Mediated Interpersonal Communication

By Elly A. Konijn; Sonja Utz et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 3
Machines as mediators
The challenge of technology for
interpersonal communication theory
and research

Melanie D. Polkosky

In the past several years, we have become inundated with sleek, futuristic technologies that allow us to communicate more often from our places of work, homes, and everywhere in between. Communication technologies have become an important and prevalent means of social interaction that may be difficult, impossible, unavailable, or perhaps just more cumbersome through more traditional means. These technologies have impacted on our daily interactions with others and promise to do so for years to come.

Consider a recent business trip: I searched for and found my tickets on an internet webpage. A few days later when I called the airline, I spoke to an automated speech system, which confirmed my flight time and gate number. On the day of my flight, I received a text message on my cell phone alerting me that my flight was on time; when I arrived at the airport, I checked in and printed my boarding pass at a touch screen kiosk. After clearing security, I distractedly waited at the crowded gate, listening to the cacophony of people talking on their cell phones or fidgeting with their personal digital assistants (PDAs). Disturbing my hope of quiet contemplation, one man conspicuously and repeatedly yelled into his cell phone that his brother should definitely meet him at the apartment, not at the house, later that evening. Upon settling into my cramped seat on the plane, I heard about the safety features of my airline from a series of attendants shown on a small television screen. Aside from a couple of anonymous strangers who smiled at or briefly greeted me, my entire travel experience could have included no direct, face-to-face conversation with another human until I mentioned my beverage choice to a flight attendant.


Previous mediated interpersonal communication
research

Despite its ubiquitous presence in our everyday lives, technology as a whole has had relatively limited attention in the interpersonal communication field. A brief review of journals for the period 1985 to 2004 suggests that

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