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De länkade orden: Den digitala arenans dynamik
Linköping University, The Tema Institute, Department of Communications Studies. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
2008 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)Alternative title
The linked words : The dynamics of a digital arena (English)
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 [en]
Communication, Internet, freedom of speech, credibility, hypertext, wiki, dialogue
Keyword [sv]
Kommunikation, Internet, yttrandefrihet, trovärdighet, hypertext, wiki, dialog
National Category
Other Computer and Information Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-11374ISBN: 978-91-7393-954-6 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-11374DiVA: diva2:17774
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
List of papers
1. The Hypertextual Dialogue between Living History and True History: Two Perspectives from the World Wide Web on the Holocaust
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Hypertextual Dialogue between Living History and True History: Two Perspectives from the World Wide Web on the Holocaust
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.
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-13067 (URN)
Available from: 2008-03-20 Created: 2008-03-20 Last updated: 2010-03-30Bibliographically approved
2. Freedom of Speech on the Internet?: A Media Discourse in Swedish Newspapers
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Freedom of Speech on the Internet?: A Media Discourse in Swedish Newspapers
2005 (English)In: De länkade orden: yttrandefriheten och den hypertextuella dialogen på Internet / [ed] Maria Mattus, Linköping: Tema kommunikation , 2005, 1-27 p.Chapter in book (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The media have the power to affect people. This study examines how newspapers write about the Internet in the context of freedom of speech/censorship.

The aim is to see how four Swedish newspapers describe Internet contents, and, further to discuss why these issues and themes are used in the media debate. In a broader sense, it also discusses freedom and freedom of speech related to the Internet.

The methods chosen are content analysis together with an approach inspired by the field of discourse analysis. The data consists of 106 articles, published between 1997-1999, in four Swedish newspapers.

Issues found in the articles are identified and grouped into eight themes: 1. Sexually oriented material, 2. Personal integrity, 3. Racist expressions, 4. Political criticism, 5. Vague expressions, 6. Opposition, 7. Faith and beliefs, and 8. Economy.

These themes have then been analysed and discussed. Based on the findings, questions about the way the media write about the Internet are raised. One explanation could be referred to the established rules of news values; another might be that one medium is reflecting another medium – a quite complicated situation since this new medium seems to be very complex and deviating in many aspects.

Media’s representations might be the cause of fear and anxiety, even moral panic. A frequent motive and reason given for any censoring of the Internet refers to the protection of young people. Restricting freedom of speech on the Internet would be one way to allay people’s anxieties. By implementing such solutions, the media may possibly contribute to balance the situation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Tema kommunikation, 2005
Series
SIC (Linköping), ISSN 0280-5634 ; 43
Keyword
Internet, freedom of speech, censorship, media discourse, fear, anxiety, moral panic
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-13068 (URN)LIU-TEMA-K--43--SE (Local ID)91-85457-80-9 (ISBN)978-9-1854-5780-9 (ISBN)LIU-TEMA-K--43--SE (Archive number)LIU-TEMA-K--43--SE (OAI)
Available from: 2008-03-20 Created: 2008-03-20 Last updated: 2014-10-03Bibliographically approved
3. Finding Credible Information: A Challenge to Students Writing Academic Essays
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Finding Credible Information: A Challenge to Students Writing Academic Essays
2007 (English)In: Human IT, ISSN 1402-1501, Vol. 9, no 2, 1-28 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study focuses on how students assess the credibility of scientific information in web-based environments. What importance do students attach to different cues when assessing credibility? The aim is to investigate whether the framework suggested by Fogg (2002; 2003; Tseng & Fogg 1999a; 1999b), which comprises four types of web credibility (presumed, reputed, surface and earned credibility), can be of use in this specific context to increase the understanding of how essay-writing students assess the credibility of scientific information in web-based environments.

A questionnaire concerning students’ search behaviour and their evaluation of information was answered by 144 students (110 women and 34 men) at a Swedish university. Descriptive statistics were used during the data processing.

The students were asked to rate the credibility of 24 elements. They attached most importance to the following elements: Year of publication, Teachers’ recommendations, Abstract, and Established researcher. These elements represented all four types in Fogg’s framework. The elements that concerned earned credibility – based on first hand experience – were noted as comparatively more important by the respondents.

Keyword
information seeking, students, academic writing, credibility, web-/computer-based information, Internet, source criticism
National Category
Other Computer and Information Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-13069 (URN)
Available from: 2008-03-20 Created: 2008-03-20 Last updated: 2009-03-25
4. Wikipedia – Free and Reliable?: Aspects of a Collaboratively Shaped Encyclopaedia
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Wikipedia – Free and Reliable?: Aspects of a Collaboratively Shaped Encyclopaedia
2008 (English)In: Nordicom Review, ISSN 1403-1108, Vol. 30, no 1, 155-172 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Wikipedia is a multilingual, Internet-based, free, wiki-encyclopaedia, created by its own users.

The aim of this article is to let the users’ descriptions of their impressions and experiences of Wikipedia increase the understanding for the function and dynamics of this collaboratively shaped wiki-encyclopaedia.

Qualitative, structured interviews via e-mail, concerning users, and the creation and use of Wikipedia, were carried out with six male respondents – administrators at the Swedish Wikipedia – during September and October, 2006.

The results focus on the following themes: I. Passive and active users; II. Formal and informal tasks; III. Common and personal visions; IV. Working together; V. The origins and creation of articles; VI. Contents and quality; VII. Decisions and interventions; and, VIII. Encyclopaedic ambitions.

The discussion deals with the approach of this encyclopaedic phenomenon, focusing upon its “unfinishedness”, the development in different directions, and the social regulation implied and involved. Wikipedia is a product of our time, having a powerful vision and engagement, and it should therefore be interpreted and considered on its own terms.

Keyword
Wikipedia, encyclopaedia, wiki, cooperation, collaboration, social regulation
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-13070 (URN)
Available from: 2008-03-20 Created: 2008-03-20 Last updated: 2010-03-30

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