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A Study of New Communication Technologies and Civic Engagement : A Time to Reconceptualize the Research Constructs?
Unformatted Document Text:  9 intelligence in the channel that the Web possesses; more specifically, he believes that power to filter and customize content will lead to dangerous reduction in the amount of shared social experiences and consequently, greater fragmentation of the society. He goes on to propose several regulatory measures including the reintroduction of the “must- carry” rules (this time for web sites) as well as the establishment of virtual “Speaker’s corners”, i.e. deliberative domains to promote exposure to differing viewpoints and provide certain level of shared experience (e.g. deliberativedemocracy.com). Besides being unfeasible, these proposals hardly have any basis in recent empirical research on the Web and human behavior. On the contrary, a recent analysis of the Pew Center survey data by Tewksbury, Weaver and Maddex (2001) suggests that the Web may provide a public space where a large number of citizens are accidentally exposed to current affairs information, especially because of the great popularity of portals like Yahoo.com. The research on the effects of the Internet has provided us with some important insights regarding the impact of new communication technologies on human behavior and society. However, I will argue that more than ever before, the search for the effects of the Web, or any other new technology, is unlikely to foster our understanding of the role of communication technologies in our society. Thus, we should preferably invest our time and efforts in trying to reformulate some of our questions, and also reconceptualize the Web as a research construct. A new research paradigm is greatly needed if our aim is to understand the complex interplay between the self, social environment and communication technologies in the era of the network society.

Authors: Skoric, Marko.
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intelligence in the channel that the Web possesses; more specifically, he believes that
power to filter and customize content will lead to dangerous reduction in the amount of
shared social experiences and consequently, greater fragmentation of the society. He goes
on to propose several regulatory measures including the reintroduction of the “must-
carry” rules (this time for web sites) as well as the establishment of virtual “Speaker’s
corners”, i.e. deliberative domains to promote exposure to differing viewpoints and
provide certain level of shared experience (e.g. deliberativedemocracy.com). Besides
being unfeasible, these proposals hardly have any basis in recent empirical research on
the Web and human behavior. On the contrary, a recent analysis of the Pew Center
survey data by Tewksbury, Weaver and Maddex (2001) suggests that the Web may
provide a public space where a large number of citizens are accidentally exposed to
current affairs information, especially because of the great popularity of portals like
Yahoo.com.
The research on the effects of the Internet has provided us with some important
insights regarding the impact of new communication technologies on human behavior
and society. However, I will argue that more than ever before, the search for the effects
of the Web, or any other new technology, is unlikely to foster our understanding of the
role of communication technologies in our society. Thus, we should preferably invest our
time and efforts in trying to reformulate some of our questions, and also reconceptualize
the Web as a research construct. A new research paradigm is greatly needed if our aim is
to understand the complex interplay between the self, social environment and
communication technologies in the era of the network society.


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