This paper provides a qualitative investigation into the many ways in which expositionmediates exclusive knowledge about copyright and copyleft to lay-people and (semi-)expertswith different profiles, needs and goals, in different user situations. The analysis moves fromobjective exposition in the copyright article of the Oxford Dictionary of Law, primarily intendedfor inclusion and knowledge transfer, to institutional and non-institutional webpages at thefront end of Google search listings (pages from GOV.uk, Techopedia, MakeUseOf, the GNUProject). While highly ranking online pages are generally held to be objective, credible andauthoritative sources of knowledge, non-professional online dictionary articles may departfrom lexicographic practice and provide thin if incorrect content (e.g. the Techopediadictionary article). Moreover, the goals of self-promotion and persuasion may frameexpository content, which may communicate the ideology shared by author and principalorganization, and therefore take on a significant argumentative dimension (e.g. the GNU’spage What is Copyleft). Another point concerns the ability to reach out to the lay-person innew genres and media: the analysis suggests that popularization strategies and usabilityprinciples interact in diverse ways and to different extents in (multitype) expository textswritten for online communication, on pages which benefit from dilution of informationand recourse to expandable content down or outside the sitemap.
Jan 27, 2021