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Elmine Wijnia is from the Netherlands, residence Enschede. She is a student at University of Twente. Officially she is doing Communication Studies, but wasn’t satisfied with the curriculum they provided. Therefore she took up a minor in Philosophy to broaden her horizon. Currently she is working on her master's thesis in which she tries to combine communicational and philosophical theories.
Why does she publish on the net? Her thesis will be about weblogs and her theory is you can’t write about something you haven’t tried yourself. Therefore she started writing a blog in English. An other reason for starting this blog is that there aren’t much academic papers around about weblogging so she hopes to get as much information she can through her weblog Communigations.
Understanding blogs: a communicative perspective
Looking at weblogs, what catches the eye is that dialogue is an important aspect, at least in professional oriented weblogs. It is almost as if conversations emerging from weblogs are inevitable. A weblog therefore is not just one-way communication in which a person shows his or her personality, as with personal static websites, but becomes two-way communication. This gives the weblog both the role of transmitter as well as receiver.
From a communicative point-of-view the weblog is a new way of communicating which combines personal control over the medium with a strong orientation towards interaction. The question put forward in this paper is how we can understand the weblog as a form of communication. Answering this question requires two steps. First of all it is necessary to analyze when something is to be considered communication and whether weblogs meet those conditions for communication. Second, we need to understand the mediating role of technology in communicative processes with regard to weblogs. The combination of these two aspects lead to a better understanding of weblogs as communication.
To formulate the conditions for communication the theory of Habermas will be used. This contemporary German philosopher has formulated an explicit theory on communicative action and it will serve as a conceptual framework to describe communication. He describes conditions under which communication can take place. Taking these conditions and comparing them with definitions of weblogs will indicate if weblogs offer a platform for, as Habermas calls it, the ‘ideal speech situation’.
Habermas’ theory is not clear about whether his ideal speech situation applies to unmediated communication only, or if (technology) mediated communication is included. Communication through weblogs is a form of mediated communication since it takes place through a computer, the internet and publication software. We know that technology mediates the experience of the user. Ideas about this mediation range from very negative ones to more positive ideas. Theories that emphasize on negative aspects of the mediating role of technology say that technology will alienate us from reality. According to some, the rise of the use of internet applications for communication means an impoverishment of our social surroundings. More positive theories emphasize the creation of new experiences that weren’t possible before.
To be able to understand weblogs as a form of communication, the influence of the use of technology on communication processes will have to be researched. By applying theories on technology mediation to weblogs this study explores which aspects of the communication process in weblogs are influenced, and in which way.
The final step in this paper is reflecting on the combination of the theory of Habermas and the theories regarding the role of mediating technologies. It will be analyzed whether mediated communication through weblogs can be seen as an ideal speech situation and whether there are aspects that emerge through the use of technology that Habermas doesn’t account for.
last update: Friday, July 23, 2004 at 10:32:11 AM-----------------------