Notes on Defining of Computer-Mediated Communication, by John December
CMC Involves Communication Via Computers
Since the word computer is the first word of "CMC," it would seem important to know exactly what we are talking about when we say a particular communication act is computer-mediated.
But the significance of this definition would depend on the particular research study design. For example, does human voice communication via telephone party lines resemble, in semantic structure, Internet Relay Chat (IRC) communication? It is irrelevant that the data flow for the IRC communication may flow over the very same phone lines over which the voice communication may flow. So while in terms of data flow, IRC and voice communication are technically similar, this says nothing about the semantics and structure of the content communicated. Picasso and Monet might have painted with the same colors, but the resulting paintings may be very different. A definition itself doesn't prove a theory or a change the relationship of what is under study.
Therefore, I don't see that CMC researchers need get too wrapped up in splitting hairs about what is CMC and what isn't. CMC in the broadest sense involves a wide range of telecommunications activities as well as non-networked transfer of information such as via computer diskettes. CMC however, shouldn't be taken as a catch-all category under which anything mediated by technology falls. The scoreboard at a baseball game? There's circuitry inside, and a keyboard on which the operator totals up the runs, but what would be the significance of calling this CMC? Is a baseball scoreboard CMC? Sure, but so what?