The Ethos of Information

Alan Liu

in The Laws of Cool

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print October 2004 | ISBN: 9780226486987
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226487007 | DOI:
The Ethos of Information

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This chapter presents the results of a survey of “cool” and related terms on the World Wide Web using major search engines, conducted on July 6–7, 1998. There is clearly much more cool on the web in the form of self-declared cool pages, references to other cool pages, and general appreciation of things cool than might be expected for a word whose usage is non-functional. Second, the raw totals understate the case considerably because cool collects disproportionately in those parts of web pages that have premium value: in the encoded page title, the links on the page, and frequently even the URL or domain name. Third, cool exploits its position close to the bone of networked information to express information culture's awareness of itself. These results show that cool is an ethos or “character” of information—a way or manner of living in the world of information.

Keywords: cool; web pages; networked information; information culture; ethos; World Wide Web

Chapter.  5135 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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