E-mail is one of the most successful computer applications ever devised. Similarly to other Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC) systems, e-mail has been described as a communication media that may, occasionally, promote poor social interactions because of the lack of sensorial feedback. Empirical findings based on Speed Communication Analysis (Wicklund & Vandekerckhove, 2000) found e-mails in friendship communication (i.e., informal interaction) to be short and poor in content. The present article reviews recent disclosures on systems and methods that might overcome the sensorial limitations typical of e-mail communication. Among the patents discussed is a method for detecting and reconstructing the emotional state of the e-mail sender. Another system is presented that allows an e-mail sender to express emotional contents by means of musical emoticons. Last, an innovative method is also described that can lead an e-mail user to edit optimal reply messages. Potential limits on the use of these technologies are considered in the conclusions.
Keywords: E-mail, CMC, feedback, emotional state, motivation, interaction, face-to-face, speed communication, nonverbal, word processor
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