CSCW-course/KSE 980325

Questions on "Connections" by Sproull and Kiesler

1. Explain what S&K mean by a two-level perspective on technology. Give examples of first-level effects and second-level effects of electronic mail and other technologies.

2. Discuss early experiences of traditional technologies like telephone, typewriter and railroads that you think are relevant for understanding new communication technologies and their use.

3. S&K mention three activities in which e-mail was helpful in group coordination: Scheduling, task assignments, reporting accomplishments and general awareness (e.g. by posting summaries). Discuss how e-mail, through its written and asynchronous properties, can also cause problems in each of these activities.

4. How can the loss of social awareness due to missing cues affect people's sense of the audience in electronic communication?

5. Give several examples that illustrate that people tend to disclose more information about themselves in electronic communication than in other media. Example: e-mail questionnaires compared to paper questionnaires.

6. Define the notion of flaming, and discuss the extent to which you have encountered flaming events in your experience of electronic group communication. How can flaming be explained, according to S&K?

7. Discuss the ways in which the group process in CMC differs from that of face-to-face communication. In particular: who dominates, who talks, what time does it take.

8. Discuss some types of communication in which face-to-face (FtF) communication is preferred to CMC. Which roles can CMC have as a complement to FtF during a group decision process?

9. In which ways, according to S&K, can CMC contribute to increasing connections and knowledge exchange between people in an organisation? In particular, discuss how "peripheral" people can gain from CMC. Discuss also how electronic discussion groups can help create new contacts in an organisation (even if they concern "extracurricular" topics).

(What do S&K mean by peripheral vs. central?)

10. Discuss cases in which CMC can be a threat to managers or "gate-keepers", by fostering contacts across levels and hierarchies in an organisation.

11. Give examples of how the introduction and use of CMC can interfere with existing work procedures, and provoke organisational change.

12. S&K published their book in the beginning of the 90's. Discuss how recent developments of CMC and Internet technologies may affect the group processes and organisational network connections discussed by S&K. In particular, consider the following technological advances:

a) The powerful and accessible information infrastructure of the World Wide Web.

b) The access to multiple media and modalities in computer-mediated communications.