Monday, 31 March 2008

David Silver: History, Hype, and Hope: An Afterward

This Silver's text published as part of special issue of First Monday dedicated to Web 2.0 is a shortcontribution which does not bring profound insight into the "history, hype and hope" of Web 2.0, but at best (implicitly) grounds some of the issues that need to be addressed: first, re-writing the history of the notion of Web (2.0) and its embeddedness into the politically, economically and culturally specific social contexts; second, a question how to approach the notion of the audeince and its history in the context of the Web 2.0.

Bled: It felt like Apple "1984" Commercial

Commissioners Viviane Reding and Janez Potočnik were to give opening statements at the conference The Future of the Internet, however, they had other things to do. Instead, the PR office of the European Commission recorded commissioners' statements and projected the recordings to the big screen, so that the people at the conference could enjoy them. These two short speeches were political statements on the importance of further internet evolution - some words were given also on the importance of internet participation, however, the latter was missing in Bled. Simple, old-school one-way flow of communication ... No interactivity, no audience participation ... As Maja Turnšek said: "This two statements were a symbol of European Commission's way of communicating to the public."

It felt like the Apple "1984" commercial - with one small difference, instead of the athlete smashing the screen in Bled people at the conference gave a round of applause at the end of Potočnik's statement.

Bled: Everything 2.0

I just got back from Bled where I have attended the conference The Future of the Internet together with Maja Turnsek. The conference is organized under Slovenian Presidency with the support of the European Commission. I have listened to opening statements and to the first session - its objective was to outline the socio economic drivers of the on line economy and usages. It was intended to identify how the medium to long term evolution of the networked economy and society will influence technological, regulatory or policy requirements. The speakers one after another glued "2.0" to several terms (Citizen 2.0, Participation 2.0 etc.) and used "Web 2.0" in different fashion and did not even question the meaning. It is clear that the Web 2.0 is a buzzword and it is difficult to follow heterogenity in meanig behind the phrase. It seems David Silver gives a good point in his introduction to the text History, Hype, and Hope: An Afterward (which feels more like an outline to a more profound contribution than a completed scientific text): "There’s something quite brilliant, from a corporate–consumer–marketing perspective, about the term Web 2.0. Its very name – Web 2.0 – embodies new–and–improvedness: a new version, a new stage, a new paradigm, a new Web, a new way of living. Attached to any old noun, 2.0 makes the noun new: Library 2.0, Scholarship 2.0, Culture 2.0, Politics 2.0."

Friday, 28 March 2008

Web 2.0: The End of the Audience?

The notion of audience has been strongly contested in communication studies since the 1990s through the prism of cultural and technological transformations in media production and consequently fragmentation and specialization in media consumption (cf. Marshall, 2004; Livingston, 2006). These inclinations are also embedded in critical discussions on the phenomenon of Web 2.0 included in the special issue of First Monday – Critical Perspectives on Web 2.0: a new kind of media consumer who is more engaged, active and a participant is emerging in “the key business of the Internet”: creating, maintaining and expanding content (Allen, 2008); the users/producers are “immaterial free labor” and “the base to the superstructure of virtual real estate owners” (Scholz, 2008); the silent and obedient audiences of broadcast media are fading in favor to “the writable generation” (Silver, 2008). These authors approach the construct of the Web 2.0 from different perspectives: Scholz (2008) debunks the myths of the Web 2.0 brand and argues that the popularized phrase limits public media discourse, Allen (2008) approaches Web 2.0 by locating its emergence and significance within the broad movement of convergence of old and new media, Silver (2008) merely briefly »organizes thoughts around history, hype, and hope« of the Web 2.0. However, what seems to be a common conceptual issue of these reflections on Web 2.0 and debates on the online communication in general is the question of the theoretical and empirical fading of the notion of audience. It seems that the future investigations would have to deal with this question: How to approach the audience in contemporary media landscape?

