In recent years an increasing number of users have gone to the Internet in search of health-related contents in online publications and platforms, especially in Europe and the US. Moreover, the one-way, sequential relationship these users once had with the Web has gradually become more multidirectional and instantaneous.
But we can also distinguish more clearly between two kinds of user. On the one hand, the development of new media and the growth of platforms for the exchange of specialized information indicate that online multimedia resources and interactivity are being used to serve the purposes of specialist users in areas like biomedicine and health; and on the other, the general public's trend towards greater social awareness and mutually supportive behaviour means that scientific and health-related information of a more general nature is also prominent in the social networks.
This paper examines how different sectors of the public negotiate scientific contents, especially health-related contents, by taking European and North American statistical data to illustrate typical user profiles and habits. It also maps out the current offering of online science and health-related media as this is found in general communication media, specialist media and Web 2.0-style products like blogs and co-creative projects. This can explain the different directions that general and specialist user groups are taking, even while they are now interconnected by the new technologies; and it can also illustrate the transformation of our Internet architecture and the functionality of its media.