[Air-L] Conservation of Media (formerly "dis-praise")

Barry Wellman wellman at chass.utoronto.ca
Wed Jul 1 06:19:57 PDT 2009

On Wed, 1 Jul 2009, Christopher Lueg wrote:

> The paper that I had in mind references works that say the above but
> presents different findings:
> "Contrary to prior research, we found that the primary use of
> workplace IM was for complex work discussions. Only 28% of conversations
> were simple, single-purpose interactions and only 31% were about
> scheduling or coordination. Moreover, people rarely switched from IM to
> another medium when the conversation got complex."
> from:
> The character, functions, and styles of instant messaging in the workplace
> E Isaacs, A Walendowski, S Whittaker, DJ Schiano, C Kamm
> Proc 2002 ACM conference on Computer supported cooperative work
> http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/587078.587081
BW: Yes, this fits with the work that Anabel Quan-Haase and I did some
years ago. Longest version is in Anabel's diss. Published version is:

Anabel Quan-Haase and Barry Wellman. "Hyperconnected Net Work:
Computer-Mediated Community in a High-Tech Organization." Pp. 281-333 in
The Firm as a Collaborative Community: Reconstructing Trust in the
Knowledge Economy, edited by Charles Heckscher and Paul Adler. New York:
Oxford University Press, 2006

which is also available on my website.

We also were aware of the staying with the same medium norm. I
semi-humourously called it "Wellman's Law of the Conservation of Media".
However, when people in the organization thought that things had gotten
too complex for IM, they moved to in-person meetings.

More information about the Air-L mailing list