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December 22, 2005
Agenda-setting and Blogs
From the December issue of First Monday:
Agenda-setting, opinion leadership, and the world of Web logs by Aaron Delwiche
The activities of journalistically focused Web log authors give us new ways to understand and measure the agenda-setting process. While previous researchers have explored issue salience by focusing on audience recall and public opinion, Web logs invite us to consider hyperlinks as behavioral indicators of an issue's perceived importance. This paper tracks news stories most often linked to by Web log authors in 2003, comparing the results to stories favored by traditional media. Arguing that Web log authors construct an alternative agenda within the admittedly limited realm of the blogosphere, I note that their focus has shifted from technology to broader political issues. My findings support Chaffee and Metzger's (2001) prediction that "the key problem for agenda-setting theory will change from what issues the media tell people to think about to what issues people tell the media they want to think about.
Also in the December issue of First Monday:
From libraries to 'libratories' by Leo Waaijers
While the eighties of the last century were a time of local automation for libraries and the nineties the decade in which libraries embraced the Internet and the Web, now is the age in which the big search engines and institutional repositories are gaining a firm footing. This heralds a new era in both the evolution of scholarly communication and its agencies themselves, i.e. the libraries.
Until now libraries and publishers have developed a digital variant of existing processes and products,i.e. catalogues posted on the Web, scanned copies of articles, e-mail notification about acquisitions or expired lending periods, or traditional journals in a digital jacket. However, the new OAI repositories and services based upon them have given rise to entirely new processes and products, libraries transforming themselves into partners in setting up virtual learning environments, building an institution's digital showcase, maintaining academics' personal Web sites, designing refereed portals and - further into the future - taking part in organising virtual research environments or collaboratories. Libraries are set to metamorphose into 'libratories', an imaginary word to express their combined functions of library, repository and collaboratory. In such environments scholarly communication will be liberated from its current copyright bridle while its coverage will be both broader - including primary data, audiovisuals and dynamic models - and deeper, with cross-disciplinary analyses of methodologies and applications of instruments. Universities will make it compulsory to store in their institutional repositories the results of research conducted within their walls for purposes of academic reporting, review committees,
and other modes of clarification and explanation. Big search engines will provide access to this profusion of information and organise its mass customization.
Academic home pages: Reconstruction of the self by Lesley Thoms and Mike Thelwall
Previous literature within the postmodern movement typically finds the Internet to be a tool for surveillance and restriction. This is particularly identified in the personal homepages of academics, where the university is considered to marginalise staff through the coercive governing of their identity construction. Using a Foucauldian framework in which to analyse twenty academic homepages, this study looks specifically at identity construction on the Internet via the differences of link inclusion between academics whose homepages have been university-constructed and those whose homepages have been self-constructed, both dependent and independent of the university site. A Foucauldian discourse analysis identifies the marginalisation of academics in all conditions, wherein discursive positions were typically those of disempowerment. A typology of homepages and hence identities of academics is proposed based on the Web sites examined, concluding that whether the homepage is constructed by the academic or by the university, the identities of the individual are ultimately lost to the governmentality of the university.
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