From transactions to interaction

In theatre, the distinction is made between actions and activities. Actions affect identity and what happens next. Activities, drinking a cup of coffee of doing the dishes, just happen and have no consequence (Interview Lavery 2009). In this paper, the focus is on actions; they are fundamental to the finding of facts (interview MacFaydyen 2009). Actions in online environment are mostly done through words. To understand how ‘words act’, a variety of terms is used, and these words are not distinct in meaning: information, communication, tuning, transaction, interaction, negotiation, reciprocity, representation, reference, replay and more.

Human beings need initial trust to be able to act and participate in both their physical environment and virtual and online environments. In face-to-face contexts, transactions emerge from rhythm and coordination (interview Gill 2010). In the first few moments of meeting, someone people have a sense of how to engage and how to trust. This is before any other action takes place. In an online environment, this takes longer. Trust emerges after transactions have taken place, and coordination is established. The establishment of trust in on and offline contexts has different trajectories. In the real world, synchronization and tuning of rhythm is inside out. In the online world, trust emerges outside in, through series of coordinated transactions (rhythm and synchronization) through which trust develops over time (interview Gill 2010).

In online environments, trust emerges when a series of transactions become interaction, in the transition from cognitive understanding to feeling. When random noise turns into rhythm, feeling emerges (interview Gill 2010). Establishing rhythm in online environments requires careful negotiation at first. It can be compared with ‘courting’ in a sense. In this negotiation, both convention and spontaneity play a role. The online world needs duration of engagement before the advantage of a convention is acquired. Online worlds do not have the spontaneity of a face-to-face dialogue and are more fragmented (interview Gill 2010). The inside-out-trust trajectory, which characterizes trust in face-to-face contexts, can be compared with human beings try to find a common musical composition. The outside-in-trust trajectory, which characterizes trust in online environments, can be compared with the hard negotiation of armies negotiating their terms of openness for survival’s sake (interview Gill 2010).