Monday, December 1, 2008


Blogging is easily becoming one of the most popular trends of the internet. Its implications and uses are numerous. People are blogging now more than ever before with estimation of users reaching approximately 100 million. Blogs are easily becoming the wave of communication for the future. Personal journals, diaries, news, fashion, discussions, updates, and sports are all common examples of blogs. Bloggers use these various different styles of blogs for many different purposes, none better than the other. Blogging has become for many, personal, or where information is found, and for others a form of voyeurism, where you look into and are intrigued by the lives of others. Blogging serves many purposes and is different for all who use it.

Originating in the late 1990’s blogging is quickly becoming one of the most useful and influential tools of the Web. The origin of the technology is the source of some controversy since its origin is not completely clear. According to CNet news, one of the first bloggers was Winer “…a pioneer of Web syndication techniques and editor of Scripting News, which launched on April 1, 1997”. He claims that “…Scripting News "bootstrapped the blogging revolution" and that it is the "longest currently running Web log on the Internet". He also makes claims that "the first blogs were inspired" by Scripting News”.

Blogging has evolved from its early days, used primarily by technologically savvy computer users. Today’s bloggers are people of many different backgrounds. There is no one particular type of blogger. People of all ages can participate; all that is required is a computer and connection to the internet. Sites such as, have made the process simpler than ever imagined. is Google’s own blogging site that sets users up with their own blog with three easy steps that literally takes minutes. Detailed step by step directions allow even people with little to no experience with a computer to create their very own blog. The personal blog has many purposes. Some use it as a diary, or online journal. It is kept by one user who posts to it as frequently as desired. The controls can be set to varying level s of privacy to allow as many or as few people to read it. Some people share very intimate, private details on their blog, while others use their blog to express simple thoughts or ideas they may have. The personal blog varies from user to user, however one thing remains prevalent, the blogger is in control. They choose the topic, they choose when and what they wish to blog. Followers of blogs can post comments to blogs, usually a reaction to a posting by the bloggers. This allows for communication to reach a level of never before. Another common use of blogs is to keep friends and family up to date on occurrences in one’s life. Posting to a blog is far easier than calling each individual, or emailing each person that one may want to share news with. People interested in keeping in touch with one another can frequently do so with the convenience that blogging offers.

Blogging is also commonly used for entertainment purposes. There is a blog out there somewhere for each and every topic imaginable, catering to the needs of users everywhere. Some people turn to blogs to catch up on the latest celebrity gossip. For example, Crush is a blog that keeps its followers up to date on the latest details of the lives of young celebrities in Hollywood. It is followed primarily by young users, teenagers to be exact; however there are others of varying age groups. People check in daily and often make comments to the blogs, as if they were responding to the celebrities themselves. This is an example of blogging for entertainment purposes.

Some blogs are for informative purposes. People seeking information on almost any topic can search for a blog that allows them to post a question and be answered by another user. Often times, one can find a blog where someone else had the same question and you can be informed simply by reading the replies they received.

Blogs have also had political implications. Blogs can help or hurt political campaigns. It was said in the New York Times that “In March, political experts said, Malaysia’s bloggers helped influence elections, contributing to the biggest upset that the governing party, the United Malays National Organization, had suffered since independence in 1957. For the first time in decades, it held fewer than two-thirds of the seats in Parliament, and it lost control of 5 of the 13 states” (Mydans, 2008). There is free reign over what is written on blogs and what is read on a blog can influence choices made by its readers. There is also controversy associated with blogging in relation to freedom of speech. The question remains, how far is too far, how much is too much? In America people have the freedom of speech as one of their rights, however with blogging being an international sensation, some bloggers are coming across boundaries. In places around the world where the government in charge puts censors on what is said and alters what is heard by its citizens, the internet is where people who want to be heard can turn. The New York Times reports that in Malaysia “…bloggers are becoming a Fifth Estate, challenging the government’s monopoly on information in Singapore, evading censors in Vietnam, and influencing events in places like Thailand, Cambodia and China” (Mydans, 2008). The internet and blogging has created a new outlet for the government to try and control in the regions were freedom of speech does not prevail, however due to the amazing capabilities of both, the governments that want to take control are having increased difficulty in doing so.

