3(2), 161-180.
- Baym, N. K. (1995). The emergence of community in computer-mediated communication. Jones, Steven G. (Ed). (1995). CyberSociety: Computer-mediated communication and community, (pp. 138-163). Thousand Oaks, CA, US: Sage Publications.
- Christopher, M.M., Thomas, J.A., and Tallent-Runnels, M.K. (2004). Raising the Bar: Encouraging high level thinking in online discussion forums. Roeper Review, 26(3), 166-171.
- Cooper, M.M., & Selfe, C.L. (1990). Computer conferences and learning: Authority, resistance, and internally persuasive discourse. College English, 52(8), 847-869.
- Derks, D., Fischer, A. H., & Bos, A. E. (2008). The role of emotion in computer-mediated communication: A review. Computers in Human Behavior, 24(3), 766-785.
- Forman, E.A. (2000). Knowledge building in discourse communities. Human Development, 43(6), 364-368. doi:10.1159/000022697
- Gabriel, M.A. (2004). Learning together: Exploring group interactions online. Journal of Distance Education, 19(1), 54-72.
- Garcia, A. C., Standlee, A. I., Bechkoff, J., & Cui, Y. (2009). Ethnographic approaches to the internet and computer-mediated communication. Journal of contemporary ethnography, 38(1), 52-84.
- Gerrand, P. (2007), Estimating Linguistic Diversity on the Internet: A Taxonomy to Avoid Pitfalls and Paradoxes. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 12: 1298-1321. doi:10.1111/j.1083-6101.2007.00374.x
- Gilbert, K.G., & Dabbagh, N. (2005). How to structure online discussions for meaningful discourse: a case study. British Journal of Educational Technology, 36(1), 5-18.
- Gunawardena, C.H., Nolla, A.C., Wilson, P.L., Lopez-Isias, Jr. et al. (2001). A cross-cultural study of group process and development in online conferences. Distance Education, 22(1), 85-122.
- Hancock, J. T., & Dunham, P. J. (2001). Impression formation in computer-mediated communication revisited. Communication Research, 28(3), 325-347.
- Hara, N., Bonk, C.J., & Angeli, C. (2000). Content analysis of online discussion in an applied educational psychology course. Instructional Science, 28, 115-152.
- Herring, S. C. (Ed.). (1996). Computer-mediated communication: Linguistic, social, and cross-cultural perspectives (Vol. 39). John Benjamins Publishing.
- Herring, S. (Ed.), Stein, D. (Ed.) & Virtanen, T. (Ed.) (2013). Pragmatics of Computer-Mediated Communication. Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter Mouton
- Hewitt, J. (2001). Beyond threaded discourse. International Journal of Educational Telecommunications, 7(3), 207-221.
- Hewitt, J. (2003). How habitual online practices affect the development of asynchronous discussion threads. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 28(1), 31-45.
- Javela, S., Bonk, C.J., & Sirpalethti, S.L. (1999). A theoretical analysis of social interactions in computer-based learning environments: Evidence for reciprocal understandings. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 21(3), 363-388.
- Jones, G., & Schieffelin, B. (2009). Enquoting Voices, Accomplishing Talk: Uses of Be+Like in Instant Messaging. Language & Communication, 29(1), 77-113.
- Jones, G., & Schieffelin, B. (2009). Talking Text and Talking Back: "My BFF Jill" from Boob Tube to YouTube. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 14(4), 1050 - 1079.
- Kalman, Y.M. & Rafaeli, S. (2011). Online pauses and silence: Chronemic expectancy violations in written computer-mediated communication. Communication Research, 38 (1) 54-69.
- Lapadat, J.C. (2003). Teachers in an online seminar talking about talk: Classroom discourse and school change. Language and Education, 17(1), 21-41.
- Leinonen, P., Jarvela, S., & Lipponen, L. (2003). Individual students' interpretations of their contribution to the computer-mediated discussions. Journal of Interactive Learning Research, 14(1), 99-122.
- Lin, L. (2008). An online learning model to facilitate learners' rights to education. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks (JALN), 12(1), pp. 127-143. [Special issue distributed by Sloan-C JALN in collaboration with five other international journals: http://www.distanceandaccesstoeducation.org/]
- Lin, L., Cranton, P. & Bridglall, B. (2005). Psychological type and asynchronous written dialogue in adult learning. Teachers College Record, 107(8), 1788-1813.
- MackNnight, C.B. (2000). Teaching critical thinking through online discussions. Educause Quarterly, 4, 38-41.
- Poole, D.M. (2000). Student participation in a discussion-oriented online course: A case study. Journal of Research on Computing in Education, 33(2), 162-176.
- Schrire, S. (2003). A model for evaluating the process of learning in asynchronous computer conferencing. Journal of Instructional Delivery Systems, 17(1), 6-12.
- Tidwell, L. C., & Walther, J. B. (2002). Computer-mediated communication effects on disclosure, impressions, and interpersonal evaluations: Getting to know one another a bit at a time. Human communication research, 28(3), 317-348.
- Vonderwell, S. (2002). An examination of asynchronous communication experiences and perspectives of students in an online course: A case study. The Internet and Higher Education, 6, 77-90.
- Wade, S.E., & Fauske, J.R. (2004). Dialogue online: Prospective teachers' discourse strategies in computer-mediated discussions. Reading Research Quarterly, 39(2), 134-160.
- Walther, J. B. (2007). Selective self-presentation in computer-mediated communication: Hyperpersonal dimensions of technology, language, and cognition. Computers in Human Behavior, 23(5), 2538-2557.
- Wu, D., & Hiltz, S.R. (2004). Predicting learning from asynchronous online discussions. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 8(2), 139-152.