Social Affordances: Understanding Technology Mediated Social Networks at Work

AbstractComputer-mediated communication (CMC) technology includes messaging systems, such as e-mail, and conferencing technologies designed to facilitate group work. Technology researchers argue that CMC adoption fails when it interferes with subtle and complex social dynamics of groups. Yet, empirical studies of CMC use which explicitly associate social behavior with design features are largely absent from the literature. Also absent are conceptual tools for detecting and describing such behavior. This research addresses these absences by closely examining how CMC design supports social interaction among distributed work groups and thus, stimulates or suppresses adoption. Contributions of this work are a principled understanding of sociotechnical issues surrounding CMC use and recommendations for design.

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