About WISR

WISR is a research group concerned with studying how people interact in written form, in media such as email, blogs, microblogs (Twitter), and discussion forums.  People have interacted in written form for a long time (letter writing), but until recently the vast amount of writing most people encountered regularly was monologic in nature: someone wrote, other people read but did not respond directly to the writer.  Examples include novels, newspaper articles, or political campaign brochures.  This has changed with the advent of electronic means of communication.  Today, people routinely interact in written form many times a day, using email, text messages, chat, Tweets, or interactions on web sites including Facebook and responses to online articles and blogs.

There is much variation in the specifics of written dialog (as there is in spoken dialog), but it typically lacks physical co-presence of the discourse participants, it is asynchronous, and its communicative channel is broader, allowing for multiple communications in parallel.  Written dialog thus is different from the prototypical case of face-to-face spoken conversation. 

In this research group, we are interested in how disocurse participants are using written media to communicate.  We assume that, as in the case of spoken communication, discourse participants may have social relations that pre-exist the dialog, and that they have communicative goals that may include social goals (such as forging new social relations).  We are interested in how social relations and communicative goals interact to shape written dialog.  Specific areas of interest include studying how social relations are expressed in dialog, and how power affects dialog.