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Doing Things in Relation to Machines: Studies on Online Interactivity
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Informatics and Media.
2012 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The Internet is often discussed in conjunction with various notions of interactivity. Recently, conceptualizations of a “Web 2.0″, mainly focusing on harnessing user-generated content, have grown increasingly common in both public discourse and among researchers interested in the continued growth and transformation of the Internet.

This thesis approaches the use and non-use of online interactive features by societal institutions. Specifically, the thesis focuses on online newspapers and online political actors, studying the practitioners working within those institutions and on their respective audiences. Consisting of four empirical studies, the thesis is informed theoretically by the application of conceptual tools pertaining to structuration theory. In Anthony Giddens’ original conception, structuration theory posits that social structure is recursively shaped (and possibly altered) as human agents choose to re-enact certain modalities of specific structures. By changing their uses of the rules and resources made available to them by structure, humans are given agency in relation to overarching, macro-level structures. Giddens’ writings have also been contextualized to the study of information technology use by Wanda Orlikowski, who has mostly focused on organizational research.

Combining insights from Giddens and Orlikowski, the thesis suggests that most Internet users are enacting a “structure of audiencehood”, entailing somewhat traditional consumer behavior, rather than a “structure of prosumerism”, which would entail extensive uses of the interactive features made available online. Similar traditional use patterns are discerned for practitioners. The thesis suggests that we should not be surprised at relatively low levels of use of interactive features by practitioners and audiences in these contexts. While the chosen areas of study are often surrounded by expectations and “hype” regarding the consequences of online interactivity, institutionalized news and politics can be said to represent stable structures – structures that have functioned in similar ways for extended periods of time, and, thus, are not so easily amended.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2012. , 97 p.
Series
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Social Sciences, ISSN 1652-9030 ; 77
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-171757ISBN: 978-91-554-8328-9 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-171757DiVA: diva2:512270
Public defence
2012-05-16, Ekonomikum, Hörsal 2, Kyrkogårdsgatan 10, Uppsala, 09:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2012-04-24 Created: 2012-03-27 Last updated: 2012-08-01Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Interactivity on Swedish newspaper websites: What kind, how much and why?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Interactivity on Swedish newspaper websites: What kind, how much and why?
2012 (English)In: Convergence. The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, ISSN 1354-8565, E-ISSN 1748-7382, Vol. 18, no 2, 195-213 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article examines what kind of interactive features are available on the websites of Swedish newspapers, and what factors seem to influence the utilization of those features. Using Chung’s typology of interactive features, we can discern four types: human (features that facilitate interpersonal communication), human–medium (allowing users to express their personal opinions), medium (allowing users choice options in experiencing news stories) and medium–human (allowing users to customize news to their liking) interactive features. Factors believed to have influence over interactive features are tested using statistical analysis. Even though different factors tend to influence different types of interactivity, results indicate that the most interactive newspaper websites belong to large, national newspapers with younger web staff.

Keyword
citizen journalism, interactivity, journalism, online newspapers, Sweden
National Category
Media and Communications
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-171714 (URN)10.1177/1354856511430184 (DOI)000208968100008 ()
Available from: 2012-03-26 Created: 2012-03-26 Last updated: 2017-12-07Bibliographically approved
2. Interactive to me – Interactive to you?: A study of use and appreciation of interactivity on Swedish newspaper websites
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Interactive to me – Interactive to you?: A study of use and appreciation of interactivity on Swedish newspaper websites
2011 (English)In: New Media and Society, ISSN 1461-4448, E-ISSN 1461-7315, Vol. 13, no 7, 1180-1197 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Research has indicated that although online interactive features are not used by the visitors of different websites, such features might be appreciated by the visitors. This article examines the use and appreciation of interactive features by visitors on Swedish newspaper websites. Utilizing an online survey focusing on different traits and habits of newspaper website visitors, the study presents a typology of visitor types, characterized by the different ways they use and appreciate interactive features in the online news media context. Although certain types make extensive use of interactivity, the overall results of the survey points towards rather low levels of both use and appreciation. As such, newspaper website visitors might be characterized as ‘slow learners’, taking their time to adapt to the interactive capabilities offered by the online news media.

National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-162338 (URN)10.1177/1461444811401254 (DOI)000297004800009 ()
Available from: 2011-11-29 Created: 2011-11-29 Last updated: 2017-12-08Bibliographically approved
3. “Extended infomercials” or “politics 2.0″?: A study of Swedish political party Web sites before, during and after the 2010 election
Open this publication in new window or tab >>“Extended infomercials” or “politics 2.0″?: A study of Swedish political party Web sites before, during and after the 2010 election
2011 (English)In: First Monday, ISSN 1396-0466, E-ISSN 1396-0466, Vol. 16, no 4Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Although many of the initial hopes regarding the Internets effect on political engagement and participation has largely gone unfulfilled, it is generally held that the Internet still has a substantial role to play during political election campaigns. Several studies have focused on how the Internet medium is employed for such purposes during the actual election campaign, but rather few (if any) studies have adopted a broader temporal scope, studying the Web sites of political parties before, during and after the election period. This paper fills this apparent research gap by presenting such a longitudinal analysis of the Web sites of Swedish political parties during the election year of 2010. Starting in January of 2010, these Web pages were downloaded on a monthly basis, lasting until the end of the year. By studying the Web sites of political parties before, during and after an election campaign, this project will provide scholars as well practitioners with unique insights into how Web campaigning rationale seems to develop.

National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-162336 (URN)
Available from: 2011-11-29 Created: 2011-11-29 Last updated: 2017-12-08Bibliographically approved
4. Studying political microblogging: Twitter users in the 2010 Swedish election campaign
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Studying political microblogging: Twitter users in the 2010 Swedish election campaign
2012 (English)In: New Media and Society, ISSN 1461-4448, E-ISSN 1461-7315, Vol. 14, no 5, 729-747 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Among the many so-called microblogging services that allow their users to describe their current status in short posts, Twitter is probably among the most popular and well known. Since its launch in 2006, Twitter use has evolved and is increasingly used in a variety of contexts. This article utilizes emerging online tools and presents a rationale for data collection and analysis of Twitter users. The suggested approach is exemplified with a case study: Twitter use during the 2010 Swedish election. Although many of the initial hopes for e-democracy appear to have gone largely unfulfilled, the successful employment of the internet during the 2008 US presidential campaign has again raised voices claiming that the internet, and particularly social media applications like Twitter, provides interesting opportunities for online campaigning and deliberation. Besides providing an overarching analysis of how Twitter use was fashioned during the 2010 Swedish election campaign, this study identifies different user types based on how high-end users utilized the Twitter service. By suggesting a novel approach to the study of microblogging and by identifying user types, this study contributes to the burgeoning field of microblog research and gives specific insights into the practice of civic microblogging. 

National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-162335 (URN)10.1177/1461444811422894 (DOI)000306376500001 ()
Available from: 2011-11-29 Created: 2011-11-29 Last updated: 2017-12-08Bibliographically approved

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