Topic 3 Electronic communication
Electronic communications are increasingly important and varied. Mailing lists and newsgroups are well established as a way of disseminating information amongst common interest groups. They allow you to contribute at your own pace and can be a very useful and convenient way of sharing information. They enable you to follow rapidly moving discussions and provide a means for interaction about new developments in any field.
Web pages allow both formal and informal groups and individuals to disseminate information electronically. As more user-friendly and WYSIWYG software is available they are becoming easier for individuals to create. Blogs are also tools for publishing material on the web which most often appeal to individuals who either want put across a particular point of view or who want a space where they can reflect on an issue, or issues, over time. Wikis allow groups to collaborate in developing materials online.
‘Synchronous’ (simultaneous) communication, such as chat rooms and ‘messenger’ services, are more spontaneous as they permit users to interact in ‘real’ time using either text or voice and video exchanges. In their academic context, chat rooms are rather like online seminars.
If you want to use information that you may find on websites, and via web tools, in your work you will need to pay attention to the evaluation issues that we discussed in Section Five.