[Air-l] origin/meaning of CMC

Barry Wellman wellman at chass.utoronto.ca
Wed Feb 6 18:11:07 PST 2002

Joao Vieira da Cunha enquired Feb 5 about the term "computer mediated

My guess is that there are multiple origins of the term.

I coined the term in the mid 1970s in EIES computerized conferencing
[that's a term that didn't stick] that led, among other things, to Roxanne
Hiltz's and Murray Turoff's first ed. of The Network Nation. Peter &
Trudy Johnson-Lenz were active discussants too, I recall.

We played with a lot of terms but liked mediated because the computer
network intermediary did more than just Assist or Support Communication
(we considered CAC and CSC also), but had a mediating role in affecting
how communication took place. On the other hand, whatever Marshall
thought, the medium is not the dominating message, and technological
determinism has rarely been shown to be operating.

Hence I've come to like Erin Bradner's "social affordances" discussion of
the impact of CMC. Opportunities and constraints, but not determinants



  Barry Wellman        Professor of Sociology       NetLab Director
  wellman at chass.utoronto.ca   http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~wellman

  Centre for Urban & Community Studies        University of Toronto
  455 Spadina Avenue   Toronto Canada M5S 2G8   fax:+1-416-978-7162

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