The World Wide Web offers almost unrestricted freedom of speech. Consequently, this large marketplace of ideas1 contains all kinds of information inc\uding plagiarism, falsifications, and incorrect data. Sometimes, web information is considered problematic, or even dangerous, because of its possible infiuence on the readers' thoughts and acts, but, "dangerous" information is not necessarily related to issues like pornography, racial hatred, blasphemy or bomb-making. The presence of misleading, unreliable or indefinable information might be a problem that is even more difficult to survey. Since we are expected to collect an increasing amount of information from the World Wide Web, what information can we use and trust?
This study shows that the freedom of the World Wide Web can provide great opportunities for some actors, but it can also mislead the readers. Living History, a serious information campaign, supported by the Swedish government, was plagiarised by an anonymous web actor, True History, which presented confiicting opinions. This plagiarism gave rise to an interesting kind of interaction between these two actors, whose inequality as regards their positions and resources would certainly be more noticeable in other arenas.
The concept hypertextual dialogue is chosen to describe the above interaction. The first part, hypertextual, refers to the structure on the World Wide Web, but also to the intertextuality that unites texts from different sites and makes them intenelated and part of the same discourse - the term hypertext can be used to apply to both the structure and the content. In this study, the latter aspect is focused. The second part of the concept, the dialogue, refers to a definition used by LinelI (1998:9): "any dyadic or polyadic interaction between individuals who are mutually co-present to each other and who interact through language (or some other symbolic means)". A hypertextual dialogue takes place in an arena, like the World Wide Web, where the actors interact more or less deliberately in several ways.
The aim is to identify some kind of hypertextual dialogue between the two sites on the World Wide Web, and to find out,
- how the texts become intenelated and part of the same discourse;
- how the reproduction and recontextualisation of words or text segments cause a change in the meaning of the message;
- how the actors interact and affect one another;
- how the actors describe their own and the other's identities.
2000. Vol. 21, no 2, 329-346 p.