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Hypermedia Online Publishing: the Transformation of the Scholarly Journal


2.2.1 Initial assumptions

[Carley1995] provides the most complete list of the assumptions behind a 'constructural' theory of communication. The assumptions start in the most general way and gradually become more specific. Collected together, they can be summarised as shown in Table2-1.

Table 2-1: Assumptions behind a constructural theory of communication. Source: Based on [Carley1995]

1.

 

 

Individuals are continuously engaged in acquiring and communicating information

 

a.

 

Individuals, when interacting with other individuals, can communicate information

 

b.

 

Individuals, when interacting with other individuals, can acquire information

 

c.

 

Individuals can learn the newly acquired information, thus augmenting their store of knowledge

2.

 

 

What individuals know influences their choices of interaction partners

 

a.

 

Individuals select interaction partners on the basis of relative similarity and availability

 

b.

 

Individuals engage in action concurrently

3.

 

 

An individual's behaviour is a function of his or her current knowledge

 

a.

 

Individuals have both an information-processing capability and knowledge, which jointly determine each individual's behaviour

 

b.

 

Individuals have the same information-processing capabilities

 

 

i.

All agents within a particular class have the same information-processing capabilities

 

c.

 

Individuals differ in knowledge as each individual's knowledge depends on his or her particular sociocultural and historical background

 

 

i.

Agents differ in knowledge as each agent's knowledge depends on the agent's particular sociocultural-historical background and information-processing capabilities

 

d.

 

Individuals can be divided into types or classes on the basis of extant knowledge differences

 

 

i.

Agents can be divided into types or classes on the basis of extant differences in either or both their information-processing capabilities and knowledge

4.

 

 

Technology can alter the information-processing capabilities of existing agents

5.

 

 

Technology can, though need not, create artificial agents with unique information-processing capabilities

The focus of Carley's work is communication and so the technologies that alter the ways in which agents can process information are communications technologies (broadly defined). The salient and shared features of many such technologies are that they enable either mass-communication or one-to-many communication, and that they allow for unchanging and intact communication through space and time.

By examining the impact of these technologies, Carley then identifies three stylised classes of agents [Carley1995]:



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