Cognitive mapping of various means of communication in 1996

In The social representation of telecommunications, Leopoldina Fortunati and Anna Maria Manganelli explore "common knowledge of telecommunications". In a sense, they try to reconstruct how technologies of information and communication "have been metabolised in the system of social thought, and the way in which they have been integrated conceptually. Using Moscovici's frame of reference (social representations), they analyze data gathered from telephone survey carried out in 1996. Interviewees were asked to freely associate two terms with certain cue words: ‘telecommunications’, ‘fax’, ‘television’, ‘telephone’, ‘computer’, ‘mobile phone’, ‘radio’, ‘video-recorder’, ‘stereo’ and ‘newspapers’. Cluster analysis allowed them to represent the similarities between the communicative technologies (represented by the cue-words) through a dendrogram of similarities:

The authors conclude that:

"In conclusion, the analysis of the similarity between means of communication shows that in 1996 there already existed a scission between the real telecommunication technologies, that is, ‘fax, telephone, mobile phone and computer’, and technologies which were not telecommunication, such as mass media or means of reproduction of sounds and images. The first were based on technologies that carried circular communication, the second on uni-directional communication technologies. Furthermore, in the first cluster (not telecommunication), we must note the clear distinction between technologies that reproduce sounds and images and those that carry information. The position of the ‘radio’, assimilated as it was to ‘stereo’, was yet a further indication that this medium was experienced essentially as music.

From this first analysis what emerged is that the profiles of the different forms of telecommunication and the division and cooperation among them were reflected with clarity and precision in common knowledge."

Why do I blog this? I was looking for reference about representation of technologies an ran across this paper; found the methodology quite intriguing (there are lots of other results to check). What I found pertinent is the idea of having a a detailed description of the cognitive integration of the various means of communication. How would that be perceived now? with new forms of communication? with so-called "digital natives"?

Fortunati, L. & Manganelli, A.M. (2007).The social representation of telecommunications. Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, pp. 1617-4909.