Comparing Face-to-Face & Computer-Mediated Communication

Comparing Face-to-Face & Computer-Mediated Communication
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  • 0:01 Computer or Person
  • 0:56 When Computers Are Best
  • 2:40 When Face-to-Face Is Best
  • 3:53 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kevin Newton

Kevin has edited encyclopedias, taught middle and high school history, and has a master's degree in Islamic law.

Right now you're looking at these lessons from some form of computer. I could be thousands of miles away from you. This lesson explains how that sort of communication is possible and why it is not always best.

Computer or Person

A few decades ago, if you wanted to communicate with someone you had limited options. Of course, the most straightforward way was just to talk to them face to face, but that could prove impossible if they were far away. In that case, you could either make a phone call, write a letter, send a messenger, or go to meet them yourself. In the past fifty years, all that has changed.

Now it is possible to work from home without ever stepping foot into the office, maintain meaningful relationships from around the world, and communicate with someone sitting across the room from you without saying a word or getting within 20 feet of each other. This is because of computer-mediated communication, the name given to any sort of communication that takes place with the assistance of a computer. In this lesson, we will look at times when computer-mediated communication is better, as well as times when face to face is still the way to go. So which do you choose? Let's take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of each.

When Computers Are Best

Computer-mediated communication is best when distances are vast. Imagine having to collaborate with a team on a project. Now imagine that one person is based in Tokyo, another in Dubai, and a third in London. Do you really want to wait on messengers or mail to make it around? Or better yet, do you really want to have to pay for the plane tickets and hotel rooms necessary for all of you to meet? Probably not.

To that end, computer-based communication also works really well when there can't be perfect matchups of schedules. For all you know, I wrote this lesson at 3 a.m. Or maybe even at noon. Either way, it may not be the most convenient time for you. However, with computer-mediated communication, it doesn't matter when I wrote this lesson because our schedules do not have to match for you to make use of the information here.

Also, let's look at some other reasons that computer-mediated communication is best. I am writing this lesson in hopes that you will actually learn something from it. If it wasn't so easy to just watch this lesson online, how would you get the information from me? You'd have to fly or drive to wherever I am at, sit me down, and get this information out of me for however long it ended up taking. If you didn't get something, you couldn't just press pause and rewind, but instead you'd have to ask me to stop and repeat myself.

Now, I'm a nice enough person, but the thought of having to repeat the same thing over and over again, day in and day out for weeks at a time whenever you want to get an update is a little insane. I may finally get fed up and decide that I don't want to do it anymore. However, with computer-mediated communication, the lesson is up there forever, meaning that you can always come back to it.

When Face-to-Face Is Best

Still, that does not mean that computer-mediated communication is always superior. When delivering deeply emotional news, whether good or bad, it's often nice to have someone within arms' reach to help celebrate or comfort.

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