Monday, December 20, 2004


Outline of M. Lynne Markus’s Toward a “Critical Mass” Theory of Interactive Media

Outline of M. Lynne Markus’s
Toward a “Critical Mass” Theory of Interactive Media

-The purpose of this chapter was to ID key factors that affect the achievement of universal access among communities utilizing an interactive medium and further internal use within the communities.

Importance of Universal Access
-Once it is achieved, members of that community have the ability to realize the interactive medium’s full benefits and quite possible it maximum potential

-Once it is achieved, communities can afford to leave behind the older medium for the more current one.

Difficulty of Achieving Universal Access
-Those who use an interactive medium prior to universal access may fall short of experiencing the full benefits of the medium due to the insufficient number of users of the medium and the high costs of maintaining limited communication channels via the medium.

-In the absence of a sizable number of initial users a new medium can either fail to spread or be eliminated altogether (critical mass).

Diffusion, Interdependence, and Critical Mass
Diffusion Theory
-The first to adopt an innovation do so because they can obtain the benefits of performing the innovative activity.

-Whether it is out of a greater need for the innovation than others or the benefits are proportional to the length and intensity of use the earlier adopters get the spoils.

-In order for universal access or a high level of interactivity to be achieved with an innovative medium, early adopters rely heavily on later adopters to follow – otherwise the innovation will fail to achieve its full potential.

Critical Mass Theory
-A small, but segment of population vital towards achieving universal access; this segment will be a determining factor making a medium significant to the community.

Applying Critical Mass Theory to Interactive Media
Resource Contributions for Universal Access:
-Equipment: infrastructure and access devices
-Effort: knowledge of medium and some communication discipline

-Basis 1: Technological configuration of the medium in a specific community

-Basis 2: Mechanisms within a community to fund the acquisition and operation of the medium

-Basis 3: recognizing communication procedures/protocols

Prop 1: Reduction in the resources early adopters ought to contribute to an interactive medium will increase the likelihood of universal access.

-Basis 4: Recognizing levels of communication knowledge

Prop 1a: Higher levels of skill and effort requirements will lower the likelihood of universal access of an interactive medium.

-Basis 5: Based on equipment requirements, different classes of interactive media will vary widely.

Prop 1b: Higher levels of communication discipline requirements will lower the likelihood of universal access of an interactive medium.

-Basis 6: Laws of supply and demand, as well as access financial and non-financial resources.

Prop 1c: High equipment costs borne by early users of the medium will lower the likelihood of universal access.

-Basis 1: Variation in the degree to which individuals can benefit promotes collective action when the production function is accelerating or decelerating.

-Basis: 2: Variation in the degree to which individuals can contribute promotes collective action when the production function is accelerating.

Prop 2: Heterogeneity of interests and resources among community members will increase likelihood of achieving universal access.

-Basis 3: Through the need for information and the need for functional specialization and differentiation, task interdependence promotes heterogeneity of interests in and resources for universal access.

Prop 2a: Task interdependence or network density increases likelihood of universal access.

-Basis 4: Resources (i.e.: information) is valuable because there is a need for it; hence, seekers or consumers in a community must be recognized in the infrastructure.

Prop 2b: Centralization increases the likelihood of universal access.

-Basis 5: [Maintaining and modifying] the accessibility to resources is key to building community as it grows.

Prop 2c: Geographic dispersion increases the likelihood of universal access

Discussion: Looking at the extent of media diffusion
A: Implications for Research

-Looking into Media choice of a community
What are the media interests if a community?
What purpose does a certain medium serve?
What level of knowledge or resources does the community have?

-Boundaries of communities: sub groups and subunits
Looking at how interactive media spread from one group into another within a community

-Time Factor: Determining when and how long a medium has been used
Is the medium current or obsolete to a community?
Infrastructures may change over time

-Size and Structure of a community:
Infrastructures may vary

B: Implications for Practice
-Theories can not apply unless they can be applied through some empirical research

-Successful implementation will vary based on the relationship between the parties formulating the strategy and the community adopting the medium

-Even if an entire community uses an interactive medium simultaneously, individual members differ in their information processing behavior; reinforcement behaviors, and media preferences.