Blogging is also a source of controversy in the field of journalism. Many question whether those who blog are worthy of being considered journalists. Some argue yes for several reasons. If you turn to any popular newspapers website today, there is a blog section. Often these are the same people writing the articles for the paper itself. Sometimes bloggers are people that are former journalists. If followers of blogs turn to blogs for information, some would argue that there is no difference between a blogger and a journalist as they are one in the same. However, on the other end of the spectrum, some people view blogs as personal and entertainment, not at all credible sources of information. For this reason, bloggers are considered simply bloggers, and journalists are those who write for established sources. Blogs vary in their tones and the level of writing they have, so this can also be of consideration when arguing the blogger versus the journalist. Blogs that are written very casually, in using computer terms such as LOL, to express laughing out loud might be considered written by a blogger.

Blogs are evolving on a level that has potential to change our society. Bloggers can focus on topics that may not be as prevalent in the main stream news. Blogs are rapidly growing and its audiences are as well. Followers of blogs are often inspired to start their own, leading to more and more users of the technology. Blogs are free and can be accessed at any time by anyone. They are current and constantly updated. They are personalized and often represent their author. Blogs are so popular and effective because they give those who may not have an outlet for their opinions a voice. It’s the first technology of its kind to give people those capabilities. If you put a thought out there, someone will read it, and possibly talk back. Bloggers have the chance to communicate with people across the world as well as someone right down the block. There are no constraints on blogs which is possibly a cause of their popularity. Bloggers are not afraid to say the right thing, and don’t have to. They are not being monitored and have no one to impress, except their audience, if they wish. Many writers prefer blogging because of the freedom from advertising executives that you might face when trying to sell a magazine for instance. Andrew Sullivan, a contributor to TIME says “It’s incredibly liberating” of blogging. People today blog for so many reasons; to stay in touch, to educate and learn, to express opinions, to be heard. Blogging can be summed up in one word: communication. It is rapidly becoming the most effective and convenient way to hear others and be heard as well. Blogging is becoming the way of the future. There is the possibility of the extinction of the personal diary, the telephone, the mailing system is blogging continues on its path to take over the world of communication.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Notes on Blogging

Before this class, I've heard of blogs, but never experienced them myself. With the requirements of this class revolving so often around blogging, the Web 2.0 medium I have chosen, I have become quite comfortable with them. I’ve looked through several different types of blogs. The one that I see and use most often is that blog for our class postings. When I started this class, I was very weary of all my personal work being placed on a blog, for all to see. Now that I’ve gotten used to blogging and seen firsthand its implications, I feel that I shouldn’t have worried at all. I look at my blog now as a place to display my work, and its work that I’ve put a great deal of effort to, so why not share?

I’ve also seen some blogs that are for entertainment purposes. People turn to them to get their latest celebrity gossip. It’s kind of as if the advances in our technology have helped the blog to evolve and take the place of tabloid magazines. This is also the case with newspapers. Very often people are turning to blogs to get their world news.

Some people use blogs as a diary or journal. I find this to be very interesting. Very often, what one puts in their diary or journal are their private thoughts. With that being said, the idea of blogging those thoughts opens a whole new world of possibilities. What was once private is out there for all to see. Some choose to make their blogs completely private, for their own personal use, but that is odd to me. Why not just put it in your own journal, why blog then? Some people also blog to share their news and or thoughts with others. I observed some blogs in search through the blogosphere where people just blog their thoughts and emotions. It’s kind of an attention seeking device. I found this horrifyingly disturbing blog where this girl was openly anorexic and bulimic. She talked about how she went about being that way, and how disgusted she was with herself for eating a carrot. The saddest thing about it was the people that were offering tips on how to have an eating disorder, asking her for advice, and encouraging her to continue with it. Not one comment on how to get better, or live a healthier life.

I think that the most practical use of blogging would be to update people on your life. The birth of a child, a promotion at work, or an engagement are all examples of the type of news one might post to their personal blog. I feel that you cannot always trust what you read from a blog, because in a way, they are personal opinions. So that is why I enjoy the personal blog that is intended to connect people with one another.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Shirky Reading

With the increase of social networking sites and the advancement of the technologies that foster them, the likelihood of increasing ones contacts is inevitable. Sites such as Facebook, MySpace, and Internet relay chats allow us to be interconnected with one another like never before. As discussed by Shirky, author of Here comes everybody: The power of organizing without organizations, the chances of coincidently meeting a friend of friend are more likely thanks to the ways that these social networking sites work. There are several factors that contribute to the advancement of our connections with one another. This phenomenon is referred to as “Small World networks” playing on the common saying when one meets someone that they share a friend with “what a small world”.