In communication studies audience research – one of the pillars of communication research in the 20th century – has been partitioned according to the type of media consumed with two salient research focuses: contexts of media use and the interpretation of media content (Livingstone, 2006: 339). It seems that within the domain of what Jenkins (2006) calls “convergence culture” or what Deuze (2007) understands as “liquid media life” the term audience poorly fits, because it only satisfactory covers the activities of reading, listening and watching, moreover, it neglects the activating of the users “from a corporate-consumer-marketing perspective” (Silver, 2008) accelerated by “market ideology” (Scholz, 2008) or “ideology for the creation of new forms of dependence between individual humans and corporations” that “by monopolizing and controlling the network activities” benefit from this dependence (Allen, 2008). The term user that has consolidated in the investigations of online communication in recent years seems to allow for the greater variety of modes of engagement, although it tends to be overly individualistic and instrumental, with no specific and necessary relation to communication and neglecting the sense of collectivity and activity (Livingstone, 2006: 353). Therefore, there have been some examples of constructing new phrases – for instance produsers (Bruns, 2008) – that stress the activization of the online audience or online user/s.

Despite superficially presented terminological problem, which derives from related theoretical and empirical issues, the investigations into this “imaginary entity” (Ang, 1991) in the contemporary media landscape should try to be a reminder of constant changes in understanding of the notion of the audience framed by research interests in communication studies in transforming media landscapes specific of politically, economically and culturally specific social contexts from 1930s onwards. In this respect the historical review of the audience should be the theoretical groundwork to contemporary investigations into people’s media engagement in the context of Web 2.0 and broader, however, S. Livingston (2006: 356) acknowledges, that “both in looking back and in looking forward, it is already providing easier to investigate the contexts within which people use media-as-objects than it is to identify the interpretive ‘work’ within audiences engage with media-as-texts”.

Igor Vobič, March 2008

Allen, Matthew (2008). Web 2.0: An Argument against Convergence. First Monday 13 (3); available at:, March 28, 2008.
Ang, Ian (1991). Desperately Seeking the Audience. London: Routledge.
Jenkins, Henry (2006). The Convergence Culture. New York, London: New York University Press.
Deuze, Mark (2007). Media Work. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Livingstone, Sonia (2006). The Changing Nature of Audiences: From the Mass Audience to the Interactive Media User. In: Angharad N. Valvadia (ed.): A Companion to Media Studies, pp. 337–359. Oxford: Blackwell.
Scholz, Trebor (2008). Market Ideology and the Myths of Web 2.0. First Monday 13 (3); available at:, March 28, 2008.
Silver, David (2008). History, Hype, and Hope: An Afterward. First Monday 13 (3); available at:, March 28, 2008.

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Google Book Srearch and Google Scholar as research mechanisms

This weekend I have been reading Media Research and Its Histories edited by David Park and Jefferson Pooley - especially one chapter stroke me: Walter Lippman, Straw Man of Communication Research. This chapter deals with "preferred readings" of Lippmann in communication studies and its objective is "to clear away some of the litter and suggest alternative interpretative frames" of Lippmann's work. The authors included in this analysis were selected because they have been most influential in shaping views of Lippmann within the field of communication; new electronic databases make it possible to identify these patterns of influence. Google Book Search and Google Scholar make it is possible to track the frequency of citations as well as patterns of influence by pairing names in the search engines. For example, pairing Walter Lippmann and James Carey identifies all books in the database in which third authors refer to both men as well as the page numbers of these references. The text of the joint citations can then be accessed to determine if an author is basing claims about Lippmann’s work on a primary source, a secondary source, or both. In addition, third and even fourth degrees of separation can be identified, when for example, an author relies upon and acknowledges Carey’s interpretive influence, as Jay Rosen does, but then others build upon Carey’s interpretation without acknowledging it; this can be done by comparing frequencies of references to Rosen and Lippmann to references to Rosen, Carey, and Lippmann. Scholars presumably, as it is stressed in this chapetr, display biases in favor of citing more recent sources, especially in the case of secondary sources (Ewen rather than Schramm); to cite more prominent scholars (Chomsky rather than Jansen); and those with name recognition in their own discipline (in communication, Carey or Schramm rather than Blum or Riccio).

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Assignment posting on "Alternative" Online Media

Till today I did not now that the postings on the blog will be coded as 'discovery postings', 'substantive postings' and 'assignment postings' as part of the grading mechanism at the course New Media and Society. I have purposely left some of the latter out to save the comments, questions, critique for our weekly web-conferences - I am certain that some of the classmates did similarly. I have probably misunderstood the initial guidelines, therefore, I post some of the comments I planned to make last week and I intend to make tonight. It seems that in the core of this misunderstanding is a question of public and private.
Salter, L. (2006). Democracy & Online News: Indymedia and the limits of participatory media.
»We can consider media technologies and the uses of them through such a framework – they are democratic to the degree to which people can participate in the production process on their own terms.« (p. 1) This sentence is ideological and it is acctually expression of what Pickard identifies as radical democracy. What does it mean »on their own terms«?