Interactive media are assumed to have to key properties apart from other media:
reciprocal interdependence
comprises a public good for those who work hard to achieve it.

Critical Mass Theory focuses on the collective benefit rather than the individual gain; however, the gains will vary according to an individual’s perception and background.



Markus’s article on the use of E-mail by managers held a great deal of resonance for me. As an officer of a publication company here on campus, I find that the technology has been most effective in communicating with my colleagues and employees asynchronously. Based in the information richness theory, among the great advantages of utilizing email today versus other common modes of communication (i.e.: voice mail, hand- or type-written messages etc.) are the opportunities for timely feedback, the ability to convey multiple cues, language variety. Personally, I find the ability to tailor messages to personal, as well as professional, circumstances to be the greatest attribute of e-mail.

In many instances, I am faced with the responsibility of corresponding with multiple people simultaneously on professional matters with the realization that we communicate and interact differently from an individual basis. Collectively, however, we have not all been able to effectively communicate and interact due to such constraints as time and space. These recurrences have nearly threatened our ability accomplish many important tasks pertinent to our organization. Email allows one to take his/her time to create, edit, and revise messages tailored to address a single receiver or multiple recipients.

I think what is key to successful use of this medium is knowing with whom one is communicating. Having some familiarity of the sender or the receiver will help the other understand what the message pertains to - thereby making the message more effective. In other cases, knowing an individual’s position within or outside an organization can be conducive to understanding the nature and business behind the message. Another advantage to the medium is that it allows the author and the recipient(s) to have a recorded log of when a message was sent. As a result this minimizes, if not eliminate, the loss or removal of important messages through other media such as the telephone or print.

Since this research was conducted about 10 years ago, it was not surprising to find that the participants of this research were more inclined to discuss personal matters in person than via email and more professional matters via email. For one, with such concerns and regulations in the workplace regarding the use of this technology (that still exist in many companies today), email is an electronic convenience like many others before that can be appropriated for so many other uses. The great thing about email is that it has evolved into a synchronous medium thanks to the innovation of instant messaging via the internet and cellular phones thereby permeating between being a synchronous and asynchronous medium.


Student Perspectives on Online Education

Leonard, J. & Guha, S. (2001). “Education at the Crossroads: Online Teaching and Students’ Perspectives on Distance Learning.” Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 34, 51-57.

The article touches on how the internet offers post-secondary institutions and their students with new opportunities to learn through the flexibility online learning provides. With today’s computer and other technological advances, online courses are increasing in number and scope. From this study, students in the sample were generally comfortable with the online instruction for their math and education courses. They developed their navigational skills of the virtual environment, while acquiring the required content of their courses. In spite of these responses, the researchers found that there was definitely a need for more improvement in the organization and delivery of online services to the students as their needs and the technology change over time. However, with all the conveniences that online education can provide, this article raises an important question over the need for online education versus the desire for it.

It seems that many schools from kindergarten through college seem to feel online education is the solution to many of their organizational and educational problems or as a standard for competing with rival schools to acquire new prospects. It is true that online education provides many tools to help provide support to instructors in their profession, as well as students in their development. Understanding the technology and learning how to wield it cannot ensure the success of online education alone - for solidifying its structure and development are also key.


Article for online education

Steele, J., and Brown, J. (1995), "Adolescent room culture: Studying media in the context of everyday life." Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 24 (5), p. 551-576.

This is one of the most important pieces of research ever written with regards to American youth and media use. It especially has some pertinence to understanding the expectations and needs involved in creating online education. Although this article is nearly a decade old, it touches on the reality that media is omnipresent is the lives of children from print to electronic media. In addressing the public’s concern over mass media effects of children and adolescents, Steele and Brown find that media are potentially influential upon American because children and adolescents spend more time with mass media than they do in school or with family. To fully understand this concept, one must consider how youth are exposed to and utilize mass media. In addition to “pedestrian” media such as print (newspapers, magazines, posters), most of today’s youth have such technological conveniences as the television, the radio, and computers not only in their schools as learning aids, but also in the homes and their rooms.

