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Pattern Group A. Site Genres > Synchronous or Asynchronous Communication

Synchronous or Asynchronous Communication

One immediate question with respect to community conferences is whether people must interact with one another now, or can respond to one another later. The former is an example of synchronous communication, meaning that all parties have to be online simultaneously and interaction takes place in real time. Examples of synchronous communication include chat rooms, video conferencing, and shared drawing spaces. The latter is an example of asynchronous communication, meaning that members can leave messages that others can respond to later. Examples of asynchronous communication include e-mail, MESSAGE BOARDS (D5), and community-created Web pages.

Each approach has pros and cons. Synchronous communication is more spontaneous and often leads to faster decision making. However, people with slow Internet connections suffer enormously, and sometimes it is difficult to keep track of who is saying what. Asynchronous communication can be more thoughtful (though not always!), and participants can reply to posted messages at any later time. However, because of slow turnaround it is sometimes difficult to come to a consensus on issues, and it can be difficult to manage and take part in the many continuing conversations.


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