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Lecture 9

INST 352 Lecture 9: INST352 Lecture 9: Voting on a Political Issue 2Exam


Department
Information Studies
Course Code
INST 352
Professor
Gigigan
Lecture
9

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INST352 Lecture 9: Voting on a Political Issue 2
Two weeks before the vote Graham joins some friends in a pub to watch the last in a series of three
televised debates about the decision. Because he missed the first two debates, and because this
one includes more audience interaction, he is very keen to see it. Plus, being in a public place is
another source of information: how will his friends and the customers react to what they hear? The
debate features six representatives from Scottish political parties and other organizations, in two
teams of three, with questions and comments from the studio audience. Amongst the boisterous
comments from pub customers, Graham has a hard time judging the arguments, particularly from
the anti-independence side. It becomes more obvious to him how much emotion is behind this
debate, particularly on the “yes” side. As a Twitter user Graham notes how certain topics brought up
during the debate result in an increase in Tweets from other users appearing on his smartphone. It
seems like many people value being “free,” at whatever cost. Graham suspects that some citizens in
favor of the status quo are less likely to speak up in public. His suspicions are confirmed on
September 18, when almost 85% of eligible voters go to the polls, and 55% of them vote against
independence. But Graham knows that the issue of independence is far from dead. (He voted “yes,”
by the way.)
This scenario takes place in a compressed time frame in which the seeker is both actively open to
seeking new information about the subject, and also hearing information through serendipity (like
that visit to the pub during the debate), over a period of two months. Like the first scenario it is
difficult to be comprehensive and rigorous about a complex topic of an everyday nature, so we rate
the overall thoroughness” of the search as low. Unlike the first scenario, Graham has just a few
weeks to make up his mind although it is easy to imagine that a lifetime of experience as a Scot
would also shape his decision. Graham is exposed to all forms of information regarding this
prominent topic: news broadcast, newspapers, magazines, the internet, social media, and many
personal conversations. In this vignette, input from individuals is highly influential in shaping both
opinions and acquisition of facts. Graham is someone who receives much of his information online,
but in this case also absorbs much from the people around him. If you find this type of topic
interesting, check out Section 10.2.1, and consider reading Marcella and Baxter (2000) about the
information needs of citizens, or Baxter and Marcella (2014) regarding online election campaigns.
This scenario takes place in a compressed time frame in which the seeker is both actively open to
seeking new information about the subject, and also hearing information through serendipity (like
that visit to the pub during the debate), over a period of two months. Like the first scenario it is
difficult to be comprehensive and rigorous about a complex topic of an everyday nature, so we rate
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