Tag Archives: interpersonal communication

Discussion seeds by Patrick O’Sullivan


In his paper outlining the Masspersonal Model of Communication, Patrick O’Sullivan (2005) poses several questions for further discussion.  I find them fascinating, and I pose them for you to ponder, as well.  In thinking about Facebook as a place where we have personal conversations in a public arena, O’Sullivan asks:

  • Why would someone share personal conversations with small or even large numbers of strangers?
  • How does the public nature of the message or exchange shape the process, message interpretations, and consequences for both the interactants and those witnessing the interaction?
  • How do these interactions differ from private personal interactions in outcomes?
  • How does awareness (or lack of awareness) of the public nature of the one-to-one interaction (one one or the other or both communicators) shape the communication episode and the outcomes?
  • What is the role of intentionality in shaping the interaction, such as when an interaction assumed and intended to be private is instead unintentionally made public?

Food for thought … if you figure it out, let me know! =)

OSullivan, P. B. “Masspersonal Communication: Rethinking the Mass-Interpersonal Divide” Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association, Sheraton New York, New York City, NY Online. 2009-05-25 from http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p14277_index.html

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Filed under Reflections

Reflecting Online about Reflecting on Reflecting Online


My interests as a communication scholar lie at the intersection of interpersonal communication and social media.  (There’s a third road that leads to humor studies, but I hardly ever get to drive on that one.  Someday!)  Currently, I am exploring the question:

  • How do people evaluate advice through comments to Facebook wall posts?

This question is then broken down to:

  • How do people evaluate advice (in general)?
  • What are the unique features/characteristics of comments on Facebook wall posts as a communication medium?

For my question on advice evaluation, I am relying on Advice Response Theory (MacGeorge) for two reasons: one, because that is my advisor’s theory, and two, it’s really the only and best most comprehensive theory on advice evaluation out on the market today.  Advice response theory explains how message factors (things about the message itself) and source factors (perceptions about the advice giver) affect advice outcomes (how the advice recipient reacts the the advice).  This theory has been primarily tested in dyadic face-to-face situations, so it will be interesting to see how the theory works in both a computer-mediated environment, but also a social networking group setting.

My question on unique features of Facebook wall posts has sent me in several directions and led me to explore various theories on computer-mediated communication and social networking.  Some of the theories are The Hyperpersonal Model of Communication (Walther), the Masspersonal Communcation Model (O’Sullivan), online speech acts (Carr, Schrock, & Dauterman), and a few others.  The features about FB as a communication medium that seem to apply at this point to this discussion are that it fluctuates in its synchronicity, it is a shared space for multiple contributors, and it is a leaner communication medium (reduced non-verbal and social cues).

One of the more interesting concepts I’ve stumbled upon is “friendsourcing“.  Friendsourcing is like crowdsourcing, but with a more select group.  In this way, it is much more of a web 2.0 way of crowdsourcing ideas.  The reason I found this exciting is that while the idea has been around for a while (and people are talking about it in the business world), it is almost non-existent in academic literature.  It shows up in computer science literature about friendsourcing coding problems, and it shows up in an article about friendsourcing solutions through facebook for blind users looking for visual descriptions of objects from their friends.  I think there is a lot of mileage in this term, and it is time that this term made its way into the vocabulary of computer-mediated communication and digital sociology scholars.

One last thing I’ve discovered … the incredible work of the talented Jessica Vitak and Nicole Ellison (and friends) is going to become my new best friend. =)

Calling All Facebook Friends

Who Wants to Know? Question-asking and Answering Practices among Facebook Users

If you have any interest in this or ideas/suggestions for sources and directions, I’d love to hear them. =)

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