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date: 20 January 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The advancements in information and communication technologies in the past few decades, as represented by ubiquitous computing, social media, and artificial intelligence, have made it possible for people to connect with each other and with technologies anytime and everywhere. These developments challenge the traditional distinctions between online and offline groups, raise questions about the relations between people and technology, and provide opportunities to study emergent dynamics of social interaction in groups. Building on the multidimensional network perspective, this chapter conceptualizes online groups as multidimensional networks (a) composed of both human members and non-human artifacts and agents; (b) characterized by multiplex relationships among their components; and (c) embedded in social environments. This conceptualization places technology as an intrinsic component of online groups, and highlights the existence of multiple types of relationships among group members. It also stresses embedding contexts as a defining feature of online groups, and calls for more research attention on the interdependence between online groups and their environments.

Keywords: Online groups, social networks, human-computer interaction, embeddedness, sociomateriality, interdependence

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