WebCom: A Model for Understanding Web Site Communication

WebCom: A Model for Understanding Web Site Communication

Mikkel Godsk (The University of Aarhus, Denmark) and Anja Bechmann Petersen (The University of Aarhus, Denmark)
Copyright: © 2008 |Pages: 22
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-863-5.ch029
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Abstract

This chapter presents a model (WebCom) for understanding and analyzing Web site-mediated communication, also referred to as Web site communication. The model combines three theoretical approaches— communication, medium, and activity theory—into one generic model that benefits from each of the approaches’ strengths. Furthermore, it is discussed and shortly demonstrated how WebCom can be used for analytical and design purposes with YouTube as an example. The chapter concludes that WebCom is able to serve as a theoretically-based model for understanding complex Web site communication situations in their entirety, and that such thoroughly approach is required for successful computer mediated communication (CMC) when communicating across cultures and contexts.

Key Terms in this Chapter

SCC: An abbreviation of social-cultural contexts. Communication on Web sites takes place in several socio-cultural contexts; a local socio-cultural context in which the user is physically located, an Internet context in which the Web site is located, and a global context. Each of these contexts is characterized by a community, rules, and a division of labor.

HCI: An abbreviation of human-computer interaction, which is a discipline focusing on understanding and facilitating the development of usable user interfaces including usable web design.

Web Site Communication: Communication mediated by a Web site.

Object: In WebCom, “object” refers to the material towards the activity of the user is directed in actualizing an outcome. Thus the object is closely related to the intentions of the user.

Object: In WebCom, “object” refers to the material towards the activity of the user is directed in actualizing an outcome. Thus the object is closely related to the intentions of the user.

Conflicts: Inspired by the activity theoretical concept of contradictions as the source of the dynamism of activities and development, WebCom uses the term conflicts to designate interrelated discrepancies between the elements in the communication situation and thus indicate possible Web site communication problems.

SCC: An abbreviation of social-cultural contexts. Communication on Web sites takes place in several socio-cultural contexts; a local socio-cultural context in which the user is physically located, an Internet context in which the Web site is located, and a global context. Each of these contexts is characterized by a community, rules, and a division of labor.

Activity Theory: A psychological theory for understanding human activity in a socio-cultural context. The theory is originally developed by L. S. Vygotsky and A. N. Leont’ev and originates from Soviet psychology.

Activity Theory: A psychological theory for understanding human activity in a socio-cultural context. The theory is originally developed by L. S. Vygotsky and A. N. Leont’ev and originates from Soviet psychology.

Conflicts: Inspired by the activity theoretical concept of contradictions as the source of the dynamism of activities and development, WebCom uses the term conflicts to designate interrelated discrepancies between the elements in the communication situation and thus indicate possible Web site communication problems.

Web 2.0: An ill-defined term referring to a new generation of Web sites and web design. Some of the mentioned key features are that users are co-developers of Web sites, they share materials, knowledge and collaborate (via Weblogs, wikis, etc.), a focus on rich user experiences, and open standards (see O’Reilly, 2005).

HCI: An abbreviation of human-computer interaction, which is a discipline focusing on understanding and facilitating the development of usable user interfaces including usable web design.

Web Site Communication: Communication mediated by a Web site.

Web 2.0: An ill-defined term referring to a new generation of Web sites and web design. Some of the mentioned key features are that users are co-developers of Web sites, they share materials, knowledge and collaborate (via Weblogs, wikis, etc.), a focus on rich user experiences, and open standards (see O’Reilly, 2005).

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