1.2.many: personal connections in the digital age (introduction)

Just a quick note: I’ve changed the name of this blog. The former name, “Maintaining Healthy Relationships,” wasn’t bad–I do care about relational health. But upon reflection, that doesn’t quite capture the core of my research.

Since graduate school, my one-sentence description of my scholarly identity has been this: I am social scientist who researches how people maintain relationships using communication technology.

Thus, I work at the intersection of interpersonal and mass communication–two traditionally separate areas of communication research that we now, of technological and social necessity, must wed together.

The first part of the new blog name, “1.2.many,” captures that union. In traditional mass communication research, “one-to-many” has referred to communication technologies that broadcast from one source to many recipients. Radio or cable TV are classic examples. I’ve twisted this phrase by changing the “to” to a “2”–the number of people communicating in classic definitions of interpersonal communication.

Thus, “1.2.many” represents how we communicate via technology–often physically alone (1), maintaining specific dyadic (i.e., 2-person) relationships, yet often to and with a broader social network (many). Taken alone, this could capture many communication goals, such as word-of-mouth marketing. But I’m interested in how we maintain relationships–hence the tagline “personal connections in the digital age.”

Oh, there’s a new visual theme too.

But some of you might be asking, “will he write more frequently??” My honest answer is that I hope to. Yes, you sense a “but”–and the “but” is that I have other writing commitments to keep, and for better or worse, academia does not yet place much value in the blog as a scholarly outlet! Now that’s a subject worthy of a blog post itself… perhaps someday.

If you’re interested in my work that has been published this year, there’s this article in Communication Quarterly about how romantic partners’ attitudes toward technology are associated with their technology use. In an article in Journal of Family CommunicationStephenson Beck (NDSU) and I address two competing models of family communication and relational maintenance. And with TCU colleague Amber Finnan article in Communication Education finds that college students actually do want their teachers to regulate students’ social use of technology–and perhaps especially cell phones. There’s also the new edition of A First Look at Communication Theory, but I’ve already blogged about that.

So, until next time… meanwhile, you can keep up with me in smaller tidbits on Twitter @dr_ledbetter.

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