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Home > Books & Journals > Journal Abstracts Last Updated: 11:12 01/06/2009
Journal Abstracts #306: July 22, 2008

Information, Communication & Society

Journal Name: Information, Communication & Society:
Volume 11, Issue 3, April 2008

Online ISSN: 1468-4462, Print ISSN: 1369-118X


Helen Kennedy
Despite the growing maturity of new, interactive media, rhetoric about its possibilities and potentialities that abounded in its earliest days still endures. The growth of detailed and empirical work, which has sought to populate the digital landscape with grounded research calling into question this rhetoric, has not stopped new media debate from continuing to be shaped, in part, by the language of the potential. This paper is concerned with one aspect of new media's potential, personalization. It focuses on new media's proclaimed capacity to be adapted to meet the needs and desires of individual users. This is a trope that runs through much humanities and social sciences literature on new media and ICTs, yet despite recognition of the possibility of personalization offered by networked media technologies, there is very little grounded, empirical work on this subject in these fields. In order to address this absence, this paper compares an attempt to personalize new media web content on a two-year research endeavour entitled Project @pple with the rhetoric about the potentiality for personalization that new technologies offers. It aims to contribute to understandings of personalization by detailing the issues that arise when attempting to implement it. The argument of the paper is that the difficulties encountered on Project @pple suggest that, in real-life situations, characterized as they are by constraints and complexities, it is not always a straightforward process for personalization to cease to be potential and to become actual.

Keywords: New media; ICTs; personalization; individualization; variability; potential

TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS IN CENTRAL-EASTERN EUROPE:A case study of a computer literacy project in Slovenia (p326-347)
Zala Volcic; Karmen Erjavec
Based on in-depth interviews and a political economy analysis, this paper offers an evaluation of a Computer Literacy Project in Slovenia that was created as a part of a larger technological development project in the region. The article is divided into three main parts. The first part offers some critical arguments on the notions of development and technology. The second part contains an analysis of why the Computer Literacy Project received much support from the educational authorities in Slovenia - and it is argued that this is because it falls in line with general political and economic principles promoted by the dominant neo-liberal vision in the Central-Eastern European region. In the third part, a case study of the Computer Literacy Project in Slovenia is assessed. We attempt to unveil the discourses of the Computer Literacy teachers that were geared towards creating a specific vision of a Slovene future: a vision that continues to promise economic progress, and democracy through technology and the rise of the Internet. This section explores how their discourses stem from mainstream perspectives of development and technology. We attempt to unravel the paradoxes within the disourses, while showing how this vision sidesteps a morecritical analysis of the Internet's potential. Entrenched in a technological-deterministic perspective, the study respondents recognize that education and the democratic public sphere can be guaranteed by virtue of a technology access alone. We suggest that education policy-makers everywhere should carefully review their computer literacy policies, and we argue for a course on Information Literacy that would provide an alternative educational experience.

Keywords: Development; computer literacy; Internet; information literacy; Slovenia; Central-Eastern Europe

THE INFLUENCE OF HOLISTIC AND ANALYTIC COGNITIVE STYLES ON ONLINE INFORMATION DESIGN: Toward a communication theory of cultural cognitive design (p348-374)
Anthony Faiola; Karl F. Macdorman
Although studies have linked culture to online user preferences and performance, few communication researchers have recognized the impact of culture on online information design and usability. It is important to ask if people are better able to use and prefer Web sites created by designers from their own culture. We propose that to improve computer-mediated communication, Web site design should accommodate culturally diverse user groups. First, a body of research is presented that aligns East Asian cultures with more holistic cognitive styles and Western cultures with more analytical cognitive styles. Building on this contrast, a theory of cultural cognitive design is proposed as a means of understanding how cognitive styles that develop under the influence of culture lead to different ways of designing and organizing information for the Web.

Keywords: Cognitive styles; computer-mediated communication; cross-cultural; usability Web design

MAKING AND MANAGING ELECTRONIC CHILDREN: E-assessment in child welfare (p375-394)
Sue Peckover; Sue White; Christopher Hall
'Every Child Matters' (ECM) is a government response to longstanding concerns about child welfare and protection. A key feature is the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to improve information sharing and inter-professional communication. One of the proposals requires the establishment of an index, ContactPoint, which is a database containing information on all children in their area, to be used by child welfare professionals to indicate their involvement with a child and, where there is 'cause for concern', to facilitate joint action. Whilst these proposals for harnessing ICTs within child welfare are a central part of the government's modernization strategy, plans for the Index have been heavily criticized for its panoptic potential to invade privacy and override professional discretion and judgement. This paper reports findings from an ethnographic study funded by the ESRC e-Society Programme. Drawing on data collected in one 'Trailblazer' local authority area during the pilot phase, it describes the introduction of a local child index and the ways in which professionals and the technologies are drawn together within the local child welfare network. For the Index to achieve its original purpose of improving information sharing and inter-professional communication it must be 'used' by child welfare practitioners. But establishing the Index as a friend to the child welfare professional is not a straightforward process. The research suggests this is dependent on a set of relations that are being constantly negotiated and accomplished in everyday practice. It is clear the deployment of ICTs in professional practice is highly contingent upon local policy implementation, the local arrangement of services and the everyday practices of busy and sceptical practitioners.

Keywords: Child welfare; ethnography; technology; modernization; database; information sharing

EFFECTIVE USE OF MOBILE COMMUNICATIONS IN E-GOVERNMENT: How do we reach the tipping point? (p395-413)
Jane Vincent; Lisa Harris
This paper investigates what is needed to make the mobile phone a more effective tool for the interaction between government and governed. Recent studies have shown that a significant proportion of the UK population have no intention of accessing the Internet; however, it is reported that there are more web-enabled mobile phones than there are PCs in the UK. Mobile phones may thus offer the most viable electronic channel through which to encourage large-scale take-up of online public services. Although people have integrated mobile phones into their everyday lives, we argue that unless there is a substantial change in social practices the much heralded 'm-government' will take a significant amount of time to become a reality. Despite these ongoing challenges, mobile technologies offer huge potential to represent mainstream government/citizen interaction. The paper will draw upon case studies of best practice from around the world to investigate the emerging ways in which large-scale usage of this type of government/citizen interaction can be achieved.

Keywords: e-Society; innovation; technology; mobile phone; m-government; e-government

ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES, ONLINE SELF-PRESENTATION AND THE PERSONAL VOTE:Party, personality and webstyles in the United States and United Kingdom (p414-432)
James Stanyer
This article examines the way politicians package themselves to their constituents via the Web. It looks at various aspects of online self-promotion by incumbent representatives in two advanced industrial democracies - the US and the UK. It seeks to ascertain the extent to which personal qualities are a key aspect of an elected representative's online persona, and any differences that exist between these democracies with different electoral cultures. It concludes by considering the findings of empirical research and what it reveals about the relationship between national electoral cultures and the politician's persona.

Keywords: Elected representatives; homepage; online impression management; online persona; personalization; websites; webstyle

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