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IMAGINING THE PUBLIC: THE CASE OF COASTAL TOWN (CT) K J WARD, RESEARCH FELLOW SCHOOL OF COMMUNICATIONS DUBLIN CITY UNIVERSITY katie. [email protected] ie
AIM AND OBJECTIVES Aim: • To examine domestic use of the internet as a means to explore dichotomous relationships - the public and private spheres; the local and global contexts and ‘new’ and ‘old’ media. Objectives: · To examine whether domestic internet use allows new kinds of interactive engagement and participation in public life · To examine how participants are using the internet alongside existing broadcast or ‘old’ media.
METHODS • Collection of relevant statistical data relating to Ireland CT • Ethnographic research carried out in CT, where research time has been spent in local institutions and with community groups (e. g. anti-landfill campaign and swimming pool project) • In-depth interviews with domestic users and key informants) • Online Ethnography • Survey • Content analysis- local newspapers, community related information • Mapping the ‘Online Town’
THE ONLINE TOWN? Lack of Interest: • I have never accessed them [CT sites] – I would if I had a reason to (04/01). • ‘Cos I live here I wouldn’t. I don’t rely on it [the internet] for CT stuff…(03/01) Instrumental: • We used it [the internet] to move house and get more information on Ireland; looked at estate agents. We were aware of what Ireland was all about before we came over. We looked at CT websites and showed the children what CT was like (02. 01).
IMAGINING THE PUBLIC: THE PRINT MEDIA • Public communication: – Dominance of print media – Face-to-face interaction I know that at a local level, I know that sporting organisations are using it more. Two cycling associations are using it more. People feed back into it. There are other ways of getting information and they [magazines, newspapers, leaflets] are still efficient.
COMMUNITY INTEREST GROUPS • Historical Society – Web site – Local news (CT News) – Face-to-Face meetings • Reading group, Theatre group – Local news – Face-to-Face
COMMUNITY ACTION GROUPS • Swimming pool Association – Print Media – Face-to-Face meeting – (Website) • Anti-Landfill campaign – Print media – Face-to-Face
COMMUNITY WEBSITES One of the big difficulties most people have is marketing the web address… You can’t just rely on people to fall upon it as they’re doing a search for CT, you know, you’d have to actually, to make sure that everybody who needed to see it, saw it, you’d have to put a note in the door saying there’s a website here…. You would have to do a lot of marketing to let people know that the website exists… You couldn’t do that through a website! You would have to do that through a newsletter or a newspaper or word of mouth (02/01).
ANTI-LANDFILL CAMPAIGN • The Campaign – Print media – Face-to-Face meeting Participant perception: As far as I’m concerned it’s [community action website] a great idea, but I would never look at that site, so if I’m the typical internet user then the website is a waste of time. . . It would need to be advertised in print, that might trigger something. Lets take the dump issue I would get information from the newspapers, it would never strike me to look at the internet. I have an interest and I would rely on the print media and the radio and TV (22/03/01).
SUMMARY • Print media dominates public communication for community interest and action groups • Minority introduced websites as an addition, but face-to-face remains valued • Participant perception: print media remains adequate
CONCLUSIONS • First generation writing on cyberculture • Debates surrounding the public sphere