Portals, blogs and co.: the role of the Internet as a medium of science communication
While the use of the Internet for the exchange of scientific data was characterised by exclusivity during its pioneer era, the active employment of the medium today, by a broad social spectrum of users in the exchange of information, for dialogue and in the accumulation of knowledge, displays an almost unbounded inclusion. Blo and online encyclopaedias based on the 'Wikipedia' model have contributed to the formation of a marketplace in which the free expression of opinions and the relaying of information occur. Counted among the ideas which have been popularised in the wake of this phenomenon, “lay journalism” and the “wisdom of the masses” are seen to be integral to the new 'web 2.0'. Consequently, the ever-increasing information disseminated in the web has been diluted in quality and authenticity, resulting in the presentation of new challenges to online science journalism. In reference to the public debate surrounding green gene technology, the communications platform bioSicherheit.de, which receives more than one million visitors per year, will be examined as an example of an agent that retrieves and mobilises information on biological safety research and that successfully has established itself as an intermediary between the scientific community and the broader public.