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14 March 2021
Understanding Each Other when Communicating in Emerging Technology Mediated Environments
Classic definitions of communication focus on the process of exchange of information — instrumental and expressive — and with the goal of mutual understanding of the content among the participants. The structure and format of in-person communication is a particular instantiation of engagement for which we have accumulated a wealth of research within the field. As we move to remote and technology-mediated communication and then to human-machine communication new opportunities and constraints have arisen — particularly if we return to the notion that understanding emerges through communicative interactions.
With new forms of technology, how understanding is acquired, developed, built together and shared is as much a question of how the technological systems are designed, as it is of how they are deployed and used (Collins et al., 2000). Technology that "extend" reality, including but not limited to virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (XR) effectively change the settings in which communication occurs — affording new modes of interactions with the environments themselves or amongst peers, for example, through space or embodied gestures to facilitate the understanding of complex concepts (Jang et al., 2017). Social robots, voice-activated assistants and similar technologies change communicative settings by serving as partners in communication. For example, social robots integrate vision, speech, touch and other modalities for communication in order to meaningfully relate to people (Broadbent, 2017).
In this issue we are showcasing papers, studies, and projects that examine the ways in which mediated communication affects how understanding is achieved when challenged by spatial and modal dimensions in the practice of communication. From learning in virtual environments within AR and VR extended realities, to communication vernaculars that are emerging between humans and machines such as social robots, we seek submissions that shed light on what understanding means when humans are communicating within technologically mediated environments and/or when humans are communicating with machines.
Broad areas may include but are not limited to:
- Broad areas may include but are not limited to:
- Changing definitions of “understanding” when communication takes place in new modes and between humans and machines
- The ways in which technologies are extending the realities of communication and understanding
- Designing extended reality technologies for mediating collaborative meaning-making
- New possibilities that multiple modalities of interaction create for collaboration and learning
- Tensions that arise when misunderstandings (intentional or unintentional) occur in mediated communication
- Emerging language structures, vernaculars, and dialects in mediated communication
Themes of focus can include but should expand on communication and:
- Social robots
- AR/VR/XR environments
- Cognitive informatics
- Power relations
- Design considerations
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