At Inter@ctiva - Communication and Natural Logic, we explore communication from an ecological perspective, integrating genetic epistemology and the critical tradition. We bring communication to the fore as a means to understand the role of humans and society in the balance between culture and nature. Humans have a natural need to live together. They create networks and build communities. Through the amazing capacity to communicate symbolically using different codes - many of them developed thanks to ingenious technical means -, human beings weave minds, hearts and make decisions that have moral and ethical consequences. Inter@ctiva's researchers are concerned with the cognitive, affective and ethical dimensions of human ecology, with a focus on understanding communication processes.
Although our theoretical interests go beyond technology, we have, historically, focussed on research aiming to understand how technologies are being used, and how they shape contemporary collectivities such as virtual communities and social networks. In the last 15 years, we have done research on the integration of synchronous and asynchronous information and communication technologies in real life settings such as schools and universities, hospitals, private and public companies, and social and cultural groups. Our studies go beyond mere description, and aim to achieve an in-depth understanding on human networking processes with the goal of providing communities with tools for meaningful social change and political transformation.
Research done to date led to (1) the development of ecology of meanings, a critical constructivist communication theory based on an interdisciplinary approach; (2) the refinement of methods, based on natural logic and argumentation, to enable the study of different kinds of discourse (static and dynamic text, audio, video, multimedia, etc.); (3) the development of communication strategies applicable to organizations and social groups engaged in networked communities using synchronous and asynchronous communication systems (for example: moderation techniques for the management of networked communities, participation strategies that people can apply when communicating online, etc.); and (4) contributions related to interface design of communication systems (such as recommendations concerning appropriate ways to scaffold meaningful in-depth communication in electronic conferencing).
Presently, we have been studying argumentation processes in children and adolescents with a focus on ways to empower them, making use of digital media and digital practices such as citizen journalism.