«Andrés Gregor Zelman The University of Amsterdam 2002 ii Mediated Communication and the Evolving Science System: Mapping the Network Architecture of ...»
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Mediated Communication and the Evolving Science System:
Mapping the Network Architecture of Knowledge Production Summary The advent of electronic media into the academic environment has forever changed the way that academics communicate, perform their research, and contribute to the production of knowledge. These relatively recent changes in the mode of knowledge production have been theorized by Gibbons (et.al.;1994) as a shift from Mode I to Mode II which indicates a move away from knowledge produced in traditional research contexts to an environment in which knowledge is created in broader, transdisciplinary social and economic contexts. Similar arguments have been made in two significant OECD publications (1996, 1997), where the advent of electronic media is considered part and parcel of this shift in the predominant mode of knowledge production. The increasing use electronic media for communication and the current changes in the ways that knowledge is produced are mutually implicated phenomena, and this introduces a problematic: what is the relationship between print and electronic media with respect to how knowledge is produced in academic environments? In part, this problematic motivates the thesis.
To adequately address the complexities of this problematic, several distinct literatures were reviewed. Chapter I: Introduction – Key Concepts introduces the complexities between media difference and distinct modes of knowledge production, and articulates the problematic in terms of the centrality of media to human communication, and in terms of the ability as an analyst to adequately assess the impact upon the academic environment, given their overlap. The chapter provides a review of dominant metric approaches which are used in a variety of ways to map networks of human communication. Bibliometrics is introduced as a burgeoning academic tradition that stretches back to the middle ages, scientometrics as a technique to monitor publication patterns and discipline formation, and cybermetrics as an umbrella term meant to incorporate a myriad of different types of analyses on data such as web-traffic, credit card transactions, and the like. The metric analyses situate the present study, and are introduced as a means through which the problematic of media overlap and its impact on processes of knowledge production could be addressed.
Chapter II: Theoretical Grounding served to review a variety of theoretical positions from Science & Technology Studies and Communication Studies, inasmuch as they dealt with issues of mediation or knowledge production. The central proponents of Medium Theory (Innis, McLuhan, Ong, Meyrowitz) were reviewed to provide the theoretical grounding of the research project. Stucturalism (Saussure, Lévi-Strauss, Ricoeur), Postructuralism (Derrida), and Structuration Theory (Giddens) were then reviewed as symbolic approaches to the problematic of mediated human communication, in light of where they respectively placed the ‘locus’ of meaning.
Finally, Actor Network Theory (Callon, Latour, Wise) and Second Order Cybernetics (Luhmann, Leydesdorff) were reviewed as modelling approaches to mapping human communication. The theory chapter served to bind these diverse approaches into a single dissertation heuristic of Architecture – Network – System through which the subsequent analyses would be performed. Architecture isolates the parameters of
Chapter III: Materials & Methodologies introduces the EU Research Project selected for the case study. It was selected precisely because it exhibited both Mode I and Mode II types of knowledge production, and because it simultaneously used both print and electronic media in its manifestation. The chapter outlines the different SOEIS project communicative domains selected for analysis (print communication, electronic communication, publication behaviour, and mailing list dynamics), and details the methodology of each of the metric analyses performed in each stage of the dissertation. The chapter sought to combine a variety of metric approaches to deal with the central problematic of media centrality in academe; here the different metric approaches are interwoven with the different theoretical positions that make up the heuristic triad. In this way a general schema is outlined, and the study contextualized.
Finally, the chapter specifies several overriding assumptions of the dissertation;
including: ‘ICTs affect the ways that scientists communicate’, ‘metric analyses can help understand the print / electronic media difference’, and the ‘theoretical triad can be used to organize, contextualize, interpret and understand the results of the analysis’. A formal research question was then asked: “Given that media and knowledge production are mutually implicated phenomena, and that changes can be attributed in part to media difference, can metric analyses informed by theoretical grounding show these differences?” The Analysis section of the dissertation consists of four chapters. Each chapter has as its focus an empirical analysis of one of four isolated communicative domains of the SOEIS research project: print communication, electronic communication, journal publication, and mailing list environment, respectively. Chapter IV: Analysis of Print Communication examines the dynamics of print exchange in the context of the SOIES project and reveals patterns of codification of scientific information, networks of cognitive orientation, and the systemic dimensions of print word distribution.
Similarly, Chapter V: Analysis of Electronic Communication examines the dynamics of electronic writing as exhibited by the SOEIS community – here the results are compared with the results of the print analysis and are shown to exhibit different modes of scientific information codification, different networks of cognitive bias, and different overall word distributions.
Chapter VI: Analysis of Journal Publication examines the changes in the publication patterns of the SOEIS community on both the project level (article generation) and field level (the journal environment) and reveals both similarities and differences in the collective cognitive orientation of both the cited dimension (comprised of publications by the SOEIS community) and the citing dimension (those that cite SOEIS relevant materials) over the five year scope of analysis. Finally, in Chapter VII: Analysis of Mailing List Environment the network dynamics of eleven Science & Technology Studies and Self-Organization Theory oriented mailing lists are compared in terms of their individual threaded messaging behaviour to reveal that the SOEIS 272 related project mailing lists function like field level lists, despite exhibiting project level dynamics.
The final section of the dissertation serves to reflect upon the reviewed literature and the analyses performed, and it is comprised of two chapters. Chapter VIII: Integration & Conclusions establishes a central line of commensurability between the theoretic lens and empirical methods employed herein. The chapter directly reviews and answers the original research questions, and appraises the expectations. Finally, Chapter IX: Discussion & Relevance describes the challenges associated with integrating symbolic and modelling approaches, provides suggestions for future researchers in the field as well as suggests the design parameters of a modularized software program to aid in future analyses. The central question of the dissertation is thereby addressed and answered: do print and electronic media foster unique types of media environment, and are different modes of knowledge production and meaningful exchange thereby implied with each medium and its use? Yes, print and electronic media do foster distinct types of knowledge production, and it is in the context of their interrelation that the general import of media, and of media difference, becomes clear.
Samenvatting De uitbouw van elektronische communicatie in de academische wereld heeft de manier veranderd waarop wetenschappers samenwerken, hun onderzoek verrichten, en bijdragen aan de productie van kennis. Deze relatief recente veranderingen in de wijze van kennis-productie zijn door Gibbons (et. al. 1994) beschreven als een verschuiving van Mode I naar Mode II. Het gaat hier om een verschuiving van de productie van kennis in traditionele onderzoekscontexten, naar een omgeving waarin kennis voortgebracht wordt in bredere, transdisciplinaire, sociale en economische contexten. Soortgelijke argumenten werden aangedragen in twee belangrijke OECD publicaties (1996, 1997), waarin de ontwikkeling van het Internet beschouwd werd als een intrinsiek onderdeel van deze verschuiving in de dominante wijze van kennisproductie. De hypothese is dat het toenemende gebruik van elektronische media voor communicatie en de huidige veranderingen in de wijze waarop kennis wordt geproduceerd, ontwikkelingen zijn die elkaar wederzijds impliceren en versterken. Dit roept een vervolgvraag op: wat is dan de relatie tussen geschreven en elektronische media met betrekking tot de manier waarop kennis voortgebracht wordt in de wetenschappen? Deze theoretische vragen worden in de dissertatie empirisch onderzocht door gebruik te maken van scientometrische technieken.