AIS Transactions on Human-Computer Interaction


Web 2.0 has great potential to serve as a public sphere (Habermas, 1974; Habermas, 1989) – a distributed arena of voices where all who want to do so can participate. A well-functioning public sphere is important for pluralistic decision-making at many levels, ranging from small organizations to society at large. In this paper, we analyze the capability of the blogosphere in its current form to support such a role. This analysis leads to the identification of the principal issues that prevent the blogosphere from realizing its full potential as a public sphere. Most significantly, we propose that the sheer volume of content overwhelms blog readers, forcing them to restrict themselves to only a small subset of valuable content. This ultimately reduces their level of informedness. Based on past research on managing discourse, we propose four design artifacts that would alleviate these issues: a communal repository, textual clustering, visual cues, and a participation facility for blog users. We present a prototype system, called FeedWiz, which implements several of these design artifacts. Based on this initial design, we formulate a research agenda for the creation of new tools that effectively harness the potential of the growing body of user-generated content in the blogosphere and beyond.



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