A45. Rice, R.E. & Danowski, J. (1993). Is it really just like a fancy answering machine? Comparing semantic networks of different types of voice mail users. Journal of Business Communication, 30(4), 369-397.


We propose a conceptual as well as practical distinction, possible in voice mail systems, between the traditional telephone genre of voice answering and a new genre of telephone communication of voice messaging. This distinction should be reflected in comments provided by respondents who report that they use voice mail more for messaging than for answering, and by those who send more voice messages than do others. Semantic network analysis identified different clusters of concepts found in responses to open-ended questions on a survey completed by these kinds of user. For example, all users had common word clusters concerning the ability to overcome temporal constraints and leave messages through voice mail. However, responses of "senders" and "messagers" included word clusters such as "group distribution" and greater concern with issues such as critical mass and problems of traditional telephone usage (such as busy signals), while responses of low senders and answerers included clusters indicating concern about the impersonal nature of voice mail. We discuss implications both for this method of analysis as well as for implementation and management of voice mail systems.

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