School of Communication and Media
Ongoing inquiry in communication technology research includes the questions of whether and how users adapt communication to the relatively restricted codes provided by text-based computer-mediated communication (CMC). This study proposes that adaptations may be affected by the level of simultaneity in messaging that CMC systems afford users. This suggestion is examined through an analysis of the particular conversational management strategies afforded by a fully synchronous computer-mediated communication system in which message transmission is keystroke-by-keystroke. Conversation analyses performed on the transcript of a three-person online conversation suggest several conclusions: Despite the novelty of the system, the CMC users appropriated and adapted many techniques from face-to-face conversations for the local management of conversations, including turn taking, turn allocation, and explicit interruption management. At the time, turn exchange was accomplished by the use of overlapping intermittent talk followed by lengthy strategic pauses, rather than according to the “no gap, no overlap” ideal of spoken conversation. Overall, the computer-mediated exchanges appeared resilient to modality change, and users spontaneously and creatively employed both traditional and technical features of conversation management.