The question I would like to rise in connection to Salter's article is: To what extent is the reproduction of the dichotomies between mainstream media and alternative media, mainstream news and alternative news legitimate and appropriate in academia? Aren’t these dichotomies simple ideological generalizations?

Pickard, V. W. (2006). Assessing the Radical Democracy of Indymedia: Discursive, Technical, and Institutional Constructions.
I have really enjoyed this article especially the part on the three tyrannies: the tyranny of structurelessness, the tyranny of ideology, the tyranny of the editor. This article is a great insight in the practice of IMCs and it delivers what it promises in the introduction: the illustration of how radical democratic principles are manifested across Indymedia practices, their advantages, lacks and paradoxes.

Herring, S. et al (2005). Conversations in the Blogosphere: An Analysis “From the Bottom Up”.
It is a strong article through the prism of research interest and conclusions as well. Mezhodology could be questionable in regard to research interest (communication between bloggers), because they started sampling with A-list blogs and then went on. It demystifies understandings of blogging as a democratizing force in public communication. This is reflected in the last sentence of the Discussion: “blog conversation appear to be a perceptually salient phenomenon.” Top 50 Blogs

It is not clear how the list of "World's 50 most powerful blogs", but here it is made by Guardian. It is a wide array of different themes, topis and approaches followed in these blogs, moreover, it is hard to find a pattern. Making a list of "most powerful blogs" is against the primary idea of blogs, blogging and blogosphere, because it opens the door to the notion of power and dividing inside "blogosphere" on the basis of it.

Saturday, 15 March 2008

Citizen Journalism Debate

On I have found a debate on citizen journalism among leading industry figures and representatives of the blogging community on the citizen journalism phenomenon. The panel, chaired by Jeremy Dear, general secretary of the NUJ, includes: Carol Hall, Rights Manager, BBC News; Kyle McRae,; Fiona Brownsell, CEO, Youview; Eddie Gibb, Head of External Relations, DEMOS; Bill Hagerty, Editor, British Journalism Review; Vicky Taylor, Editor, Interactive, BBC; Jemima Kiss and John Thompson; Simon Waldman, Guardian Unlimited. It is very interesting how the big players understand citizen journalism and blogging in changing media landscape. Do not miss it ...

Sunday, 9 March 2008 nothing similar in Slovenia (yet)

Before, during or after reading this weeks assigned texts (Salter, Pickard and Herring et al) check out established in 1999 for the purpose of providing grassroots coverage of the World Trade Organization (WTO) protests in Seattle. The Independent Media Center is "a network of collectively run media outlets for the creation of radical, accurate, and passionate tellings of the truth. We work out of a love and inspiration for people who continue to work for a better world, despite corporate media's distortions and unwillingness to cover the efforts to free humanity". In Slovenia nothing is happening in this direction this is very unfortunate from the point of journalism and news media research ...

Friday, 7 March 2008

YouTube: A Mirror?

YouTube is really a fascinating online environment. I often use it for finding good interviews for my undergraduate students, searching for cartoons from my childhood, remembering great goals from the football history etc. However, through a specific prism YouTube is worrying ... I try to build this paradoxical prism of values by pasting links below. If we understand YouTube as a product or "a mirror" - as Andrew Keen would put it - of our political, economic and cultural system we should probably be very worried ...

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

David Domingo's PhD

I have found David Domingo's (University of Iowa) doctoral disertation titled Inventing Online Journalism. He reviews the theoretical and empirical investigations of online journalism and analyzes three Catalan online newspapers. His approach is ethnographic. I haven't read it yet, but I plan to ... As soon as I do I will share my impressions.

