Information Politics on the Web

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MIT Press, 2004 - Computers - 200 pages
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Winner of the 2005 Best Information Science Book of the Year Award presented by the American society for Information Science and Technology (ASIST).

Does the information on the Web offer many alternative accounts of reality, or does it subtly align with an official version? In Information Politics on the Web, Richard Rogers identifies the cultures, techniques, and devices that rank and recommend information on the Web, analyzing not only the political content of Web sites but the politics built into the Web's infrastructure. Addressing the larger question of what the Web is for, Rogers argues that the Web is still the best arena for unsettling the official and challenging the familiar.

Rogers describes the politics at work on the Web as either back-end—the politics of search engine technology—or front-end—the diversity, inclusivity, and relative prominence of sites publicly accessible on the Web. To analyze this, he developed four "political instruments," or software tools that gather information about the Web by capturing dynamic linking practices, attention cycles for issues, and changing political party commitments. On the basis of his findings on how information politics works, Rogers argues that the Web should be, and can be, a "collision space" for official and unofficial accounts of reality. (One chapter, "The Viagra Files" offers an entertaining analysis of official and unofficial claims for the health benefits of Viagra.) The distinctiveness of the Web as a medium lies partly in the peculiar practices that grant different statuses to information sources. The tools developed by Rogers capture these practices and contribute to the development of a new information politics that takes into account and draws from the competition between the official, the non-governmental, and the underground.
  

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Contents

Introduction Behind the Practice of Information Politics
1
Backend Information Politics
3
Frontend Information Politics
9
Towards Web Epistemologies and Ontologies
14
Information Instruments Doing Politics
19
Political Instruments for the Web
22
The Issue Barometer
25
The Web Issue Index of Civil Society
27
The Dutch Food Safety Debate Leaves the Netherlands
83
The Challenges of Deterritorialization and Reterritorialization
85
Appendixes
87
After Genoa Remedying Informational Politics and Augmenting Reality with the Web
93
Aggregating Global Civil Society and Demystifying Protesters
95
Comparing Online and Offline Newspaper Coverage
104
Reformatting the Civil Society Issue Stream
117
Appendixes
133

The Election Issue Tracker
28
Towards a Politicoepistemological Practice with the Web
30
The Viagra Files The Web as Collision Space between Official and Unofficial Accounts of Reality
35
Exposing Viagra for What It Is
38
Explaining Expert Search Considerations to the Laity
40
Viagra According to the Web Experts
45
Bringing to Life New Viagra Subjects and Situations
54
Mapping Deterritorialization Classic Politics in Tatters
59
Classic Politics in Action
60
Historical Interlude
61
The Web as Source for Dynamic Debate Mapping
65
Mapping the Food Safety Issue in the Netherlands
73
Where is the Dutch Food Safety Debate?
75
Election Issue Tracker Monitoring the Politics of Attention
137
The Purpose of the Election Issue Tracker
139
Defining the Nonissues
142
Information Stream Design and Infopolitical Research
146
Media helped Populism?
152
Appendixes
161
The Practice of Information Politics on the Web
163
Political Instrument Design
168
Notes
177
Bibliography
189
Index
197
Copyright

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