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Always OnLanguage in an Online and Mobile World$
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Naomi S. Baron

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195313055

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195313055.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 22 January 2022

Controlling the Volume

Controlling the Volume

Everyone a Language Czar

(p.31) 3 Controlling the Volume
Always On


Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses how language technology is used to control the volume of interpersonal communication. It examines a range of language technologies that have increasingly empowered individuals to call the shots on social interaction. The more conceptual discussion is illustrated with data from a study undertaken in fall 2004 and spring 2005 of multitasking behavior by college students while using instant messaging. The study reveals how deft the current generation of multitaskers is at meshing online conversations with other activities. In electronically-mediated communication, users turn up the “volume” when they incessantly check their email. Along with the volume-control metaphor, another useful concept is affordances, the physical properties of objects that enable us to use them in particular ways. This chapter also looks at discourse control in traditional face-to-face and written-communication settings, and then at the affordances new language technologies add for adjusting the conversational “volume”. The cognitive and social aspects of multitasking, specifically with respect to instant messaging and mobile phones, are also discussed.

Keywords:   language technologies, multitasking, electronically-mediated communication, email, affordances, mobile phones, college students, interpersonal communication, social interaction

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