work, and social places. Because the messages were intertwined with other aspects of communication, the glimpses into people’s places often pertained to the everyday, but personal places such as the person’s desk at work or the home computer of the person who sent around the picture of the shoes on eBay. In other words, because the types of messages were so varied and because messages were sent at many times and from and about many places, a substantial amount of social presence was conveyed.
There were a few points worth noting regarding the message types. First, the increase in microcoordination messages in the group condition, while still a small percentage of the total, suggests that group-based messaging might support social coordination in cases where one-to-one messaging falls short simply by being too cumbersome or slow to use at the last minute. Whether the increase in microcoordination messages resulted from greater social awareness and therefore inclusion as proposed earlier is difficult to assess, but it was reflected in the reported greater ease of planning face-to-face meetings afforded by group-based messaging. Although this planning was easier, groups did not report an increase in the actual number of face-to-face encounters. This implies that this social technology does not, or rarely, facilitates serendipitous face-to-face interactions, as these are largely dictated by other means, and instead facilitates the communication involved in coordinating these encounters. Second, that groups engaged in intimate exchanges was somewhat surprising, although the relative percentage of intimate exchanges was somewhat smaller as expected in the group messaging condition. The extent to which this would take place amongst groups likely depends on the makeup of the group. Indeed, the two groups consisting largely of men sent only a couple of intimate messages, whereas the more gender-balanced first group sent almost 20. Families, and other groups that share the precursors to intimacy (Vetere et al. 2005), such as trust and commitment, might engage in more intimate group-wide messaging. While intimate messages were shared with a group, the round table discussions revealed that the act of sharing alone is often enough to heighten connectedness. More than one group remarked that just getting small glimpses into the “little things” in their friend’s day to day lives that they would not otherwise have seen was meaningful. This type of mundane sharing helps establish or build on existing common ground, and is facilitated by group-wide messaging in that recipients are receiving messages that might otherwise have been sent only to someone else.
That this technology supports physical world social groups impacted how the communication medium was employed. Group and subgroup memberships were fairly discoverable in regular face-to-face contact, and membership and privacy violations appeared to be taken quite personally. This highlights the need for further thinking on membership privacy issues. Important differences from other online group interaction spaces are that mobile device-based groups such as these are small, making lack of participation noticeable, and the members of the group all know one another in their physical world social lives,