1. Based on your experience in various cyberspace venues, is there, as Short et al, (1976), proposed, a lack of the presence of others when communicating and interacting online? And does this affect how you behave?
I personally think there is some level of presence of others – whether this is just because when I have been in cyberspace, it has been in class, where I am physically surrounded by my peers, I am not sure – but there is some part at the back of my mind that still reminds me that the avatars I see on the screen are still people somewhere in the world. I am only speaking for my experience in Second Life here; as I think it is definitely different for text based communication (chat rooms). I would imagine my behaviour would be different in a chat room that it is in Second Life. In a chat room I think I would be more inclined to perhaps say things that I wouldn’t usually say or I’d say more than what I usually say. I would have lost all inhibitions and would have no sense of accountability and responsibility for anything I say. However in Second Life, there is a part of me that wants to slightly remain as myself, or at least come across as a good person, since I feel that my avatar mostly reflects my real self.
2. Which of the criticisms of the 'social cues filtered out' model of Sproull & Kiesler do you find to be the most compelling evidence against its validity...and why?
One of things this model claims is that visual cues and body language are cut out from computer mediated communication however this can certainly be overcome through the use of emoticons and ‘creative keyboarding’ to put across any emotions we may want to express. Sproull and Kiesler (1986) suggest that there are three types of variables that contribute to social context – geographic cues, organisational cues and situational cues. While some people may argue that these are filtered out online, they can be easily told during an online conversation. Just because we can’t immediately judge a person based on what they look like to conclude their class, age, gender etc, does not mean we still can’t find out what type of person they are. As Walther (1992) says, computer mediated communication is quite capable of transmitting these particular ‘social cues’. Walther (1995) even questioned whether they were important, particularly to help relationships between online ‘chatters’ to grow. Under the right circumstances, if you like somebody, then you cues like age, job, title, class and ethnicity don’t really matter.