AbstractAt the same time as Harvey Sacks was developing conversation analysis (CA), at the same institution a young graduate student attempted to type the word “login” into a computer; this message would then be sent to another computer in a different lab. Unfortunately the system crashed after the letters ‘L’ and ‘O’ were sent, and so the first word to be sent via the internet (or at least the pre-cursor to it) was ‘LO’ or perhaps, if we want to read it as such, ‘hello’. The fact that the first message sent via the ‘internet’ was, somewhat accidentally, a standard greeting is a foreshadowing of the fact that the internet has become a predominantly interactional medium. Online communication has grown exponentially since that first message. There are currently an estimated 269 billion e-mails, 55 billion Whatsapp messages, over 9.5 billion Instagram photos and videos, and around 500 million tweets sent per day. Online interaction is a worldwide phenomenon, with users of Chinese social media site, Weibo, sending over 100 million messages each day and about 38 billion messages sent every day on WeChat, the Chinese instant messaging service. As conversation analysts are interested in interaction as the primordial site of sociality, the internet is an enormous and ever-growing site of interaction, and as such should be a clear focus for exploring social life. This review provides an overview of what we already know from studies of CA and online interaction. It will argue that going forward there should be more impetus to explore this area of interaction, not only in its own right but also for what it tells us about human interaction more generally. This paper will show how CA can offer real insight into the organization of online interaction, particularly in relation to the potential affordances and constraints of the interaction.
CitationMeredith, J. (2019) Conversation analysis and online interaction, Research on Language and Social Interaction, 52(3). DOI: 10.1080/08351813.2019.1631040
PublisherTaylor & Francis
JournalResearch on Language and Social Interaction
Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/