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Two major components of social interaction have been receiving increasing attention by researchers. The first is new communication media and the second is social networks. The research reported here combines these interests by describing and modeling the changes in the communication network of ten groups using a computer conferencing system over a two-year period. This combined focus is natural in that communication technologies facilitate human interaction by helping to develop and maintain human communication networks, while the analysis of networks can begin to identify patterns of use and social structure in new situations, such as new communication systems.

Two aspects of new media are emphasized here: (a) the potential for changes in traditional communication patterns among groups due to attributes of these communication systems and (b) the availability of behavioral communication data collected by the medium's computer system. Two aspects of network analysis are emphasized here as well: (a) longitudinal analysis and modeling and (b) the application of metric multidimensional scaling as one appropriate network methodology.


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