Further, this review considers, when appropriate, studies of computing and information systems in general because the boundaries between computing, information systems and computer-mediated communication systems are inherently ambiguous, and, as systems and applications become more integrated, more so. For example, a computer bulletin board my be considered and used as a database information system, involving a variety of storage, retrieval and display aspects, as users ‘post’ information for others to refer to when desired. However, it may also be considered and used as a computer conferencing system where users engage in on-going, multiple-topic conversations, representing a lively social forum.
Throughout, by ‘research contexts’, I mean the meta-theoretic assumptions, models, frameworks and proposition sets, processes and phases, levels of analysis, system characteristics, contingency models, methodological and evaluation criteria or prior sets of empirical results that have emerged from prior CMC research, and that may suggest contexts for designing, conducting and interpreting future research. The section headed ‘An example: diffusion and adoption of CMC systems’ provides a brief illustration of how these research contexts might be used in studies of CMC diffusion.