This is a definition of computer-mediated communication that I've been using for several years; it is not meant to be the definition; I've used this as a working statement to explore the dimensions of what computer-mediated communication is and how to approach its study. Since I do research on Internet-based CMC, this definition is oriented to that context; but I don't mean to imply here that all CMC is Internet-based.
I believe that process and context are key themes in the study of computer-mediated communication.
Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC) is the process by which people create, exchange, and perceive information using networked telecommunications systems (or non-networked computers) that facilitate encoding, transmitting, and decoding messages. Studies of CMC can view this process from a variety of interdisciplinary theoretical perspectives by focusing on some combination of people, technology, processes, or effects. Some of these perspectives include the social, cognitive/psychological, linguistic, cultural, technical, or political aspects; and/or draw on fields such as human communication, rhetoric and composition, media studies, human-computer interaction, journalism, telecommunications, computer science, technical communication, or information studies.
- Defining Internet-based computer-mediated communication
- December, J. (1996). Units of analysis for Internet communication. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 1(4) / Journal of Communication, 46(1). http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol1/issue4/december.html
- An exploratory essay raising issues of CMC's definition:
- December, J. (1997). Notes on defining of computer-mediated communication. Computer-Mediated Communication Magazine, (3):1. http://www.december.com/cmc/mag/1997/jan/december.html
- Special issue of Computer-Mediated Communication Magazine on What is CMC?:
- (1997). Computer-Mediated Communication Magazine, 3(1). http://www.december.com/cmc/mag/1997/jan/toc.html
- A Web-based study resource:
- The CMC Studies Center