Odd-Wiking Rahlff1, Rolf Kenneth Rolfsen1, Jo Herstad2, Do Van Thanh3 SINTEF1, University of Oslo2, Ericsson3
Communication is a vital and intrinsic ability of all organisms. Natural human face-to-face conversation is an interaction form that has taken mankind millions of years to master. More and more conversations are now being mediated through electronic means, phones, videophones, and computers. They are changed into what we call teleconversations. Here the very fabric of the natural conversation is stretched, in many respects enhanced, but unfortunately quite often torn as well, giving rise to various new forms of misunderstandings, startling surprises, and broken expectations. This might happen when a message or event suddenly breaks the expected context that one of the participants has modelled mentally. An example of this is when the expectation of the other part's physical location is suddenly adjusted, e.g. when somebody you believe are calling you from another country suddenly smilingly steps right into your living room wearing a cellular phone and a headset.
This paper starts by summing up an analysis of the structure and functions of communication, both natural and tele-mediated, into a simplified model. At the end some mechanisms for mediating context in teleconversations are suggested.
There are two main schools in the study of communications ( Fiske 1990). The first one, called "process school", sees communication as the transmission of messages. It is concerned with how senders and receivers encode and decode messages and with how transmitters use the channels and media. It is concerned with matters like efficiency and accuracy. The second school, called "semiotic school", sees communication as the production and exchange of meanings. This school is concerned with how messages, interact with people in order to