Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Barlow Chp 2

In Com430z, I was assigned to read Aaron Barlow’s chapter “The Blog in Society” from the book “Blogging America: The New Public Sphere”.

In this chapter Barlow takes a look at just how effective the blogosphere (blogging community) has become within our society today. In doing this a focus is placed on various elements of the growing relationship between the blogosphere and society. Of these relationships it’s shown how the blog presents certain concerns of security for those whom are using it. Some of these security issues included harassment and plagiarism. These issues have come to rise due to the bloggers (blog users) anonymity within these social networks. People violate the norms of communication simply because they feel no one can find them or suspect it’s them doing so. Barlow uses an example of a blogger named Kathy Sierra whom encountered this very problem when a few people decided to post anonymous threatening comments on her blog. Kathy’s story is just one of the many horror stories that sweep the blogging world every day. It’s also stated that a number of people have had their ideas stolen and used by people within the blogosphere without any acknowledgements. In an attempt to combat this growing problem Barlow discusses how some bloggers like Tim O’Reilly have banded together to create a “Blogging Code of Conduct”. This code of conduct would help to eliminate some of the problems that have emerged within the blogosphere. It would also help to alleviate some of the concern many new bloggers feel about making their information visible to the public. It could even lead to more people becoming involved in the blogosphere because they would feel a lot more protected.

After reading this chapter I have become very aware of how fast the blogosphere is growing. I have also noticed just how difficult it has become to regulate the new environment effectively. This chapter does an excellent job at pointing out why some users stray from blogs and why others violate it. I like how the chapter gives great insight into what can be done to combat these worries that many users face with the blog. I also strongly think that what Barlow brings up in this chapter could be very useful to the blogging community if they want to see it expand in the future. All in all I really feel that with the emergence of the code of conduct the blog could actually become a very useful medium of communication.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Essay # 3 Information Quality Control

“Throughout our childhood we are taught to pay attention to books- read remember, and repeat what we find in them.”(Tensen 69 ^Para. 3) However, it’s becoming more and more prevalent that many are not relying on books they are instead going to the Internet as their main source of information. This new found allure of the Internet has managed to snatch the spotlight the trusty book once held but this medium presents the huge problem of information quality control. Due to this mediums forever growing database a vast amount of the information many rely on is often unverified opinions which could be false and biased. To understand this problem of quality information on the Internet I will use this medium as the main source of obtaining information for my final research assignment on the Web 2.0 application You Tube. The information gathered here will look at my process of searching the web as well as a brief evaluation of some search engines I used and why. In the end it will be shown just how and why it is so important to pick one website over the other.

When I started my research I quickly decided that I would select one search database I am very familiar with and two others I don’t often use. In doing this I hoped I would gain a better understanding of some different search engines and compare them to the one I use most often. The search engines I used were Yahoo, Google, and Ask which happen to receive significant boast and support from many Internet users nationwide. The first search engine used was Yahoo and discovered a number of things about I never noticed prior to the research even though I use it almost everyday. One thing in specific was Yahoo’s ability to present information about the top things searched on the engine that day. To supply this information seems quite useful because who doesn’t want to know what the most searched topic is. Another key element Yahoo has that I personally like is its ability to provide an advanced search to help better pinpoint what you are actually looking for. Besides Yahoo, I also used Google which is said to be the most popular search engine selected by many computer users. The initial use of Google’s search engine seemed very effective for the information in which I was searching. I found that upon searching for specific information the search engine also showed some of the most recent news articles relating to my search. I would definitely use this search engine more often now for this very reason. The last search engine I used was Ask which is another well known search engine amongst the Internet cyber world. This search engine was very interesting in comparison to the others because it was sort of question and answer oriented. (i.e. what is you tube?, who created you tube?) Although I liked this style of asking questions when searching, I didn’t really trust the results I received. I took a lot of the information as the opinions of certain people and answers which needed to be backed up. All in from the three search engines I used I found that Yahoo was the most effective and reliable to me.

