Time in Media:
computer synchronization of
interpersonal communication

Davis Foulger
Oswego State University

April 17, 2002

There are a wide variety of media:

Interactive internet media can warp
and in some cases obliterate time linearity

Considering time as an issue in communication is hardly new:

Every medium has structural characteristics
that effect the structure of messages
and even our choice of language.

  • The medium may not be the message ...
    • ... but it is certainly embedded in the structure of the message
  • We invent our media in five distinct spheres of invention:
    • Mediators
      • combined in a particular way
      • have characteristics
    • Characteristics enable uses
    • but use inevitably creates problems
    • that are resolved in practices like
      • "identification/recognition"
      • handles
      • from fields
  • The success of any medium
    • entails activity in all spheres

Today we will be manipulating time (or at least its perception)

Computer Decision Making and Intelligent Agents

There are many ways to apply agents to Interactive Communication

Little of this kind of function has entered mainstream products

So what can we do:

Some observables in the relationship of time to pre-Internet media

Some observables in the relationship of time to computer media

Ways of Bending Time in Media

Time Relationship

Pre-Internet Media

Internet Media


Correspondence, Newspapers

On-line Databases, Listservs, Newsgroups


Drama, Shopping Lists

Agent relinearized Listservs and Newsgroups



Chat, Instant Messenger



E-Mail, Computer Conferencings, Autothreaded Messaging, Voice into Text Concurrent Interaction



Web Sites, Task-Oriented UI



Wiki Collaborative Composition, Structured Conferencing


Face to Face Interaction and Telephone

Shared Whiteboards, Shared Desktops, Internet Telephone and Videophone


Letters, Art, Recorded Music, Film, Books

E-Mail, Computer Conferencing



Instant Messenger, Asynchronous Telephone



Supersynchronous Interaction, Synchronous Media Use Ecologies

Serial Creation

Television, Music, Theatre, and Film



Reference Books, Text Books

On-Line Databases, E-Mail, Computer Conferencing

Reference Pointers

Bird Books

E-Mail, Computer Conferencing, Hypermedia Documents, Relational Databases

Autothreaded Messaging

Voice into Text Concurrent Interaction

Asynchronous Telephone

Structured Conferencing

Supersynchronous Interaction

Task-oriented UIs

A Note on Synchronous Media Use Ecologies

The Process of Media Invention and Evolution