What I did in the summer

I just couldn’t resist the temptation on this one title! Anyhow, I’m back in front of a computer and more or less reliable internet connection, after a short break from all this. This is a recap mostly for myself to see what I did, what I’m doing, what I should (…and all sorts of other auxiliary verbs) be doing.

If you’re REALLY interested, this way  –>.

One of the tasks for the summer “holiday” is to catch up on reading some classics of communication studies. I have finished Walter Lippmann’s Public Opinion, and I’m currently halfway through John Dewey’s The Public and Its Problems. Also on the list are The Phantom Public (Lippmann), Bowling Alone (Robert D. Putnam), and Republic.com 2.0 (Cass R. Sunstein).

Then there are a couple of articles, too – 6, to be exact, from the NMS and the JCMC, which address various smaller, practical issues of online (community-tied) journalism; e.g. problems concerning how usability affects participation of users etc.

…and then there are a couple of huge question marks concerning the model of democracy I’m planning to use in my research.

Because even though I’m trying to figure out how the internet in general and social news websites in particular fit into the Habermasian model of the public sphere, I more and more find the contradictions within the Habermasian model (or perhaps even the use of the plural is permitted here, I mean, he revisited and altered himself a couple of times his idea of the public sphere) problematic. I knew from the start that I don’t agree with everything he has to say, but there is this idea – that somehow discussion tied to media publications is beneficial for democracy – which I firmly believe in. This is still so, but this “somehow” needs to be clarified; at least as far as describing competing views on the subject, as points of orientation.

This is one larger problem I’m dealing with. I would imagine that both Putnam and Sunstein will have something to say about it, so in order to be able to paint the bigger, background picture, I first have to read them; and then let’s see how their ideas reconcile with those of Lippmann, Dewey, Schudson, Habermas, Dahlberg, Mouffe and Bruns.

This whole question might also be approached from a wholly cultural perspective as well – cf. Dewey (so early!), Dahlgren -, and this is the second big “background problem” I shall deal with (after some reading).

… and then there’s the practical side, analyzing the pre-election campaigns, focusing on the sources, the topics (this latter needs some clear conceptualization, but I’m thinking along the lines of personal / issue-focused topics) and the practicalities (the role of key submitters, quickness, the use of video / audio) of social news websites.

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