Interaction and Outeraction: Instant Messaging in Action

Bonnie Nardi, Steven Whittaker, Erin Bradner

ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work


We discuss findings from an ethnographic study of instant messaging (IM) in the workplace and its implications for media theory. We describe how instant messaging supports a variety of informal communication tasks. We document the affordances of IM that support flexible, expressive communication. We describe some unexpected uses of IM that highlight aspects of communication which are not part of current media theorizing. They pertain to communicative processes people use to connect with each other and to manage communication, rather than to information exchange. We call these processes "outeraction". We discuss how outeractional aspects of communication affect media choice and patterns of media use.


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