November 12, 12pm: Mike Owen Benediktsson and Carolina Aldas, “Mode Switching: Social Meaning and the Medium of Choice”

Presenter: Mike Owen Benediktsson

Time: Wednesday, November 12, 2014, 12pm – 1:30pm

Location: Room 1631, Hunter West, Hunter College, 695 Park Ave., New York, NY 10065


An important, but largely unstudied social dimension of the digital age is how the proliferation of communicative media at any person’s disposal affects specific interactions and relationships. In addition to face-to-face interaction and voice calls, digital adopters now have a range of “one-to-one” asynchronous media (e.g. texting, email), as well as hybrid, quasi-synchronous media (e.g. instant messaging, online chatting), and “one-to-many” media (e.g. a publicly visible post on social media).

In choosing how to communicate with each other, in other words, the options have multiplied. The sociological and ethical aspects of individual forms of new media have been extensively debated, but no research to date has looked at how moment-by-moment choices between a growing variety of media are made. In ongoing research drawing upon data from focus group sessions with Hunter undergraduates, I look at how digital natives decide to communicate specific social messages.

It turns out that the decisions themselves carry meaning, as young digital natives switch between media depending upon the particular social “affordances” (Gibson 1979; Wellman 2003) offered by any given medium.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s