The political economy of e-mediation
K. Patelis 1999
The current paradigm for perceiving e-communication constructs the Internet as a metaphor for the direct communication between autonomous free individuals. The Internet allegedly brings to life the marketplace of ideas, and the free market itself. Essential to the model presented is proof that communication in the on-line world is in no way mediated. Any factor that mediates communication compromises individual soveirgnity hence puts the model in danger. A perception of software as neutral, as a benign tool for individual empowerment and of e-intermediators as bystanders who add utility to surfing is essential to maintaining the model. In addition to this there is a tendency to analyse e-communication as fragmented, as occurring after a user views the desired Web-page. This essentially fragments the mediation in question and inevitably diminishes its importance in understanding on-line power. This paper will critically analyse e-mediation as cultural force. The focus of the talk will be America On-line who will function as a case study which exemplifies the analysis offered. Starting point will be an analysis of software as cultural environment that constructs information in the same way language constructs perception. Furthermore a critical analysis of portal sites and the way in which they attempt to structure surfing. Key to this is perceiving of on-line power as configured by the interplay of the industries that form the on-line world. In short it is essential to comprehend that the on-line experience is not fragmented, and that it is in the interplay and mix of telecoms, isp's, search engines, software and content providers that the most important formation of online power is constituted: signposting. How Signposting's function for the on-line news environment of AOL will be examined.
E-Mediation by America On-line, in Preferred Placement. (prel. draft of article published in Richard Rogers, ed.(2000) Preferred Placement - Knowledge Politics on the Web Jan van Eyck Editions: Maastricht.
Preaching to the Complacent (published in Crash Media)
The Political Economy of Internet (published in Curran, J. Media Organisations London; Arnold)
The Dot.com Economy An Economy with no mediation? (published in the Tulipomania.com reader)