Why theory?


Understanding the web requires more than the average user can possibly imagine. This is because our era is an absolutely transitional one; in digital terms.

Only 15 years have passed since the first htmls presented news content in a somehow less informative way than paper had already accomplished, since its rapid acceleration towards visualization, due to the advent of television.

Thus, the visualization of media content (in the most broader sense – academic textbooks included) had already the dynamic load that the web was waiting for. Therefore, when Tim Berners-Lee came up with the 3Ws, an explosion occurred. Modestly at first, in terms of numbers, devices and social appeal, followed by various waves, triggered by social interest. This social interest was facilitated by events of major significance; Clinton-Lewinski affair, 9-11, Madrid and London attacks, Indonesia tsunami, North Africa uprisings, Libya, Japan earthquake and nuclear instability.

These events, that have evolved in the last couple of decades, each one has created different effects on the evolution of the internet, its usage, as well as the conceptual readings of the new digital environment. Events of that magnitude force media to come up with viable concepts that go beyond merely passing on information and enable them to contribute fully to their social role.

Recently, the advent of the social Web has suddenly overturned internet communication for good. According to a study by the Schuman Foundation in Strasbourg, social networks effectively offer new, better means of communication and more than just simple socialisation tools; they are now real communication and mobilisation platforms.

Last year, a report by the European Parliament stressed that, although social networks are a relatively good way of disseminating information rapidly, their reliability as sources cannot always be sufficiently guaranteed and they cannot be considered to be professional media. The report underlines that the way in which data is handled on social network platforms can in many cases be dangerous and give rise to serious breaches of journalistic ethics, and that caution is therefore required when taking up these new tools. It emphasises the importance of drawing up a code of ethics applicable to new media (See “Report on journalism and new media – creating a public sphere in Europe”, 2010/2015/INI).

As the internet and its different facets continue to proliferate, communication theory plays a dual role: firstly, it keeps a record of developments, and exercises continuous reality checks on the internet frenzy and secondly, it connects the dots between gadgets, users’ psychology and the internet economy.

Demetris Kamaras

Journalism Professor and journalist, primarily online. Political analyst and communications specialist. Previous studies in economics (BA), communications policy (MA) and journalism (PhD), mostly in London. Born in Hove, Brighton. Lives in Athens, Greece. Blogs when necessary. Founded and running dailyGreece.net Private Information Network and alyunaniya.com [The Greek]. Occasional articles of friends are published on PostNews.eu. Interested in political communication, next-gen web apps, digital R&D, internet ethics and social networks. He taught journalism and communication at University of Indianapolis Athens (1999-2013). Published numerous analyses and op-eds, online and in print and his first book was titled: Digital Communication (Zenon Publications, London, 2000 – co-authorship). Recent publications: Crisis Talk; Greece (2012) – iBook/Avaialble on iTunes. Elections and the Internet, Digerati Publications (Athens, 2014) (in Greek).

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