Information, Interactivity and the Prospects of a Global Citizenry: An Inquiry into the Nature and Function of Online News

Robert MacDougall
InSITE 2003  •  Volume 3  •  2003
The United States has one of the most technically advanced, most expansive, most evenly distributed, and most freely accessed communication system on the planet. Yet Americans are simultaneously one of the most poorly informed populations (in terms of diversity of opinions/sources, depth and breadth of knowledge, etc.). The proliferation of personalized information services, photo news galleries, computer simulations, and a host of interactive media links on commercial Internet news sites have been hailed recently as one remedy for this troubling statistic. By 2005 the nations comprising Western Europe will represent the largest concentration of netizens in the world with more than 300,000,000 people connected to the Net, many seeking the same conveniences enjoyed by their American counterparts. This paper examines the relationship between technical features and usage patterns on several of the leading Internet news sites. I argue that as the Internet becomes more technically sophisticated, a proportionate, though inverse trend in the epistemological sophistication of its user base will be inevitable. Finally, I discuss the implications this trend holds for the future of a “global citizenry.”
internet, news, information, knowledge, hyper-utilization, decontextualization, epistemological, technological determinism, citizen
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