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in the “boy talk” group by simply picking up her boyfriend’s phone, she was very aware of a social interaction to which she was not privy. Although “boy talk” was created to “spare” her from the somewhat vulgar exchanges, when the rest of the “boy talk” members found out she saw their messages, they felt it a violation of an assumed confidence.

In the two groups that were largely men, women reported feeling a bit left out, and even self-conscious, thereby limiting their participation: it was “a little weird and restrictive because I wasn’t one of the boys”. On the other hand, subgroups were also used quite positively to reflect naturally occurring friendship groupings within the larger group. For example, three people in the first study group created a “three amigos” group of just three members who attended high school together, so they could talk about “the good old days”.

In terms of the number of groups participants thought they would have if they used a system similar to Slam regularly, most participants reported 3 – 10 groups, which might include family and work groups. Generally, participants assumed their groups would correspond to the different groups that they “hang out” with. More temporary groupings, such as for coordinating rides and sharing pictures from a party or weekend trip were only hesitantly endorsed.

As Entertainment For many people, group-based messaging on their mobile devices was an almost addictive new form of entertainment: “I didn’t want it to die, so I plugged it in at work… I would never SMS at work”. A number of participants noted in their wrap-up sessions that “it was so entertaining”, and that “[they are] going to miss slam”. Others mentioned how exciting it was to have their phones buzzing with new messages all the time, or how much they liked waking up to new Slam messages. The downside seemed to be that, for some, group interactions on a mobile device were socially overwhelming (“I don’t want to be that connected to my friends all the time.”) or too engrossing. One person commented was that “it kept me from interacting with other friends of mine that weren’t in the study” Another said, “Other friends were asking me how come I never SMS anymore”.

Often the consumption of message content took on an entertainment quality. In addition to looking forward to the ongoing stream of glimpses into their friend’s lives, each of the four groups reported instances of watching group members trying to outdo one another for the funniest comments or contributing to a running joke. During the wrap up session members of one group noted that “they never knew [name] was so funny.” Based on these observations and as shown in the message type breakdown (Figure 7), it does appear that the group context serves as a catalyst for ribbing and humorous interactions that was part of the ongoing entertainment stream of group-wide messages. In a similar, but less humor related vein, there were several instances of users “publishing” a travelogue of a day or weekend trip.

4.  Discussion

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