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A Study of New Communication Technologies and Civic Engagement : A Time to Reconceptualize the Research Constructs?
Unformatted Document Text:  12 broadcast, which renders a clear separation of “cyber” from “old” politics almost impossible. Similarly, Dahlgren (2000) suggests that researchers should investigate how the Net is used in conjunction with other off-line activities instead of focusing exclusively on the Internet. He argues that the prime goal is to discover if the Web use adds any value to civic culture and proposes comparative research design involving a number of civic groups that use the Net to further their causes. Indeed, Dahlgreen’s (2000) proposal seems right on the target, as it rightfully suggests that we are not really looking for an effect of the new media, but rather for an interaction between new communication technologies and traditional communication. So how should we go about redefining our research aims and questions? Firstly, mediated political communication should not be solely analyzed from a perspective of any particular communication medium or platform, as they are subject to constant change. Instead, our aim is to conceptualize basic dimensions that can be used to characterize any particular communication technology. The model I am proposing has five dimensions: • interactivity (one-way or two-way; horizontal or vertical) • directionality (discriminate or indiscriminate, following Kestnbaum 2001) • mode (text, audio, video or multimedia) • latency (real-time or delayed) • capacity (bandwidth, storage, or compression; following Owen 1999) For example, according to this typology, broadcast television would be a one- way, indiscriminate real-time video medium with 6 MHz of bandwidth, whereas a phone

Authors: Skoric, Marko.
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broadcast, which renders a clear separation of “cyber” from “old” politics almost
impossible. Similarly, Dahlgren (2000) suggests that researchers should investigate how
the Net is used in conjunction with other off-line activities instead of focusing
exclusively on the Internet. He argues that the prime goal is to discover if the Web use
adds any value to civic culture and proposes comparative research design involving a
number of civic groups that use the Net to further their causes.
Indeed, Dahlgreen’s (2000) proposal seems right on the target, as it rightfully
suggests that we are not really looking for an effect of the new media, but rather for an
interaction between new communication technologies and traditional communication. So
how should we go about redefining our research aims and questions?
Firstly, mediated political communication should not be solely analyzed from a
perspective of any particular communication medium or platform, as they are subject to
constant change. Instead, our aim is to conceptualize basic dimensions that can be used to
characterize any particular communication technology. The model I am proposing has
five dimensions:
interactivity (one-way or two-way; horizontal or vertical)
directionality (discriminate or indiscriminate, following Kestnbaum 2001)
mode (text, audio, video or multimedia)
latency (real-time or delayed)
capacity (bandwidth, storage, or compression; following Owen 1999)
For example, according to this typology, broadcast television would be a one-
way, indiscriminate real-time video medium with 6 MHz of bandwidth, whereas a phone


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