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The Collaborative Research Network Interactive Science - Internal Scholaraly Communication via Digital Media

Wien Meeting 2008Many of the new information and communication technologies, among these the World Wide Web, were originally conceived and developed in the academic field. E-mail, web portals, digital presentations, newsletters, discussion lists, digital libraries and repositories, more recently weblogs and collaborative formats of text production (‘Wikis’), are routinely used by scientists today. ‘New media’ affect all areas and phases of the process of knowledge management – from the generation and primary distribution to the processing, publication and storage of scientific knowledge.

Two aspects are characteristic of the present stage of development. On the one hand, different forms of use of digital science communication are being tested and dynamically developed, from which a growing pool of communication formats is arising that can be used by future providers and users. On the other hand, we perceive different communication cultures in respect of the form and amount of use of this potential, which are related to the specific culture of science of particular subjects or a particular field of disciplines. These different cultures of science also lead to differences in the assessments of the potentials, the barriers and the problems of digital scholarly communication.


Dimensions of Networking

The collaborative research network Interactive Science combines perspectives from linguistics, media studies, information science, sociology, the history of science and drama studies in a multidisciplinary view on the relevant phenomena. It focuses on the interactive potential of information and communication technologies with respect to two aspects under investigation: the collaborative and the performative dimension of scholarly communication.

Within the last few years, science studies emphasized the communication of scientific results to third parties (politics, economy etc.) or in teaching environments (e-learning). In the present research network, it is the communication among peers by means of new media that forms the centre of interest. As interactive media provide effective and still underestimated potentials for the generation and distribution of knowledge in intrascience communication as well as in communication between scientists and the science-oriented public, ‘Cyberscience’ (Nentwich 2003) establishes a key topic in the humanities.

The working hypothesis of the research network is as follows: Interactive Science is able to convert technical potentials into social reorganisations in which the collaborative and performative aspects of scientific activity emerge more considerably by reinforcing each other. This hypothesis will be critically examined by means of three interconnected empirical studies on multi-media presentations, digitally mediated lectures and scientific controversies in Internet communities and a directly related project of more general scope, focussing on recent evolutional trends of 'Cyberscience', also investigating aspects of the history of science.

The Centre for Media and Interactivity (ZMI) will play a central role in this network by taking over coordinating tasks and contributing its experience in the communication of scientific knowledge to the public. Cooperation with the partner institutions is supported by such innovative forms of scholarly communication which themselves also form the object of study in this combination of projects.




  • Subproject I: Collaborative Knowledge Management and Democratization of Science
  • Subproject II: Scholarly Presentations - Textuality, Structure and Reception
  • Subproject III: Lecture and Their Digital Documentation and Distributation
  • Subproject IV: Scientific Information, Critique and Controversy in Digital Media