From this his article, media technology and media content are at the core of observing American youth’s lives. According to the researchers, media are not just observed in terms of material artifacts, but also as contexts by which youth engage in activities. Over a six-year span, the researchers interviewed children from ages 11 to 18 to study how

From their findings, Steele and Brown comprised a media practice model. The components for their model were:
-Selection: the act of choosing media or media-related alternatives influenced by motivations
-Interaction: cognitive, affective, and behavioral engagement with media producing cultural meanings
-Application: appropriation (Frequently visible and active use of media) or incorporation (associative and internalized use of media)
-Identity: Sensing one’s self through media

Thursday, November 18, 2004


Impressions of ''

Impressions of ''
This documentary on conception, organization, management, and decline of a upstart dot-com company brought great insight into how companies should and should not be run. ‘’ revealed some of the professional and personal sacrifices that are sometimes made in the corporate world – especially in the dot-com industry – in order to attain some level of success.
Although there were no clear antagonists in the films other than a visiting rival from their competition and unknown saboteurs, the true enemies were the central characters’ respective egos. Driven by their motivation to make money in the short term instead of investing their time and energy in coordinating long term strategies for their company’s success obviously caused the company’s demise. However, their lack of faith in each other added to their troubles.
I once considered embarking on a business venture with some friends despite stories I have heard about previous ventures resulting in dissolved friendships. Our consideration of this venture was similar to how the 3 friends featured in the film based the potential for their idea to succeed: having a unique innovative idea that would be profitable; having some background and knowledge in the field we were pursuing; and friendship. However, there were intangibles that we could not predict, which could have resulted in either great triumph or utter disaster.
The picture did a great job of illustrating just how crucial networking, organization, and some intangibles are to bringing unique ideas into the mainstream. By the documentary’s end, however, I was left wondering if some sacrifices made in pursuit of professional success were truly worthwhile. Is it worth burning bridges to get ahead in the world? Is it worth it to retain personal relationships that might impair the potential for building new professional relationships? These questions are among many others that we must ask ourselves along the path of achieving professional success.


Online education

Hello everyone-

Based on our group meeting last week, here is a preliminary outline of our presentation on
Online Education:

-What is it?
-How does it compare or contrast to traditional education?

Rise of Online Education:
-When and how did this trend emerge?
-Provide examples of how online education is used as tools and as systems
(possibly domestically and globally)

-Benefits Online Education provides

-What are the limitations of Online Education

-Suggestions or Recommendations for the future of Online education
-Class discussion of experiences with online education

Friday, November 12, 2004


Choosing Online Education

Pape, L. (2004, April). Choosing Online Education. School Administrator. Retrieved November 1, 2004, from
In her article, “Choosing online education: good policies will lead to better decisions about virtual learning options” Liz Pape (2004) discusses how online education has been receiving a great deal of attention among elementary, middle and secondary schools. Some administrators and professionals in education see it as an alternative to remedy for under funded schools while others view it as another means for broadening the scope and reach educating students and training teachers.
According to Pape, “Good planning … will ensure successful use of online education for students.” In making decisions to provide education online from K through 12, administrators must make changes to improve education policy accordingly. Such decisions would have to include determining whether their districts would create their own online education programs or purchasing those that previously exist, as well as re-evaluating the instructional design, functions, and, training of faculty in this infrastructure.
Policy Formulation:
Policies to address potential areas of conflict need to be developed and set the framework within which all online courses will operate. School administrators would have to establish the following:
expectations for student attendance and performance in online courses;
expectations for teacher knowledge and performance in online courses;
how and when to grant credit for online courses;
how and when students are allowed to take an online course;
where responsibility lies for student discipline in online courses;
the extent of responsibility of the school for monitoring the online teacher and expectations for teacher presence in online courses;
School Resources:
Key questions in the following areas will help administrators better understand what makes an effective online course: (1) Does the school have the resources to acquire the necessary equipment and provide the necessary training? (2) Will the acquisition of online equipment benefit the students in the short or long term purpose?
-Course design. Determine whether the courses were designed for students to self-pace through the curriculum or if the course is designed and delivered within a specified period of time.
-Course interaction levels. Determine the number of students that are expected to be part of an online course at any given time. Is the course designed to encourage student-student and student-teacher interaction?
-Course completion and success rates. Course design and delivery standards can affect student engagement and completion in online courses. What percentage of students successfully complete an online course? How does the vendor measure successful completion and instruction?
-Course delivery. Determine how online courses are delivered. Assess whether students are expected to take the course at a certain time of the day (synchronous delivery) or can students connect to the online course at any time during the day or evening (asynchronous delivery).
-Course support. Determine quality of technical support.
-Communications, feedback, and assessment: Formulate a process for students, parents and school administrators to communicate questions or concerns about the online instruction system.
Additional Considerations:
To develop and provide online instruction within the district, administrators will need to address the following issues:
-Development resources: Adequate time must be set aside for course development and review of the curriculum and design standards prior to course delivery, as well as assessing the costs for such endeavors.
-Technical support and resources: Determine the quality of technical support and how the system will be physically the laid out and carried out.
-Security measures: These must be put in place to ensure that students are not able to visit inappropriate websites, and the system is protected from outsiders of the administration entering into the online courses.
-Delivery resources: Administrators must determine what technical skills teachers would require in order to teach online and for further development.

