Cultural Aspects Of Communication Online

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Information about Cultural Aspects Of Communication Online

Published on March 18, 2009

Author: cmcculloch

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Cultural Aspects of Communication Processes Online: Identity, Gender, and Language in Synchronous Cybercultures. Charlotte N.(Lani) Gunawardena. Professor

Cultural Aspects of Communication Processes Online: Identity, Gender, and Language in Synchronous Cybercultures Charlotte N.(Lani) Gunawardena Professor University of New Mexico USA EDEN 08 Annual Conference June 11-14 June, Lisbon

How Do We Learn? Where Do We Learn? How do diverse sociocultural contexts shape communication processes online? What are the communication conventions naturally developed by Internet users when they use the medium informally?

How do diverse sociocultural contexts shape communication processes online?

What are the communication conventions naturally developed by Internet users when they use the medium informally?

Morocco Arzou AinLeuh Ifrane Fez

Sri Lanka Galle Batticaloa Colombo Kandy

Purpose Generate a conceptual framework of sociocultural factors in visually anonymous synchronous chat by studying the informal use of the medium (often to build relationships with strangers)

Generate a conceptual framework of sociocultural factors in visually anonymous synchronous chat by studying the informal use of the medium (often to build relationships with strangers)

Research Questions Focused on: How is identity expressed in informal visually anonymous online chat? Are there gender differences in the negotiation of identity? How is language used to express identity and communicate online?

How is identity expressed in informal visually anonymous online chat?

Are there gender differences in the negotiation of identity?

How is language used to express identity and communicate online?

Study Design Qualitative, ethnographic perspective to examine communication conventions and conduct interviews Grounded theory building to develop a conceptual framework Focus group and individual interviews conducted in Moroccan Arabic, French, Sinhala, Tamil & English Interdisciplinary research team of 4: USA (1), Morocco (2), Sri Lanka (1).

Qualitative, ethnographic perspective to examine communication conventions and conduct interviews

Grounded theory building to develop a conceptual framework

Focus group and individual interviews conducted in Moroccan Arabic, French, Sinhala, Tamil & English

Interdisciplinary research team of 4: USA (1), Morocco (2), Sri Lanka (1).

Similarities and Differences in the Study Contexts Morocco – Arab, Berber, Muslim, Mediterranean African country, more recently colonized by the French, speaking Standard Arabic, Moroccan Arabic, Berber, and French Sri Lanka – Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslim country, predominantly Buddhist, more recently colonized by the English, speaking Sinhala, Tamil, and English.

Morocco – Arab, Berber, Muslim, Mediterranean African country, more recently colonized by the French, speaking Standard Arabic, Moroccan Arabic, Berber, and French

Sri Lanka – Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslim country, predominantly Buddhist, more recently colonized by the English, speaking Sinhala, Tamil, and English.

Participants General public who used Internet Cafés and university students who used the Internet in campus labs Specifically those who used chat to communicate with people they do not know Morocco – 55 adults (36 males, 19 females) Sri Lanka – 50 adults (33 males, 17 females)

General public who used Internet Cafés and university students who used the Internet in campus labs

Specifically those who used chat to communicate with people they do not know

Morocco – 55 adults (36 males, 19 females)

Sri Lanka – 50 adults (33 males, 17 females)

Findings: Emerging Conceptual Framework Identity Trust building Self disclosure Gender differences Innovation of language forms to express identity and generate immediacy

Identity

Trust building

Self disclosure

Gender differences

Innovation of language forms to express identity and generate immediacy

Tokens of Identity ASL (Age, Sex, and Location) Depending on context will reveal true identity, create a different identity, or blend identity in and ID (e.g.: “lone wolf”) Moroccan concept of self is collective –calling on traits of groups to establish identity Moroccans often caught between the “high context” world of Moroccan culture and the “low context” world of their European interlocutors

ASL (Age, Sex, and Location)

Depending on context will reveal true identity, create a different identity, or blend identity in and ID (e.g.: “lone wolf”)

Moroccan concept of self is collective –calling on traits of groups to establish identity

Moroccans often caught between the “high context” world of Moroccan culture and the “low context” world of their European interlocutors

Identity Play Anonymity - more open expression of identity –need not conform to social expectations of stating sex, geographical origin, class, age, etc. Age and sex are more important than location when expressing identity. Location hinders access. Stereotyping takes place more easily in text only environments (e.g.: Mohammed to “Green Python” to gain access to people) Identity can be changed to appeal to different audiences

Anonymity - more open expression of identity –need not conform to social expectations of stating sex, geographical origin, class, age, etc.

Age and sex are more important than location when expressing identity. Location hinders access.

Stereotyping takes place more easily in text only environments (e.g.: Mohammed to “Green Python” to gain access to people)

Identity can be changed to appeal to different audiences

Crossing Boundaries Role play in anonymous chat – Posing as Europeans or claiming a different gender identity Construction of cybernetic identities enabled disenfranchised persons and communities to deal with exclusion & marginalization. Eg: AinLeuh – where the café is the domain of men, women make connections with men outside their community through the Internet

Role play in anonymous chat – Posing as Europeans or claiming a different gender identity

Construction of cybernetic identities enabled disenfranchised persons and communities to deal with exclusion & marginalization. Eg: AinLeuh – where the café is the domain of men, women make connections with men outside their community through the Internet

Identity and Trust Building Techniques to determine trust worthiness: Asking a series of questions in the initial encounter and asking the same questions later to determine consistency Extensive exaggeration usually signals someone faking “gender” Mobile phones to verify authencity

Techniques to determine trust worthiness:

Asking a series of questions in the initial encounter and asking the same questions later to determine consistency

Extensive exaggeration usually signals someone faking “gender”

Mobile phones to verify authencity

Trust Building and Use of Media Chatters have “heirarchized” methods of communication: Chatting – low risk, easy to dismiss E-mail – more personal and presents a larger risk than chat. More serious and honest when compared to chat. Mobile phones – are riskier and incorporate a level of trust.

