Tuesday, 13:30

 

A Study of the Informational Properties of the ISIS’s Content

Waseem Afzal
Charles Sturt University, Australia

Summary

Use of information networks by extremist groups to advance their totalitarian objectives is becoming a serious concern for global peace. The use of information networks is just one dimension; the other dimension and potentially more concerning is the production of sophisticated information content to influence public perception. One such group—the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS)— utilizing the affordances of information networks coupled with the sophisticated information content has been able to recruit a large number of foreign fighters from Western countries and hence is posing a threat to the national security of various nations. This research study analyses the content produced by the ISIS with an objective to identify (1) informational properties of and (2) information strategies used in their content. Initial findings suggest that ISIS’s content is rich in information with affective, theological, political, and historical connotations. Furthermore, their content is designed with an objective to give highly positively and/or negatively skewed information.


Enhancing Agency Through Information: A Phenomenographic Exploration of Young People’s Political Information Experiences

Lauren Smith
University of Strathclyde, United Kingdom

Summary

Introduction. This paper reports the findings of research into young people’s experiences of political information. The aim was to use phenomenography to identify variations in experiences of political information. The research explores how young people use information and technology to mediate political information to develop knowledge to become informed citizens. It focuses on how processes of discovery, production, retrieval, manipulation, dissemination, use, and evaluation of information are utilised in different ways by young people through a range of information behaviour techniques.

Method. 23 interviews and 3 focus groups were conducted with pupils aged 14-15 at a secondary school in England. The interviews and focus groups were recorded and transcripts and notes taken during the data collection sessions formed the data for analysis.

Analysis. Phenomenographic analysis was carried out, utilising manual coding and NVivo software.

Results. A phenomenographic outcome space represents the six qualitatively different ways in which the participants experienced political information, and identifies a range of political information sources, including social media and online news sources, which inform young people’s political knowledge and attitudes.

Conclusion. The outcome space illustrates the differences in ways young people experience political information and suggests potential for development to more complex ways of understanding the information they encounter. This represents a contribution to understanding the variation in information experiences and is of theoretical and practical value.


The Public Will vs. the Public Trust: Early American Radio as a Public Information Resource

Stacy Suzanne Wykle
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, United States of America

Summary

That radio broadcasting can be a form of scientific information transmission or a means of education and enlightenment of the public is somewhat of a foreign idea to the contemporary observer. Over the nearly full century that has transpired since the first public broadcasts aired in the US, radio programming has become a staunchly commercial enterprise directed by advertising and revenue rather than by any vision regarding the spread of knowledge for the benefit of humanity or the ideal of creating an “information society.” During the 1920s, in particular, radio broadcasts remained relatively uncensored because initial federal regulatory efforts were aimed at protecting the “public trust, convenience, and necessity” rather than overseeing content. Given this new public territory a range of colorful individuals—from outright vaudeville hucksters to earnest practitioners of the craft—contracted with stations to broadcast news and information, sell tools and medical devices, and provide personal consultation to listeners. In the 1920s and 1930s, therefore, astrology, in particular, became a significant factor in many Federal Communications Commission (FCC) license renewal hearings, due to two main perceptions: (1) that because fortune telling broadcasts primarily contained information meant for specific individuals who wrote to broadcasters with personal questions, they constituted “point to point transmission” of information and, therefore, did not serve the public interest at large; and (2) since such programs were nearly always related to the marketing of some product, such broadcasts were seen as nothing more than empty, manipulative ruses devised primarily for financial gain on the part of the broadcaster. Overall, however, the American audience for the earliest radio stations demonstrated themselves as ready to engage with the new medium as a means of information gathering, and, simultaneously, radio broadcasts were seen as a means of educating listeners. Although this topic has not received much attention by the information science community to date, it is an important piece of the public-information seeking landscape from a socio-technical perspective because early radio stations relied upon the pre-existing telephone infrastructure already in place in the US. An understanding of the use and early American radio as an information resource sheds light on the complex, persistent, and residual social and legal issues with which, for example, internet providers and users of the present day are contending.