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Web4Groups and the Future of Communication on the Internet

International Conference
21-22 Apr 1997
Vienna, Austria

Keynote Speech

The Matrix of Society and Technology in Computer-Mediated Communication on the Internet

by John December

In this talk, based on my perspective, I outline two major challenges facing developers who create shared workspaces on the Internet and World Wide Web.

The first challenge is the lack an analytical language to adequately express what constitutes computer-mediated communication, information, and interaction on the Web. This reduces the effectiveness of system designs.

The second challenge relates to the plethora of technological possibilities for Web communication. While technology offers a rich set of choices, the dynamic nature and sheer flood of these choices may inhibit human practices of interaction from becoming established.

To address these challenges, we need to develop a more wholistic view of technology and see it within the context of human activity rather than as an end in itself. To create better designs, we must develop a language to describe human communication in online environments not just in terms of technological relationships, but in terms of activity and social contexts. To foster human communication, we must opt for systems which are open, agile, and lucid. By addressing these challenges, we can build an online world that recognizes the matrix of of society and technology and is more effective for human communication and collaboration.

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