Monday, 3 March 2008

Searching the Internet: Journalism on the Web

On the basis of Guide to Effective Searching of the Internet prepared by Bright Planet and UC Berkeley library I have made a arbitrary list of free search engines (Yahoo!,, Google, Google Scholar, and and conducted a search using a number of recommended procedures. My topic of interest was journalism on the web and I gradually narrowed the search:
- First, in scientific literature often used phrases such as “online journalism”, “web journalism”, “internet journalism”, “cyber-journalism” etc., therefore, I used the operator OR (“online journalism” OR “web journalism” OR “internet journalism” OR “cyber-journalism”).
- In the second step I narrowed the search on full scientific texts, therefore, I searched for pdf-files that are commonly used for documenting such literature (“online journalism” OR “web journalism” OR “internet journalism” OR “cyber-journalism” AND pdf).
- Third, because journalism on the web or online journalism to use the most common phrase is a broad subject I narrowed the interest to texts that deal with online journalism and changes of the newsroom by truncating words, using operator AND, and parentheses (“online journalism” OR “web journalism” OR “internet journalism” OR “cyber-journalism” AND pdf AND (chang* OR transform* newsroom*)).
1) First step search gave us over 1,760,000 results. First result was, a site that deals with on a array of issues linked with journalism. The second result was a reperot of The project for Excellence in Journalism from 2006. Among top ten results were blogs dealing with online journalism, Wikipedia’s article dealing with the subject and sites of news organizations (i.e.
2) The results and the number of them changed only slightly in regards to the first search. It did not offer a pdf-file in top results.
3) The results and the number of them changed only slightly in regards to the first and second search. Dominant results were blogs on online journalism, j-blogs and activist sites made by journalists.

1) First step search gave us over 4,600,000 results. The first result was Online Journalism Review a site that evaluates happening in the field of online journalism and is sponsored by Yahoo!. The second result was Wikipedia’s article on the subject. The third result was Mark Deuze’s article Online Journalism: Modelling the First Generation of News Media on the World Wide Web from 2001 published in The First Monday., a site that deals with on a array of issues linked with journalism. The second result was a reperot of The project for Excellence in Journalism from 2006. Among top ten results were blogs dealing with online journalism and activist sites made by journalists.
2) The results changed and they were narrowed to 439,000. In the first ten results were among others a survey on the roles of journalists in online newsrooms conducted as part of the Project for Excellence in Journalism and a complete Handbook of Independent Journalism, written by Deborah Potter, the executive director of NewsLab.
3) The results changed and they were narrowed to 1,390. Among top results was a number of pdf-files on online journalism and changing newsrooms: for example a report from the symposium held at the University of Texas, articles from Nieman Reports, and reviews made by professionals from couple of news organizations. Among top results were some j-blogs and educational blogs.
1) The first search gave 11,190,000 results. Among top results were among others Online Journalism Review a site that evaluates happening in the field of online journalism, that “helps journalists do their jobs better and to serve their communities”, and that conducts the Project for Excellence in Journalism. Other top sites were blogs and sites dealing with online journalism.
2) The results and the number of them changed only slightly in regards to the first search. It did not offer a pdf-file in top results.
3) The results and the number of them changed only slightly in regards to the first and second search.
1) The first search offered 595,000 results. Among top sites were almost exclusively collective sites and blogs made by journalists on the subject of online journalism (i.e.,,
2) The number of results narrowed to 56,000, but among top sites were almost exclusively collective sites and blogs made by journalists on the subject of online journalism. Less than a handful of pdf-files that could hardly be useful for serious insight into the matter of journalism on the web.
3) The number of results narrowed to thirty. Among top results still dominated blogs and collective sites made by journalists. Two of the results were interesting and worth checking them out: Nisar Keshvani’s PhD titled Integrated Newsroom, and article titled Interactive Options in Online Journalism: A Content Analysis of 100 U.S. Newspapers, written by Tanjev Schultz from the Institute for Intercultural and International Studies at the University of Bremen.
1) The first search gave 2,370 results. You get an insight in what was written by the academia on the subject of journalism on the web, the most important authors, and issues regarding the matter. However, you are only offered abstracts of articles or first pages of related books, no full text documents were among top results. Therefore, the results could be used as guidelines for further search on literature databases (i.e. Routledge online and Sage online) through universities’ libraries or for buying books on online book stores.
2) The number of results fell to 1,500 and a number of complete texts were offered among top results as pdf-files on a number of issues of online journalism – however, there texts were merely research reports by more or less internationally unknown authors. Despite this the readings are interesting and could be worth checking out.
3) The third search narrowed the results to 19. Similarly to the second search the sites offered literature written by more or less internationally unknown authors concentrated on specific national contexts. Through this prism they could be worth checking out.