Axel Bruns on 23 Aug 2000 14:14:16 -0000

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<nettime> M/C 'chat' issue now available


   The Media and Cultural Studies Centre at the University of Queensland
    is proud to present issue four in volume three of the award-winning

                   M/C - A Journal of Media and Culture


         'chat' - Issue Editors: Felicity Meakins & E. Sean Rintel

This issue of M/C explores the notion of 'chat', examining its contexts,
forms, functions and operations. 'Chat' appears to be a descriptive subset
of 'talk', often characterised somewhat unfairly as idle or frivolous
'small talk', 'gossip' -- the kind of tte--tte that is mediated through
cups of tea (alluded to in Jen Henzell's cover image). However, 'chat' is
not only an extremely prevalent activity, but, as Trollope implies, a
primary social activity. Serious academic regard for 'chat' can be traced
to Malinowski's coining of the term "phatic communion" to refer to talk
that expresses the "ties of union", a notion later taken up by Laver. 
Watzlawick, Beavin and Jackson made a similar distinction between the
content level of communication (contains assumptions that are
communicable)  and the relationship level (which reveals the speaker's
attitude to the assumptions communicated and the speaker's relationship
with and opinion of the hearer). 'Chat', they argue, is more about
building and solidifying relationships between interactants than imparting
information. Even gossip, probably the most content driven form of 'chat',
lets hearers know that they are regarded well enough by the speakers to be
drawn into confidence. 

We have divided the M/C 'chat' issue into two sections along the lines of
context. The first section deals with what might be termed 'traditional'
or 'more general' forms of chat, where the interactants are either
physically (face-to-face) or acoustically (telephone) copresent. Given
both the period and the medium in which M/C 'chat' is being published, it
should not be surprising that the second section deals with
computer-mediated communication (CMC). With the advent of CMC, 'chat' --
and research on it -- has been transformed, taking with it much of the old
formula and leaving behind some of its trappings. 

These are the articles you can find in M/C's 'chat' issue: 

  "Two Rhetorical Uses of the Description 'Chat'"  Charles Antaki explores
the paradoxical manner in which the description of a discursive event as
'chat' may be used to socially persuasive ends. 

  "Still on Holidays Hank? - 'Doing Business' by 'Having a Chat'"  Alec
McHoul and Mark Rapley see strategy not only in description but in the
strategic nesting of 'chat' within another discursive situation.  In an
analysis of a computer helpline call, a switch to an informal 'chat' mode
is seen to be useful to the successful conclusion of a formal business

  "Chatting in the Neighbourhood - Does It Have a Place in the World of
Globalised Media?"  Mark Frankland's article is a broad diachronic and
synchronic overview of the place local media such as 'chat' and community
newspapers fit into in an evolving and increasingly global media-scape. 

  "Invitation or Sexual Harassment? An Analysis of an Intercultural
Communication Breakdown"  Zhu Yunxia and Peter Thompson examine
intercultural potentials for miscommunication within a series of three
telephone invitations to a party, from a male Chinese tutor to a female
Australian student, which resulted in an accusation of sexual harassment. 

  "The Naturally-Occurring Chat Machine"  Darren Reed and Malcolm Ashmore
perform an interesting methodological reflection on the nature of the data
collection and the transcription processes of Conversation Analysis. 

Special CMC Section: 

  "Computer-Mediated Chat: Ways of Finding Chat Partners"  Paul ten Have
begins the CMC section with an introduction to some of the fundamental
features and concerns of CMC research in his ethnographic investigation of
how to find someone to talk to in a chat room. 

  "E-Mail and the Problems of Communication"  Derek Wallace observes a
growing belief that electronic chat is not the more restricted form of
communication, as first suggested, but a different form which is
potentially useful in supplementing face-to-face interaction within

  "Neither Male nor Female: Other - Gendered Chat in Little Italy" 
Miranda Mowbray investigates Little Italy's gender presentation options
and considers why other-gendered participants are more likely to remain in
the one space than those who chose 'female' or 'male'. 

  "Familiars in a Strange Land: A Case Study of Friends Chatting Online" 
Cynthia Campbell and Scott Wickman observe that most IRC work has
concentrated on chat between strangers. They choose instead to concentrate
on computer-mediated chat between acquaintances. 

  "Swedish Chat Rooms"  Ylva Hrd af Segerstad discusses the result of
questionnaire data and logged conversations to determine if written online
Swedish is being adapted in ways particular to it, or if the Swedish
written language is being developed in analogy, with adaptations
observable in international chat rooms. 

  "Chatting to Learn and Learning to Chat in Collaborative Virtual
Environments"  Teresa Cerratto and Yvonne Wrn discuss the importance of
conversation to educational contexts and the communication problems
inherent in using an electronic medium as an educational tool. 

  "Statistics of Major IRC Networks: Methods and Summary of User Count" 
Kajetan Hinner has created a system capable of capturing usage statistics
for all the major IRC networks, making this system available on his
Website. His article details the processes involved in creating the Socip
statistical program and sample graphs of the kinds of information that his
system can provide. 

Downloadable Article:

  "Dialogue on Film and Philosophy"
Ulf Wilhelmsson's article is a Socratic dialogue about film in which
Quentin Tarantino moderates a discussion involving numerous influential
philosophers, film-makers, film-scholars and the odd Beatle (John Lennon).

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And in other news, recently published M/C Reviews articles include:

"Subverse: 2000 Queensland Poetry Festival"
  by Carolyn Hughes

"Review of 'Alternative Australia: Celebrating Cultural Diversity'"
  by Susan Luckman

"Leisure Works Best: 'Sharing the Work, Saving the Planet'"
  by Guy Redden

"Skin Deep: Kooemba Jdarra Indigenous Performing Arts"
  by Melissa Western

"Rock'n'Roll Circus Discovers Exquisite Danger"
  by Christopher Totten

           These -- and more -- are available in M/C Reviews at

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About the Australian Public Intellectual Network:

The API Network links Australian Public Intellectuals across the nation. It
is dedicated to public intellectual debate in Australia and incorporates
online resources with serial and book publications, journals and
supplements. See the Website at <>.

M/C issue four, vol. three is now online: <>.
Previous issues of M/C on various topics are also still available online.
M/C Reviews is now available at <>.
All M/C contributors are available for media contacts:


                                                     Axel Bruns

 M/C - A Journal of Media and Culture     
 The University of Queensland   

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