Journal Name: Information, Communication & Society,
Volume 4, Number 3, 2001
Community E-gateways: Locating Networks and Learning for Social Inclusion
By Sonia Liff and Fred Steward
The provision of community e-gateways (community-based facilities providing public access to computers and the Internet) has been seen as a way to address the 'digital divide', particularly for people from deprived neighbourhoods. In the UK, policy and practitioner literature has stressed that for these centres to be successful they need to have strong social connections and be able to provide opportunities for interactive learning and content creation. Through a detailed analysis of one community e-gateway, which formed part of a wider study of public access provision, this article analyses the strengths and weaknesses of this advice drawing on broader sociological literature relating to social networks, network mapping and communities of practice. It concludes that greater attention needs to be paid to the significance of weak ties, two-way boundary spanning and the resource requirements of social networks for the policy objectives to be fully achieved.
Information Technologies and Representational Spaces at the Outposts of the Global Political Economy: Redrawing the Balkan Image of Slovenia
By Darren Purcell and Janet E. Kodras
Drawing upon insights from Deibert's (1997) reconstituted medium theory and critical geopolitics literature, this article examines Slovenia'sefforts at crafting an image of itself via the Internet for specific strategic goals such as EU and NATO accession, the promotion of tourism and the attraction of foreign direct investment. Through an examination of both the material and discursive practices undertaken by the Slovenian government, we demonstrate the difficulty inherent in challenging tropes that hegemonic powers disseminate through various media in order to craft the geopolitical world they operate in. Slovenia's websites represent an important form of resistance to hegemonic visions of space, visions that have excluded Slovenia's accession to certain power structures. The government uses the Internet to construct a discourse refuting assertions of unreadiness to accede to these institutions, a form of online lobbying that attempts to redraw the image of Slovenia in the minds of a global public. We conclude this examination not by making grand pronouncements about the efficacy of these efforts, but by demonstrating that these images are part and parcel of the efforts to disassociate Slovenia from the negative connotations of the Balkan moniker.The fact that these efforts incorporate the Internet, when linked to material practices and policies, raises questions about the possibilities of such resistance via new communication technologies.
Community and Its 'Virtual' Promises: A Critique of Cyberlibertarian Rhetoric
By Mihaela Kelemen and Warren Smith
The paper examines and critiques some of the libertarian rhetoric surrounding the 'virtual community'. In so doing, it argues that cyberlibertarians have misunderstood what community is by placing too much emphasis on a disembodied individual. Although it remains influential, cyberlibertarian rhetoric is a far cry from the everyday practices that are being constructed and reproduced via the Internet. By drawing attention to such practices, the paper attempts to bring to the fore the sociality of cyberspace interactions and redefine the virtual community in line with Maffesoli's concept of 'neo-tribe'. The Internet is thus thought to open up a new space where human 'will to live' is expressed in a social and embodied fashion (Maffesoli 1996).
'E-health': the Internet and the Transformation of Patients into Consumers and Producers of Health Knowledge
By Michael Hardey
This article analyses the use and production of health information on the Internet. The paper will show that users of health services have also become significant providers of health information and advice. This analysis is based on two studies. The first involved a qualitative study of households that used home computers to find health information on the Internet. The second piece of research involved the examination of home pages that contained accounts of ill health and an e-mailed questionnaire to home page authors. Drawing upon this research the consumption of health information is examined and related to how users make discussions about their health. This is followed by an analysis of the provision of health information on home pages. It is shown that these include web sites that provide simple accounts of an individual illness as well as sites that advocate a particular approach to health or offer services and products. The interweaving of personal experience with advice is considered and linked to debates about the quality of health information on the Internet and the reconfiguration of 'expertise'
Ethics, Regulation and the New Artificial Intelligence, Part II: Autonomy and Liability
By Perri 6
This is the second article in a two-part series on the social, ethical and public policy implications of the new artificial intelligence (AI). The first article briefly presented a neo-Durkheimian understanding of the social fears projected onto AI, before arguing that the common and enduring myth of an AI takeover arising from the autonomous decision-making capability of AI systems, most recently resurrected by Professor Kevin Warwick, is misplaced. That article went on to argue that, nevertheless, some genuine and practical issues in the accountability of AI systems that must be addressed. This second article, drawing further on the neo-Durkheimian theory, sets out a more detailed understanding of what it is for a system to be autonomous enough in its decision making to blur the boundary between tool and agent. The importance of this is that this blurring of categories is often the basis, the first article argued
The Electronic Face of Government in the Internet Age: Borrowing From Murray Edelman
By Andrew Chadwick
The issue of legitimation by political elites has been a central concern of political scientists for many years. This article draws upon the work of Murray Edelman who was instrumental in analysing this relationship between rulers and ruled, the relatively powerful and relatively powerless, through an understanding of language, symbolism and the manipulation of information. It concludes with the contention that the Internet offers the prospect for governments to create new 'electronic faces', which act to support a symbolic architecture of power.
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