Back to computer-mediated communication

Naturally, different methods of interactional CMC range far beyond the three main registers previously outlined. As many of these methods are private, newly developed, and/or relatively unpopular, though, research can at times be hard to find.

Virtual worlds have traditionally been used by a relatively small proportion of the Internet community, but their starkly unique context has made them a tempting focus for sociological and linguistic studies. David Crystal notes the unusual syntax of text-based virtual worlds, which rely on narrative prose and imperative commands. On a completely different note, Deuel examines the linguistic qualities of sexual encounters in MUDs, or Multi-User Dungeons. More immersive forms of virtual worlds, such as the Second Life program, have great potential for further linguistic study.

Blogging is a form of CMC that was virtually unknown five years ago, but has exploded into a position of prominence and relevance for many Internet users. Crystal notes that some blogs are 'examples of a style of writing which has never been seen in a public, printed form, outside of literature.' Thelwall and Stewart examine the informal style and timely nature of many blogs in an analysis of communication techniques during crises.

Cellular phone text messaging, or SMS, exhibits many of the linguistic features of synchronous chat and instant messaging. However, since the length of a given SMS message is even more limited than a line in IRC or IM, compression tendencies are even further amplified. Phrases like ru2cnmel8r ('Are you two seeing me later?') are not uncommon.

Finally, there is the nascent field of social-networking website register research. Social-networking sites usually feature some sort of a "profile" or "home" page for each registered user, who has some sort of self-published content (interests, prose, art) displayed. Most sites have some sort of private messaging ability (similar to email) and some sort of public comment space (like a one-thread forum, or the comment space available on some blogs). The relative newness of most of these websites means that there is significant opportunity for all forms of CMC-related research, but some preliminary studies have already been conducted.

In Herring et al.'s 'Language Networks on LiveJournal', the multilingualism of the popular online-journal website is explored, with the conclusion that English is slowly, but surely, losing ground to other languages on the website and that multilingual LiveJournal users are playing a significant role. Perkel finds that the creation of MySpace profiles can lead to the 'development of new literacies'. Finally, a very recent study by HP Labs examines some qualities of private messages on Facebook.

Sources: Crystal, David. Language and the Internet: Second Edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006.
Golder, Scott A., Wilkinson, Dennis, and Huberman, Bernardo A. "Rhythms of Social Interaction: Messaging within a Massive Online Network." 3rd International Conference on Communities and Technologies (CT2007). East Lansing, MI. June 28-30, 2007.
Herring, Susan C., ed. Computer-Mediated Communication: Linguistic, Social and Cross-Cultural Perspectives. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 1996.
Herring, Susan C., et al. “Language Networks on LiveJournal.” Proceedings of the Fortieth Hawai’i International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS-40). Los Alamitos: IEEE Press. January, 2007.
Perkel, Dan. “Copy and Paste Literacy: Literacy practices in the production of a MySpace profile.” Informal Learning and Digital Media, 2006.
Thelwall, M. and Stuart, D. “RUOK? Blogging communication technologies during crises.” Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 12:2, article 9. 2007.

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