Chatters have “heirarchized” methods of communication:

Chatting – low risk, easy to dismiss

E-mail – more personal and presents a larger risk than chat. More serious and honest when compared to chat.

Mobile phones – are riskier and incorporate a level of trust.

Identity, Trust Building and Self Disclosure Disclosure of private life and personal experiences increases trust building Self disclosure and building trust enhances social presence Anonymity increases ability to self-disclose. Anonymity also encourages superficial relationships

Disclosure of private life and personal experiences increases trust building

Self disclosure and building trust enhances social presence

Anonymity increases ability to self-disclose.

Anonymity also encourages superficial relationships

Gender Differences Virtual identities breach the dichotomy of public and private space in Moroccan society (Graiouid 2004). Females enjoy the anonymity which allows them to build relationships without compromising themselves. Sri Lankan women less comfortable with self-disclosure online

Virtual identities breach the dichotomy of public and private space in Moroccan society (Graiouid 2004). Females enjoy the anonymity which allows them to build relationships without compromising themselves.

Sri Lankan women less comfortable with self-disclosure online

Gender Differences Women will take the extra effort to resolve misunderstandings even if the relationship is not that strong Females reported being harassed online, and therefore, were more cautious

Women will take the extra effort to resolve misunderstandings even if the relationship is not that strong

Females reported being harassed online, and therefore, were more cautious

Language Native language is transliterated on the Latin keyboard to increase social presence

Native language is transliterated on the Latin keyboard to increase social presence

I. MNIN DEFNOU’H MA ZA’ROU’H (“Since they buried him, they forgot about him,” an expression which means “After you used me, you forgot me”)   3 7 9 ع ح ق   II. Why = 3lach ( ع )   III. Salam 3alikoum ! (Greeting)   IV. Numbers used to express Arabic characters and sounds 3 -> ع (ain) 9 -> ق (kah) 8 -> ه (hah)     Moroccan Arabic in Latin Script:

Examples of Sinhala written in English: Ayubowan – How are you? Paw – I feel sorry for you Hondai – good   Examples of Tamil written in English: Aniyayam – what a waste!

Language of Chat Different idioms to express realness- feel of the conversation Ideas or opinions that acknowledge chatter’s culture French used for polite conversations, Moroccan Arabic to deal with conflict and difficult situations Emoticons Using other media- cell phones, webcams, e-mail Challenge- in a high context culture, providing context when typing is difficult

Different idioms to express realness- feel of the conversation

Ideas or opinions that acknowledge chatter’s culture

French used for polite conversations, Moroccan Arabic to deal with conflict and difficult situations

Emoticons

Using other media- cell phones, webcams, e-mail

Challenge- in a high context culture, providing context when typing is difficult

Language (continued) Paralanguage –a method for communicating social information – imagined ID, or pseudonym Different font sizes and colors: To enhance photos Comic sans for friends Arial and Century Gothic for more formal communication

Paralanguage –a method for communicating social information – imagined ID, or pseudonym

Different font sizes and colors:

To enhance photos

Comic sans for friends

Arial and Century Gothic for more formal communication

Implications for Learning Cultures Expression of identity is important for relationship building, but self-disclosure is not easy, especially for women. Developing protocols for introductions will help Creation of identity enables one to experience the world in a new way – will lend itself well to role play & simulations Anonymity is important to facilitate honest dialogue on controversial issues

Expression of identity is important for relationship building, but self-disclosure is not easy, especially for women. Developing protocols for introductions will help

Creation of identity enables one to experience the world in a new way – will lend itself well to role play & simulations

Anonymity is important to facilitate honest dialogue on controversial issues

Implications for Learning Cultures Posting photos with introductions can lead to stereotyping and reduce anonymity. It is important to devise other means of self-disclosure and provide a comfort zone especially for women Context is key to understanding messages and participants should be encouraged to provide context to enable the deciphering of a message

Posting photos with introductions can lead to stereotyping and reduce anonymity. It is important to devise other means of self-disclosure and provide a comfort zone especially for women

Context is key to understanding messages and participants should be encouraged to provide context to enable the deciphering of a message

Future Considerations: How is identity, gender and language expressed in virtual worlds such as Second Life?

How is identity, gender and language expressed in virtual worlds such as Second Life?

Reference This study will be published as a book chapter in the forthcoming book on “ Learning Cultures ” edited by Robin Goodfellow and Marie Noelle Lamy of the Open University, U.K., to be published by Continuum.

This study will be published as a book chapter in the forthcoming book on “ Learning Cultures ” edited by Robin Goodfellow and Marie Noelle Lamy of the Open University, U.K., to be published by Continuum.

Acknowledgements U.S. Dept. of State Fulbright Regional Research Scholarship 2004-2005 Research Assistants: Fadwa Bouachrine, Al-Akhawayn University, Ifrane, Morocco Ahmed Idrissi Alami, University of Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah, Fez, Morocco Gayathri Jayatilleke, Open University of Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka

U.S. Dept. of State Fulbright Regional Research Scholarship 2004-2005

Research Assistants:

Fadwa Bouachrine, Al-Akhawayn University, Ifrane, Morocco

Ahmed Idrissi Alami, University of Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah, Fez, Morocco

Gayathri Jayatilleke, Open University of Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka

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