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We can provide ...

We can provide quite an adequate analysis of e-mail by approaching it from the point of view of its similarity to primary orality. However, radical changes have occurred with the extensive spread of WWW. In order to examine these changes it is expedient to use a kind of continuum-approach to interactivity. It is not enough to take into consideration whether the communication is two-way or not; we can also speak about a level of lower or higher interactivity. Two-way communication can be more or less well-balanced and symmetrical. WWW is situated between face to face interaction and e-mail on the one hand, and the printed book on the other. Although it is true that e-mail can be sent to the creators of the hypertext pages, the majority of users only read these pages, seldom comment on them, and can only rarely influence them.

WWW has brought back the liveliness of face to face interaction, but the character of the context has changed:

With face to face interaction the direct communicational context is constituted by the physical environment. With WWW it is the result of the designers' rational planning. Since such planning consumes time and energy, it is necessary to construct web-pages for encounters as generally conceived as possible. Unless there are considerable editorial resources, the pages cannot often be changed. As a result, interactivity decreases, and the stability of the text is much greater than in the case of e-mail.

Fri Jul 25 22:00:35 MEST 1997