Speak *now* or forever hold your peace: power law chronemics of turn-taking and response in asynchronous CMC

Daphne Raban, Sheizaf Rafaeli, Yoram M. Kalman, Gilad Ravid

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


Turn-taking is a key characteristic of conversation, and is well studied in diversecontexts. How do insights about chronemics in face-to-face communication transfer tothe online context? The research reported here looks into turn-taking in asynchronouscomputer mediated communication by analyzing three diverse datasets comprising a totalof more than 150,000 responses: email responses created by corporate employees in workcontexts, responses created by university students participating in course discussiongroups, and responses to questions posted in a public, commercial information seekingvirtual forum. The response times revealed in each of the datasets yielded a power-lawdistribution. Moreover, most of the responses (at least 70%) were created within theaverage response time of the responders, and very few (at most 4%) of the responseswere created after a period longer than ten times the average response time. Thesegeneralized findingspersistacross various users, contexts, and even across traditional aswell as online communication media. Asynchronous CMC seems more synchronous thanis implied by its reputation. email implies a widespread expectation of fairly rapidresponse. The implications of this uniformity are discussed, as well as some possibleapplications of the findings to the improvement of computer mediated communicationand to the research of online silence.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication56th Annual Conference of the International Communication Association
Place of PublicationDresden, Germany, ICA
Number of pages23
StatePublished - 2006


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