9/2- Networked Interactivity- Julia Duchossois

In Networked Interactivity, Rafaeli argues that interactivity, or the degree to which messages relate to one another and to previous messages, plays a role in explaining how computer mediated groups stick together, but that communication often falls short of interactivity.

Rafaeli begins by defining interactive communication as messages that take into account previous messages, as well as how these previous messages were reacted to and interacted with. He proposes that because of its simultaneous communicative nature, interactivity provides a ground for social bonding, mutuality, progression of content and more, in both face to face contact and computer mediated communication (CMC). Rafaeli explains the research (methodology, sampling, reliability, results) on group CMC interaction, which he argues must be explained on a social level and defined by the proportion of agreeing  versus disagreeing content, and should be more community-oriented, self-disclosing, etc. In terms of results, the experiment suggested that interactive messages were slightly longer than reactive ones, messages were more likely to be agreeable, and the interactive messages do not differ in how factual they are in comparison to other  messages. From these results, Rafaeli predicts that interactivity is a mechanism for formation of virtual communities, and in generating the growth of these groups, however there is still much research to be done on interactivity across platforms, in the future, and on different levels. Additionally, the work showed that interactivity is variable, there is not a simple dichotomy between interactive messages and other types, and that behavioral correlates were shown to vary with the differences in interactivity.

After reading about the concepts and research in the work, I see Rafaeli’s argument as valid because it is based on a controlled experiment with clearly defined methods, reliability, and findings. I did find the reading a bit difficult to follow because at points, it seemed as though the definition of interactivity was changing. However I understand that interactivity plays a role among multiple interactions, and thus we would be taking away from the depth of the concept by providing a simple definition.

I also find it important to note that the messages that were coded for analysis were from the year 1993, and the paper was published in 1997. In the 20+ years following this publication, technology has improved greatly and I predict that online interactions have increased exponentially. With this being said, the trends among interactivity and the quality of messages among online users may be different today.

4 thoughts on “9/2- Networked Interactivity- Julia Duchossois

  1. Having read a different article, I also found that the definition of interactivity is tough to settle on. However, in both of our articles, it seems clear that interactivity is very closely tied to socialization. I am curious if you and the author think that this interaction has any negative impacts on human socialization. While it does certainly force interaction, I wonder if this type of interaction leads to poorer socialization than if interaction was exclusively in person. While I know interactivity more pertains to the simultaneous interaction of the person and all of the stimuli they’re receiving on the computer, I am interested in the idea of how interactivity related to human – to – human socialization.

  2. I also read a different article and completely agree. The one I read explained the different types of interactivity that we have as users on different platforms, and I realized that there may not be just one definition of it. In terms of communication falling short, I find that depending on the type of content that is being communicated, people are more or less willing to share and seek information. Though my article was on health information exchange, I found that communication in this area definitely struggles, and there is a lot more research to be done. I agree with the author in that this interaction is the driving force of the formation of virtual communities, and I think it would be interesting to come up with different ways that might encourage users to interact more virtually.

  3. I definitely agree that the reading is somehow difficult to read, and there are a lot of new definitions among the reading. I have to push myself to read in a slow pace. Also, I like your idea that you noticed the time since that provides a background information of that age. Years can change things that people never could imagine, especially in the aspect of technology. After reading your blog, I went back and found that my article published in 2004, and I did not noticed that when I was reading. Thinking back what I have read, the background information made more sense to me!

  4. Julia, I found your summary to be very clear and while the paper may have been somewhat difficult to understand when you read it, you made it very understandable to the reader. That being said, I find the topics in Rafaeli’s article to be very interesting and take a different approach to interactivity than the article I read. I completely agree that interactivity is a way of connecting humans to technology and it allows for us to engage rather than operate almost robotically. I honestly had never thought about interactivity to the extent that Rafaeli discusses online communities, but as he highlights this idea throughout the paper, I find it to be very compelling. I am curious if Rafaeli believes there are levels of interactivity that determine one’s experience or connection with the virtual world? How interactive does an experience need to be for these communities to form?

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