Monday, February 28

Do blogs offer a plattform for the "ideal speech situation"? VIII

4.3.) Communication capacities (not relevant for me)

Van Dijk describes nine communicational aspects of new media. He compares those capacities of new media in general with traditional media, like the telephone, print, and broadcasting. However new media is a very broad term, and within the spectrum of new media differences can be seen with regard to the communicational aspects. The nine communication capacities will be used to compare weblogs with other forms of communication on the internet. In order to be able to answer the research questions properly at the end, Van Dijks terminology will be extended in this paper with two new ones.

The complexity of information possible through the different channels differs from channel to
channel. Chat allows for low complexity only, as it is meant for short text messages. The
interface design of chat software is geared to this as well, e.g. by the small editing window.
Forums allow for a bit more complexity. Answers in forums can be longer, and because of its
asynchronous character discussion can be carried out in more detail. However all
communication in forums remains text based which limits the complexity of information that
can be expressed. Web pages and weblogs, as they allow for visually represented
information, make higher complexity possible. Illustrations, graphs, and video images can all
be used.

The control an individual has to determine the content of communication is the last communicational capacity discussed here. Control is not one of the communicational capacities Van Dijk introduces, but it is introduced in this paper as it is a significant distinguishing factor. For chat the level of control is medium. One can decide who to chat with or not, and as it is synchronous communication the direction of communication can be influenced. For forums the level of control is lower, as it is not possible to determine who will take part in the communication or not, and the asynchronous character of forums makes it much harder to influence the direction a discussion will take. The author of web pages has absolute control over the information, and it is much the same for weblogs. If the correct software is used, control over comments and trackbacks is also possible, giving the author absolute control over the channel of communication.


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