Editors' Note

We are pleased to introduce the Fall 2006 issue of Techniques, written and produced by the students in English 477/577: Technical Documentation, Policies and Procedures. It is our hope that you, our reader, find it stimulating and informative, and use it as a springboard for further consideration and research.

In this issue we examine various aspects of computer mediated communication (CMC), particularly its use for social interaction in different contexts. The rapid development and spread of Web 2.0 in general, and particularly, the explosion of online social networking, embodied by FaceBook and Myspace, have caught many off guard. How are these CMC tools changing the way we socialize? Work? Learn? These are some of the questions scholars are just beginning to tackle today given the novelty of these CMC technologies. These are also the questions our contributors explore in their articles.

Articles are grouped into four sections, each focusing on a separate set of issues and audiences. In the first section titled CMC and Social Networks: Past, Present, Future the contributing authors take a careful look at the history, current state of affairs, and possible future developments in online communication. The articles in this section examine the evolution of CMC (Andrews) and its global implications (Rahman); suggest questions for research of the implications of online social networking - a new form of CMC (Komarenko); and examine the possibilities and foreseeable implications of business landscape shifts and changes in major players in the CMC industry (Moore).

The Current Practices and Advice section consists of articles discussing the prevalent practices, as well as suggestions for avoiding hidden dangers of CMC, especially in the popular online social networking. Li describes the use of paralanguage in modern CMC and its importance for providing context for communication. Gerdes's article reports on the habitual, arguable addictive use of FaceBook, a popular social networking site, among students. Pitts offers ideas on how to avoid negative repercussions of making private aspects of one's life public online; while Johnsen suggests some steps that can be taken to turn your online social networking profiles from risky business into real business by designing them as career advancement tools.

CMC use in the business world is tackled by contributors in the Professional Uses & Issues section. Proulx discusses the equipment and network use monitoring policies that many companies have adopted and their privacy implications. Bichler looks at the use of CMC in the medical field, particularly the issues of the direct doctor-patient communication.

The last section on CMC and Online Social Networks in the Academy examines the current CMC attitudes, issues, and practices in the context of higher education. Hooper discusses the implications of the explosion of social networking for composition instruction. Heuer's article discusses the perceived benefits and drawbacks of online courses as experienced at Minnesota State University, Mankato.

Editors

  • Matt Bichler
  • Catherine Hooper
  • Oleksandr Komarenko
  • Cynthia Li
  • Deeba Rahman