Er nettsamtaler samtaler? En kommunikasjonsteoretisk drøfting av fenomenet chat

Hildegunn Otnes


This article, based on a lecture held in connection with the author’s dissertation in June 2007, employs a communicative perspective on “chatting”, and discusses if and to what extent chatting on the web can be considered as conversation. The author carries out a conceptual discussion based on different definitions of the term “conversation” as well as on examples from the author’s dissertation. The article is divided into three parts: 1) a presentation of different communication tools; 2) a discussion of the concept of “conversation”; and 3) an evaluation of the term “conversation”. The concept of chatting is discussed from four perspectives: the modality perspective (written – oral); the cooperation perspective; the synchronistic perspective (synchrony – asynchrony); and the sequentiality perspective. A main conclusion is that the modality is not as central in the categorization of conversations as one may assume. It is the functions that decide. The chatting technology shows interesting potential as a conversation tool, and its utility depends on the users’ competence, the users’ aims, and the context of the communication.


chat; conversation; instant messaging; literacy; orality

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