Phatic Communication, or why the little things in social media really matter

I’m very pleased to say that my paper for The World Wide Web 2012 #WWW12 conference got accepted. It is on the phatic aspects of communication in an online sphere. Phatic communication expressions – a concept developed by the anthropologyst Malinowski and expanded on by the linguist Jakobson – denote brief, non dialogue and non-informational discussion or communication exchanges that can also be in the form of different types of signals. However, in the paper I am arguing that the stuff you think is pointless and does not have a practical information value – your posts on Facebook and Twitter, the likes, the pokes and the tweets about food, weather, the mundane brief status updates – all turn out to have a vital role and social value  that even merits a new phrase – “phatic-posts”  – which the paper coins. These phatic posts deliver values of staying up-to-date with a micro and macro world of events and news, flirting, chat and public expressions of everyday life and emotions among the participants. The paper explains multiple effects of phatic posts: social, validation, conflict-avoidance, and others. I won’t reveal everything now.

The paper will be published in the ACM SIG proceedings, and if you are curious this Wordle has a summary of

the key words of the paper. I will be presenting this April at WWW12 in Lyon (thanks to DejanSEO who are covering my travel). Check out the program for the conference, which includes a number of interesting events, keynotes, workshops, and discusssions. If you’re going to WWW12 please ping me as I would like to meet other researchers and authors (probably there will be 1500-2000 people and is hard to meet everyone and run from one track to the other) and it would be nice to meet up with other like-minded internet researchers, practitioners, academics, and business folks. [note: check updates on the #WWW12 conference and paper presentation]