Fredrik Olsson, Jussi Karlgren, Preben Hansen, Martin Svensson, Rickard Cöster, Magnus Sahlgren
The role of the web user is under transformation from merely being an information consumer to also being a content provider, “from information age to participation age,” in the words of Sun CEO Scott McNealy. This increase in participation is most obviously manifested by the growth of online communities, weblogs (blogs), and various forms of cooperative and participatory publication of information. One main factor in the shift towards participation is the advent of authoring tools for wikipedias and blogs. Such tools have decreased the threshold for publishing material online considerably — it is no longer necessary to have knowledge about the technical workings of the web to be able to use it for making information available to a massive number of potential readers. (Although the lion’s share of information produced will probably remain in text form in the foreseeable future, it should be noted that other modalities, such as podcasts, screencasts, films and images, are increasingly attracting interest.) The dynamic nature of blogs and wikipedias poses new challenges to the field of information access and refinement; new theories, methods, and tools for alleviating the burden of digesting information on behalf of the readers are clearly needed. This paper presents some issues on readership and participation we are currently considering.