March 4, 1999

VSU professor untangles the World Wide Web

Dr. Barbara K. Kaye wants to make the Internet less enigmatic for a new generation of Web crawlers.

Students interested in the Internet and its impact on traditional mass media now have a comprehensive textbook to lead them through the tangle of the World Wide Web. Kaye, an assistant professor in Valdosta State University's Communication Arts Department, and co-author Dr. Norman J. Medoff of Northern Arizona University, recently completed The World Wide Web: A Mass Communication Perspective.

Kaye said this Web book is meant to give students a broader understanding of how traditional mass media are adapting to the Internet and how the media are using the Web as a promotional vehicle. The book is an in-depth look at Web content rather than a "how-to" HTML text.

"There is more to putting up a Web page than just learning the mechanics of the process," Kaye said. "Different Web pages serve different purposes and thus should be designed to attain different goals and objectives. It's especially important for mass communication students to understand how to use this new medium and to understand how it is being used by its audience."

Kaye began working on the book while teaching at Southern Illinois University. She created and taught her first Web class at SIU in the spring semester 1995. However, for the first two years of teaching, she had to put together packets of collected readings because there was not a textbook on the market covering the issues surrounding the Internet as a mass medium. Typical Internet books focus on HTML coding and Java-scripting or are simply guides to using the Web, Kaye said.

While at a conference in late 1996, Kaye mentioned her Web class and the lack of an appropriate textbook to Medoff who suggested she write the book. Medoff has authored several television production books, and being familiar with the process of textbook publishing and writing, offered to be a co-author of the Web book.

"The book was a tremendous amount of work because of all the changes and updates we needed to make," Kaye said. "Web technology, the Web itself, and audience uses are constantly changing. We couldn't just finish one chapter and be done with it, we had to go back to the chapters numerous times to update and change the information. For example, URLs change, statistics about Internet use and shopping are always being updated, and Web sites undergo face lifts," she added.

"We were fortunate that our publisher encouraged us to keep the book as current as possible and they sped up the publishing process at their end to accommodate all of the changes and updates," Kaye said.

The end result is an Internet textbook that is written specifically for mass communication, advertising, marketing and public relations students. The book contains information about Internet source credibility, online radio and television programming, cyber news delivery, online advertising and marketing, how to use the Internet for public relations and how to find jobs online. The book, from Mayfield Publishing Co., also applies mass communication theory to the Internet, examines legal issues such as copyright infringement, and discusses social issues such as Internet addiction.

Kaye has several years of experience conducting Internet research. Her studies have appeared in Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, Social Science Computer Review and New Jersey Journal of Communication. Additionally, she has co-authored three chapters that have appeared in scholarly books about the Internet and politics, and has presented Internet related papers and conducted Web workshops at communication conferences.

In addition to her Internet research, Kaye has published several mass communication related articles in scholarly journals, and has presented numerous competitive papers at academic conferences such as National Communication Association, Broadcast Education Association and International Communication Association.

Kaye holds a Ph.D. in mass communication from Florida State University, an M.S.B.A. from San Francisco State University, and a B.S. in journalism from California Polytechnic State University.

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