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Culture Affects CMC Essay

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Culture Affects CMC

            Communication is an essential social experience for humans. Communication is universal, but it is also an exclusive product of one’s culture. It is part of one’s culture, learned patterns, and perception of behavior.[1] Different societies have reinforced in people attitudes that shape their manner of communication, and thus the variance of communication style in every culture.

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            Communication is also changed by how people invented ways to improve how they talk with others. Technology has granted humans tools that have changed how people communicate. Computer mediated communication (CMC) allows reliable feedback and semi-synchronous communication, as well as the convenience of faster and cheaper long-distance communication. Mobile phones and the internet are instruments of CMC. There is no real substitute in conversing face to face. CMC has limitations that one does not encounter in ordinary conversations. The text and voice and text only kinds of CMC lose non-verbal communication cues such as a person’s eye gaze, facial expression, tone of voice, and gestures. Body language is not intentionally communicative, but it is an accurate sign of the conversation state.[2] It gauges listener’s attention, understanding, and honest response to what was said.

            Social cues are important for discussion and the resulting output quality. Asians are more affected by its absence, since they thrive in high-context exchanges than Westerners who take communication at face value, whether face to face or in instant messages (IM) only.[3] A study found out how lack of social cues in IM interface causes difference in people’s message quality, content, persuasion, and task performance compared to face to face conversations. American-American (AA) pairs, despite using fewer words and having shorter conversations than Chinese-Chinese (CC) pairs, had better task performance results. CC pairs’ task results were negatively affected by the switch to IM and were also more persuadable than AA pairs. Notably, CC pairs rated their interaction quality higher than rest.[4]

Asians and Westerners also develop culture-related diversity in exploring and learning from websites. Culture also affects how people build websites. A study found out that Asians have a holistic learning approach. They see information in a context and follow its interaction with other information. Westerners, particularly Americans, are more analytical. They find highlighting differences and divisions in the information helpful than correlating them. They prefer organizing information by hierarchy rather than by context relationships.[5]

            Apart from acquiring information, CMC is used to reach loved ones and reconnect with friends. In Israel, CMC instruments like the mobile phone can also represent romance and female independence from the patriarchal society. Palestinian girls fight against their subordination by disobeying their fathers’ rule against having boyfriends. The mobile phone allows the girls to continue their hidden romantic affair and has then become a symbol for girls’ emancipation.[6]

Regardless of race and culture, all people use and benefit from using CMC. However, the study revealed that culture affects and is evident with how a person uses and gains from CMC. While Asians need a collective go-signal before proceeding with the work, Westerners are individualistic enough to work without reassurance as long as they feel they are correct. Asians substitute sensitivity to contextual cues by frequently asking question and showing willingness to follow the other’s opinion. This leads to Asians’ conversations being longer than Westerners’.

Bibliography

Faiola, A & FK Macdorman, ‘The Influence Of Holistic And Analytic Cognitive Styles On Online Information Design: Toward a communication theory of cultural cognitive design’, Information, Communication & Society, Vol, 11, no. 3, 2008, pp. 348-374, retrieved 13 January 2009, Karl F. Macdorman, <http://www.macdorman.com/kfm/writings/pubs/Faiola2008HolisticAnalyticCognitiveStyles.pdf>

Fussell, SR & NI Benimoff, ‘Social and cognitive processes in interpersonal communication: Implications for advanced telecommunications technologies’, Human Factors, Vol. 37, 1995, pp. 228-250, retrieved 13 January 2009, Carnegie Mellon University, <http://www-2.cs.cmu.edu/~sfussell/pubs/Manuscripts/Fussell%26Benimoff_95.pdf>

Hijazi-Omari, H & R Ribak, ‘Playing With Fire: On the domestication of the mobile phone among Palestinian teenage girls in Israel’, Information, Communication & Society, Vol. 11, no. 2, 2008, pp 149-166, retrieved 13 January 2009, University of Haifa, <http://hevra.haifa.ac.il/com/faculty-panorama/AoIR-final-draft-2007.pdf>

O’Neil, D, ‘What is culture?’, Palomar Community College, 2006, retrieved January 13, 2009, <http://anthro.palomar.edu/culture/culture_1.htm>.

Setlock, LD, SR Fussel, & C Neuwirth, ‘Taking it out of context: collaborating within and across cultures in face-to-face settings and via instant messaging’, Computer Supported Cooperative Work, 2004, pp 604-613, retrieved 13 January 2009, Carnegie Mellon University, <http://www-2.cs.cmu.edu/~sfussell/pubs/Manuscripts/p291-setlock.pdf>

[1] D O’Neil, ‘What is culture?’, Palomar Community College, 2006, retrieved January 13, 2009, <http://anthro.palomar.edu/culture/culture_1.htm>
[2] SR Fussell & NI Benimoff, ‘Social and cognitive processes in interpersonal communication: Implications for advanced telecommunications technologies’, Human Factors, Vol. 37, 1995, pp 228-250, retrieved 13 January 2009, Carnegie Mellon University, <http://www-2.cs.cmu.edu/~sfussell/pubs/Manuscripts/Fussell%26Benimoff_95.pdf>
[3] LD Setlock, SR Fussel, & C Neuwirth, ‘Taking it out of context: collaborating within and across cultures in face-to-face settings and via instant messaging’, Computer Supported Cooperative Work, 2004, pp 604-613, retrieved 13 January 2009, Carnegie Mellon University, <http://www-2.cs.cmu.edu/~sfussell/pubs/Manuscripts/p291-setlock.pdf>
[4] Ibid.
[5] A Faiola & KF Macdorman, ‘The Influence Of Holistic And Analytic Cognitive Styles On Online Information Design: Toward a communication theory of cultural cognitive design’, Information, Communication & Society, Vol. 11, no. 3, 2008, pp 348-374, retrieved 13 January 2009, Karl F. Macdorman, <http://www.macdorman.com/kfm/writings/pubs/Faiola2008HolisticAnalyticCognitiveStyles.pdf>
[6] H Hijazi-Omari, & R Ribak, ‘Playing With Fire: On the domestication of the mobile phone among Palestinian teenage girls in Israel’, Information, Communication & Society, Vol.11, no. 2, 2008, pp 149-166, retrieved 13 January 2009, University of Haifa, <http://hevra.haifa.ac.il/com/faculty-panorama/AoIR-final-draft-2007.pdf>