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Title: Online readership popularity : examining the impact of technology and media-embedded characteristics in the context of weblogs
Other Titles: Wang shang du zhe liu xing du : guan yu ji shu he mei jie nei zai te zheng zai bo ke huan jing xia de yan jiu
網上讀者流行度 : 關於技術和媒介內在特徵在博客環境下的研究
Authors: Du, Songhua (杜松華)
Department: Department of Information Systems
Degree: Doctor of Philosophy
Issue Date: 2008
Publisher: City University of Hong Kong
Subjects: Blogs -- Design.
Notes: CityU Call Number: TK5105.8884 .D83 2008
vii, 140 leaves : ill. 30 cm.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--City University of Hong Kong, 2008.
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 118-140)
Type: thesis
Abstract: Readership popularity, the number of readers or visitors to a website, has been an important proxy for the success of many emerging online interactive media. However, attaining and retaining popularity is difficult, given the exponential growth of new web properties and the hype of competition among them. One possible approach to this problem is to enhance the competitiveness of web presence. So far, researchers in the area of web design emphasize on technological issues or usability studies. Media adoption research, however, has been primarily focused on social influence explanations. There is lack of a unified theoretical approach in guiding the design of online interactive media as well as in predicting their successful adoption and use, from both the technological and social orientations. More specifically, few studies have considered the importance of media-embedded contextual cues in influencing online users’ behavioral change and decision making, and how technology artifacts can help enhance the effectiveness of these environmental cues. Drawing upon the media success literature and related social cognition theories, this dissertation establishes a techno-social model for achieving online readership popularity, accounting for the impacts of both technology-dependent and media-embedded characteristics. In particular, the research model hypothesizes that readership popularity of online interactive media is positively associated with interior navigability (the ease for users to navigate within a website), person interactivity (the ability of a medium to facilitate person-to-person interaction), source credibility or “believability”, and content freshness or “up-to-dateness”. While interior navigability and person interactivity are key technology-dependent characteristics of media, content freshness and source credibility are identified as influential contextual cues that are embedded in the content of media. In addition, the model further argues that content freshness places the role of a mediator in the relationship between interior navigability and readership popularity, as well as the relationship between person interactivity and readership popularity. The proposed research model was tested by an in-depth investigation of the phenomenon in the context of weblogs, a highly representative online interactive medium. The study mainly utilizes content analysis to systematically and objectively quantify content-embedded media characteristics (i.e. the independent and mediating variables) from 100 sampled weblog sites (one-month data), and matches up these media characteristics with their corresponding readership popularity scores (i.e. the dependent variable) collected from a publically available secondary source. The statistical results strongly supported the research model and hypotheses. Key empirical findings were consistent with the qualitative evidence gathered from 28 expert practitioners’ responses to an email survey. Implications of the findings for both research and practice are discussed in the dissertation.
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