The Affordances of the Information and Communication Universe, or Who is Behind the Mass Media

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Abstract


This article examines the specifics and perspectives of the information and communication universe theory for the analysis of the mass media. The aim is to explain the application of the concept of “affordance” in the context of media theory. The term was introduced by psychologist James J. Gibson to describe the specific “inviting” nature of objects and events, which, through affordances, suggest an algorithm for subsequent actions. From this point of view, the information and communication universe makes it possible to use it for some important purposes for the subjects of communication. However, the quality and options for implementing the possibilities of affordance depend on the goals, interests and skills of the subject who is trying to work with this affordance. To use an analogy, the same axe could “invite” some people to chop wood for an old lady, and others to use it as a weapon against her in order to seize her pension benefits. The thesis on the functional usefulness of the category “information and communication universe” for the analysis of processes in the media system is put forward. Traditional ideas about the specifics of the production and consumption of texts are corrected. The author analyzes the affordances of the Internet as a subsystem of the information and communication universe. It helps to explain the radical differences in the assessment of network digital technologies by representatives of different research schools. The article outlines further prospects for the identification and use of hidden affordances.


About the authors

Iosif M. Dzyaloshinsky

HSE University

Author for correspondence.
Email: idzyaloshinsky@hse.ru
2/8 Khitrovsky Pereulok, bldg 5, Moscow, 10100, Russian Federation

Doctor of Philology, Research Professor of the Faculty of Communications, Media, and Design

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