ESZTER HARGITTAI'S RESEARCH
Online Landscape: From Free-for-All To Commercial Gatekeeping [click for pdf copy of the
Community Practice in the Network Society: Local Actions/Global
Interaction. Edited by Peter Day and Doug Schuler. New York: Routledge.
Much of the literature on Internet use looks at the behavior of users in
isolation from institutional factors that also affect how people use the
medium. This chapter looks at how decisions at the organizational level
influence what people do online and more specifically, how they find their
way to information on the Web. Big point-of-entry sites make strategic
business decisions about how to organize and present content to users.
The results of search engines, the layout of portal sites, the way people
are directed from one site to another may all influence what type of
content people find and view online. Since big portal sites are driven by
a need to make a profit, their decisions on what content to feature are
not necessarily based on the quality and relevance of the Web sites they
present to users. Companies spend great financial resources on gaining
prominent positions on portals and in the results listings of search
engines. Thus, exposure seems to be increasingly connected to financial
means. What are the implications of this for not-for-profit Web sites?
Non-profits have fewer resources to spend on promoting their online
presence. After discussing the ways in which financial considerations
affect much of what content is easily accessible online, the paper
suggests ways in which non-profits can also gain exposure to relevant
audiences without large expenditures.
II. The Changing Online Landscape
III. The Implications of Commercial Interests Online
IV. Strategies for Non-Profits
Figure 1. The launch date of some major search engines and their
original institutional affiliations.
I would like to thank Paul DiMaggio for his insightful comments throughout
this project, Stan Katz for his ongoing support, and Peter Day, Carl Page
and Doug Schuler for invaluable suggestions. Generous support from the
Markle Foundation and the National Science Foundation (grants #SES9819907
and # IIS0086143) is kindly acknowledged. This work has also been
supported in part by a grant from the Russell Sage Foundation, and through
a grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts to the Center for Arts and Cultural
Policy Studies, Princeton University. I am also grateful to the Dan David
Foundation for its support.
This is a pre-print version of the book chapter to appear in
"Community Practice in the Network Society: Local Actions/Global
Interaction" Edited by Peter Day and Doug Schuler. New York: Routledge
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