Exploring a Technological Hermeneutic: Understanding the Interpretation of Computer-Mediated Messaging Systems
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Empirical evidence suggests that individuals can hold different interpretations of a technology. In this research, I explore the question of where these different interpretations come from. What influences an individual s interpretation of a technology? And what is the nature of these interpretations? I explore these questions through studies of computer-mediated messaging systems, including instant messaging, photo-enhanced instant messaging, multimedia messaging (cameraphones), and mobile messaging (BlackBerries). In this research, I draw from philosophical hermeneutics, a domain of study examining the nature of interpretation, and present a technological hermeneutic, a descriptive theory of how individuals interpret technology how they come to understand the meaning of the technology in their own lives. This theory offers insight into the myriad resources individuals draw from when constructing an interpretation of technology, including their own experiences with related technologies as well as their interactions with others use and understanding of the technology. This theory also offers insight into the nature of the interpretive process. Interpretations are dynamic and evolving; individuals continually draw from new experiences, reengaging and reinterpreting technology. Interpretations are also hybrid and synthesized; individuals draw from multiple resources in an active process of interpretive bricolage.