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The Hypertextual Dialogue between Living History and True History: Two Perspectives from the World Wide Web on the Holocaust
Linköping University, The Tema Institute, Media and Communication Studies. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
2000 (English)In: Nordicom Review, ISSN 1403-1108, Vol. 21, no 2, 329-346 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

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.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2000. Vol. 21, no 2, 329-346 p.
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-13067OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-13067DiVA: diva2:17770
Available from: 2008-03-20 Created: 2008-03-20 Last updated: 2010-03-30Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. De länkade orden: Den digitala arenans dynamik
Open this publication in new window or tab >>De länkade orden: Den digitala arenans dynamik
2008 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[en]
The linked words : The dynamics of a digital arena
Abstract [en]

The overall aim of this thesis is to explore freedom of speech and aspects of credibility related to the Internet. The phenomenon freedom of speech is seen and examined principally from a communicative perspective. Theoretically the thesis is based on three key concepts: Internet, freedom of speech, and credibility. Four studies are included; each of them focuses on the main problem from different angles using different methods.

In the first study, two websites on the Internet, both having reference to the Holocaust, are examined. The aim is to identify some kind of hypertextual dialogue between Living history [Levande historia], representing a serious project about human respect and democracy, and True history [Sann historia], a plagiator expressing a revisionist opinion. The second study examines a media debate about freedom of speech and censorship related to the Internet found in newspaper articles published during 1997-1999, to see which issues these newspapers emphasise, and how the role of the Internet is described. The third study focuses on how university students writing essays assess the credibility of scientific information in web-based environments. In a questionnaire, the students estimate the importance they attach to 24 different elements. The fourth study seeks to increase the understanding of the function and dynamics of Wikipedia as a collaboratively shaped wiki-encyclopaedia. In e-mail interviews, active users are asked about their impressions and experiences.

Based on the studies, some reflections on what could be considered as special with the freedom of speech on the Internet are presented. These reflections, in terms of seven aspects, are referred to as the hypertext structure, the collage effect, boundless identities, shift in responsibility, parallel worlds and hyper reality, the compensating effect, and the leaching effect. A concept, denominated the hypertextual dialogue, has emerged during the work on this thesis. This concept has a technical, an intertextual and a discursive level.

The discussion deals with the news media’s approach towards the Internet, what their possible agenda could be, and the impact they have on people. Internet’s pluralism and its consequences are discussed. Wikipedia could serve as a model by showing how committed individuals interact to create a competitive product. When users interact with and within the hypertextual structure, the construction of meaning, as well as the responsibility for the consequences, would move from the texts’ original authors to the users. Perhaps the Internet requires the involvement of some kind of homo navigare who is able to function within, outside and between digital arenas.

Abstract [sv]

Avhandlingens övergripande syfte är att utforska yttrandefrihet och trovärdighet relaterat till Internet. Fenomenet yttrandefrihet betraktas och studeras ur ett kommunikativt perspektiv där Internet utgör arenan för kommunikationen som är möjliggjord av den digitala tekniken. Teoretiskt baseras avhandlingen på tre begrepp: Internet, yttrandefrihet och trovärdighet. Fyra studier ingår, var en har sitt specifika närmande och sin metod.

Den första studien berör två webbplatser på Internet, båda går att hänföra till Förintelsen. Syftet är att identifiera en slags hypertextuell dialog mellan Levande historia, som är ett seröst projekt om demokrati och medmänsklighet, och Sann historia, som uttrycker ett revisionistiskt synsätt. Den andra studien undersöker en mediedebatt, förd i dagstidningsartiklar 1997-1999, relaterad till yttrandefrihet och censur på Internet. Avsikten är att urskilja de beskrivningar av innehållet på Internet som tidningarna lyfter fram samt att se hur Internets roll berörs. Den tredje studien undersöker uppsatsskrivande studenters bedömning av trovärdighet vid sökandet efter vetenskaplig information i webbaserade miljöer. En enkät där studenterna skattar 24 olika element har använts. Den fjärde studien avser att utifrån intervjuer med Wikipedias användare öka förståelsen för Wikipedias funktion och dynamik som wiki-uppslagsverk.

I studierna framskymtar, på ett mer övergripande plan, aspekter av Internet som arena vilka gör att yttrandefriheten kan ses som förhållandevis speciell. Dessa aspekter diskuteras i termer av hypertextstruktur, collageeffekt, gränslösa identiteter, ansvarsförskjutning, parallellvärld och hyperrealitet, utjämnande effekt, samt urlakningseffekt. Ett egenkonstruerat koncept presenteras i den hypertextuella dialogen.

Diskussionen tar upp nyhetsmediernas förhållningssätt till Internet, vad som kan tillskrivas den bakomliggande agendan, samt mediernas påverkan på människor. Dessutom berörs Internets pluralism och hur den kan inverka på sättet att se på ”sanning”. Wikipedia framhålls som en förebild genom att visa på hur engagerade användare tillsammans kan skapa en konkurrenskraftig produkt. På Internet sker interaktionen inom och med den hypertextuella strukturen vilket påverkar meningsskapandet och förskjuter ansvaret från texternas ursprungliga skapare till användarna. Möjligtvis behövs någon slags homo navigare som kan fungera inom, utom och emellan digitala arenor.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2008. 68 + studies 1-4 p.
Series
Linköping Studies in Arts and Science, ISSN 0282-9800 ; 425
Keyword
Communication, Internet, freedom of speech, credibility, hypertext, wiki, dialogue, Kommunikation, Internet, yttrandefrihet, trovärdighet, hypertext, wiki, dialog
National Category
Other Computer and Information Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-11374 (URN)978-91-7393-954-6 (ISBN)
Public defence
2008-04-04, Vistasalen, Högskolan för lärande och kommunikation, Jönköping, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2008-03-20 Created: 2008-03-20 Last updated: 2014-09-22Bibliographically approved

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