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

Introduction
-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.

Interdependence
-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.


Heterogeneity
-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.



Conclusion
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.


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