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The Concise Encyclopedia of Communication by Wolfgang Donsbach

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Introduction

This Concise Encyclopedia of Communication presents an authoritative and up-to-date account of the evidence in the dynamic and interdisciplinary field of communication, written by the best scholars in the field and developed from the highly praised twelve-volume International Encyclopedia of Communication, first published in 2008.

Wikipedia or Communipedia? The Value of Authority

Even in academic circles one can often hear the argument that the time of encyclopedias is over. Wikipedia and the search results of Google or Yahoo have it all anyway – and they draw from different sources, thus operating in a more pluralistic way. Indeed, Wikipedia and search engines are exciting steps forward in the documentation and sometimes even the creation of our knowledge about the world. One can look up almost everything on the Internet, and many scholars, including myself, use these tools many times a day, e.g. for learning the meaning of a foreign term, the lifecourse of an important figure, or even the basic content of an unfamiliar theory.

But when it comes to topics that are more important, for one’s life or one’s work, topics that are crucial or even risky, we must address the question of which source we can rely on – be it with news about important issues or any other kind of knowledge. On the web things look pretty much alike, often fancy, and presumably ‘authoritative’. There is no visual and haptic authority against which they can be judged as there was in the pre-digital ...

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