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Browsing with Alexa: interrogating the impact of voice assistants as web interfaces

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journal contribution
posted on 07.12.2020, 11:21 by Simone Natale, Henry Cooke
Voice assistants such as Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant have recently been the subject of lively debates in regard to issues such as artificial intelligence, surveillance, gender stereotypes, and privacy. Less attention, however, has been given to the fact that voice assistants are also web interfaces that might impact on how the web is accessed, understood and employed by web users. This article aims to advance work in this context by identifying a range of issues that should spark additional reflections and discussions within communication and media studies and related fields. In particular, the article focuses on three key issues that have to do with longstanding discussions about the social and political impact of the internet: the role of web platforms in shaping information access, the relationship between production and consumption online, and the role of affect in informing engagement with web resources. Considering these issues in regard to voice assistants not only helps contextualize these technologies within existing debates in communication and media studies, but also highlights that voice assistants pose novel questions to internet research, challenging assumptions of what the web looks like as speech becomes one of the key ways to access resources and information online.

History

School

  • Social Sciences and Humanities

Department

  • Communication and Media

Published in

Media, Culture & Society

Volume

43

Issue

6

Pages

1000-1016

Publisher

SAGE Publications

Version

VoR (Version of Record)

Rights holder

© The authors

Publisher statement

This is an Open Access Article. It is published by Sage under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International Licence (CC BY-NC). Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/

Acceptance date

02/12/2020

Publication date

2020-12-24

Copyright date

2021

ISSN

0163-4437

eISSN

1460-3675

Language

en

Depositor

Dr Simone Natale. Deposit date: 5 December 2020