While searching for information on my topic I took some time to evaluate the quality of the sources I found. To help in the evaluation process I relied on a reading by Bonnie L Tensen entitled “Research strategies for a digital age” which highlighted some of the ways to determine the quality of information on the Net. To verify my sources I will first look at the sources that would most likely be useful in the final essay then focus on the other sources I wouldn’t use. The websites I have chosen as useful were carefully scrutinized by using Tensen’s methods of determining credibility. According to Tensen in order for Internet sources to be proven credible one must be able to determine the purpose, source, intended audience, date of publication, appearance, and reputation. The most credible sources I will be using come from a libraries electronic database Lexis Nexis. These articles include “Inside the Promise & Peril of You Tube” by Brian Morrissay, “You Tube: You Created the Content, Now Sell the Ads.” by Abbey Klaassen, and “You Tube’s Troubles” by Duncan Mcloed. Besides the credibility being accurately determined by using Tensen’s method, I also feel the reason I trusted these sources more then others is because I found them within the Library database. The other credible sources obtained came from websites like You Tube, Crunchbase, Mashable, San Franciso Chronicle and Wikipedia. I again used Tensen’s method as a benchmark but also relied heavily on my own confidence towards the sources before using them. I had to make sure each of them was effectively useful. After finding the sources I trusted I realized that there were a few sources which didn’t make the cut. These sources were either littered with ads/pop-ups (appearance), rarely used (reputation), and mostly lacking a purpose. These sources were found on Dig and Answers; both sites used a unique method of a question asking and answering style. Although this style is quite common, what I quickly came to realize was that they were people’s opinions. These opinions may be accurate but the only way to determine this would be to check another site.

In conclusion, from this assignment substantial evidence has been supplied to help me understand some of the proper techniques necessary for researching on the Internet effectively. Along this process I have not only learned how to search for specific information effectively but also where to search(databases/search engines). In taking the time to research various websites/search engines like Google and Dig to determine their quality I have gained an increased awareness of just how much information is on the Net and why it all can't be trusted. Whether this information useful or not it has become clear that the Internet indeed could someday surpass the usefulness of a printed book in a dusty library with the simply click of a mouse. However I stress the word could since as stated earlier by Tensen our society today is taught at a young age to rely heavily on books. With that said it could also be true that tomorrow's society(next generations) will have the same ideals for the Internet especially with the growing advancements of the medium as whole.

Lexis Nexis/Library:

1.Morrissay, Brian. (2007). Inside the Promise & Peril of You Tube. Adweek.
2.Klaassen, Abbey. (2008) “You Tube: You created the Content, Now Sell the Ads.” Advertising Age.
3.Mcloed, Duncan. (2007). You Tube’s Troubles. Financial Mail.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


In Com430z, I was assigned to read Michael Zimmer’s article, “The externalities of search 2.0: the emerging privacy threats when the drive for the perfect search engine meets Web 2.0”.The article takes a look into the growing Web 2.0 technologies and how they could present a problem of privacy for the computer user. In the article Zimmer specifically looks at the emergence of what he calls the “perfect search engine” to aid in understanding the use of these Web 2.0 technologies. This “perfect search engine” is said to be able to deliver intuitive results based on user’s past searches and general browsing history”(Zimmer, 2008;Pitkow,2002; Teevan,2005). This would enable people to receive more information that is particular to them and what they may like when searching throughout the internet. It’s also shown how the new Web 2.0 technologies have allowed for the user to become a lot more user-generated in comparison to their Web 1.0 predecessors. It was said that these technologies would blur the lines between user and creator similar to that of Wikipedia which allows users to enter their own information into a huge database for everyone’s viewing pleasure. Zimmer goes on to highlight some of the threats that have emerged with these Web 2.0 technologies on the rise. Amongst these threats discussed, the one that stands out as most important was privacy which of course is no new problem to the Internet user. In the article it’s seen just how much ones privacy is invaded when using these new technologies. It’s especially seen with Web 2.0 programs like Flickr (huge photo database) and YouTube (huge media database) which allow almost anybody to view a user’s photos or videos at the click of a mouse. Zimmer also expresses how these technologies would also enable the government to obtain information from companies (Yahoo/Google) about user’s activity on the internet and use it against them. This tracking of users Internet activity is defined by Zimmer as datavallience.

After reading this article by Zimmer I have come to realize a number of things about these new Web 2.0 technologies. Not only are they becoming more user friendly but they are also allowing for one’s privacy to be violated unknowingly. While I strongly feel that this problem could be fixed with the help of some nifty computer genius’s, I also understand that it will be a problem that will take much effort. Besides programmers taking an initiative to provide privacy I also think that users should be a lot more conscious of what they publish on the Internet because who knows where it could turn up. People are becoming too comfortable with these Web 2.0 technologies posting personal videos, photos, and etc. thus failing to realize the trouble it present for them in the future.