Third voice: Vox populi vox dei?

Michael Margolis, David Resnick

Abstract


Third Voice, a new "browser companion service" allows users to place annotations on any Web page they visit. These notes can afford an opportunity for netizens to use Third Voice to express their own views about content and communicate with each other. Advocates proclaim that this could this bring a rebirth of the democratic spirit of the Net, but Third Voice has proven to be very controversial. In its first few months it has mostly produced spam, graffiti, hyperlinks to pornographic sites and flame wars. Moreover, those who create the Web presentations that form the core of the new Internet resent a technology that, in effect, allows the audience to paint mustaches on their masterpieces.
We argue that the controversy is beside the point. Third Voice or similar browser companions, such as Gooey, are unlikely to amount to much because they require initiative on the part of users. The future of the Internet does not lie in recovering its more egalitarian and participatory past. It has become a mass medium used mostly by relatively passive consumers, and as such major content providers will dominate it.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5210/fm.v4i10.695



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