Thursday, September 30, 2004


College Students in Multimedia Relationships

Synopsis of Lauren Squires’ “College Students in Multimedia Relationships: Choosing, Using, and Fusing Communication Technologies”

This very interesting article explores the distinctions between online and offline relationships, as well as their impact once they are intertwined. In her piece, the author analyzed the role of communication technology in undergraduate relationships at American University in Washington, D.C. She looked at how students enter and develop personal relationships using such interactive media as email, mobile phones, instant and text messaging, and chat rooms as substitutes for face-to-face communication.

In conducting her research of these college students, Squires aimed to look at the extent of their multimedia relational maintenance, differences in the modes of interactive communication, and how those modes are integrated through both qualitative and quantitative methodology.

Among my critiques for this research paper:
1. Small sample size of focus groups and survey respondents.
(Although she incorporated a good deal of qualitative research from her focus group, I feel that a greater breadth of information could have been gathered if both groups of participants were larger.)

2. Ratio of participants by college year and gender
The majority of the focus group members were sophomores and the other years were barely well represented and as a result some of the participants’ responses were practically insignificant. Unless the ratio of the participants was similar to the school’s actual student, a significant majority of the participants among the survey respondents were freshmen and sophomores and there were too few junior and senior year participants. Despite the fact that these students are classified by year, there is no way to tell how old some of these students actually are or how long they have been in their class year. Such points are important to determining how their life situation pertains to their behavior and experience with regards to interactive media habits.

3. Time of conducted research When conducting research at an academic institution, the time of the school year is highly relevant. Feedback from freshman participants at the start of the academic year would be irrelevant because most of those relationships are not as fully as established within the school as the sophomore, junior, and senior participants. The freshman relationships may be better reflected upon in assessing how they interact with other students at American University and better grounded by late fall semester or by spring semester.

From her findings, the author concluded that many students use several of interactive media technologies simultaneously to communicate with others, even while situated in the same space.. Among these technologies, email was found to be the most popular and useful as a task-oriented tool while cellular and land line telephones were found to be more useful more for interpersonal interactions. Squires also found that different characteristics of the subjects were either downplayed or highlighted in using different interactive mediums. According to the author, changing technologies must be evaluated and incorporated in the research when pursuing further research into this topic. We live in a time when technology is converging and quickly changing.

As a possible research topic, Squires and her peers on this subject ought to explore how some interactive media are created to target [or appeal to] young people or what other uses these technologies serve outside of or beyond their personal relationships. I may opt to research the latter in terms of how they utilized in building and maintaining professional or romantic relationships.

Thursday, September 16, 2004


Time Stamp!

What is up with the time stamp?


My first entry

THis is my first posting for the 512 Mediated Communication Course. I am a big fan of Outkast's most recent album. I also work at Targum Publishing Company which publishes The Daily Targum.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?