The concept of “…homophily, or the grouping of like with like” (p.213) is an explanation to the so called “coincidences” that we see all the time when analyzing our social connections with one another. If thought about logically, it only makes sense that these small world networks would allow connection between people with similarities and shared interests. For example, Facebook in its early days allowed you to join a network that consisted of only fellow schoolmates. By only being connected to people that attend the same school, the pool of people from which to choose to interact with narrows greatly.

Another factor contributing to the success of small world networks is the idea of how closely connected they actually are. According to Shirky, “…large groups are sparsely connected” (p.215). This means that there is a greater likelihood of connecting with others who you might not know directly when the connections are loose. This allows the connection to grow, whereas if everyone literally knew everyone, there would be no room to connect with others.

The internet and its amazing advancements have led people to experience one another like never imagined. For instance, Facebook know has a feature where it offers people you may know and how you are connected to one another. These sites may be used for socializing, meeting potential life partners, expressing ideas, getting help and advice, and even for political campaigns. So the question remains, is it really a small world out there? With the technology out there today, connecting people like never before, the answer is no, it is not.

Shirky, Clay. (2008). Here comes everybody: The power of organizing without organizations (chapter 9). New York: Penguin.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Blogging Essay 4

Technology today is increasingly becoming more and more advanced. With these great advancements come changes to the way that we live. One popular trend in our society today is blogging. People are staying connected with one another like never before with this spectacular feature of the internet. Everyone has potential to get their thoughts, ideas and opinions into cyberspace for anyone with access to a computer to see. Although such a growing technology, blogging varies from site to site. The idea that different people use blogs for many different purposes bring to light the question asked by Barlow, author of Blogging America, why do we blog? As a society, blogging is definitely used as an outlet for many different purposes. Some blogs are for entertainment, some are for news, and others are used by some as a personal journal or diary. But Barlow’s question remains, why blog, and where is this phenomenon going to lead?

In my observations preparing for this essay, I chose to follow a blog titled Crush, which I found on the homepage for Yahoo. I chose to follow this blog for several reasons, the main reason being that I found the topic to be amusing. The main focus of Crush, was celebrity gossip, a guilty pleasure for many, myself included. I also chose this blog because it is run by Yahoo, a site which I trust. This does not mean that I take all I read there as coming from a reputable source; however I think that the information is of better quality than what I might have found on a personal blog. I also found the layout of the blog to be quite attractive. It consisted of bright colors, pictures, and videos to support the content on the blog. I think that layout of a blog plays an extremely important role in the popularity of the blog. With the millions of blogs out there for people to follow, bloggers must catch the attention of the followers. A first impression can be everything.

When reading Crush, I disappointedly found myself getting bored. Perhaps after submerging myself into the blogging world of celebrity gossip, I discovered how meaningless and pathetic the topic actually is. However, for the purpose of the assignment, I stayed with it, and actively participated and observed. With the focus being on young celebrities, the main audience of the blog is people of about the same age. I only make this assumption based on the quality of comments I read. Those who commented either took personal offense to people disliking their favorite celebrities, or gave support to the celebrities through the blog, as if they were reading it themselves. People attacked each other based on comments made, as I witnessed firsthand for a comment I made. In following this blog I came to the realization that a big reason some blog is for entertainment purposes. I guess that by some standards this could be considered a source of news, if one just needed to know that a Jonas brother and Taylor Swift broke up. However, for the most part, this is a great example of people using blogging for entertainment purposes.

There are however several other purposes for blogging. People keep personal blogs to update their friends and loved ones. In the article “Shout into the wind and it shouts back”, by Lori Kendall, she gave an example of a man blogging the news of his newborn child, rather than emailing all that he wanted to notify. This shows that blogging is used by some as a means to stay connected with others and share personal information. Some people use their blogs as a personal diary or journal. Thoughts that one want to express are blogged, along with ideas and feelings. This form of blogging for many has taken the place of writing in a journal by hand. However, the idea that there is a potential audience when blogging might change the tone in which the blogger writes.

Blogging has even advanced the education experience. This class is a perfect example. All writing assignments are posted to a public blog, for the entire world to see. We as a class are learning to write for an audience, and saving some trees while we’re at it. It might not be too long before all professors adopt this idea of posting work to a blog.

So where is this idea of blogging taking us? Blogging is taking us to the future. The world is rapidly becoming more and more technologically advanced. Blogging is going to be taking over the world soon, in a good way. People need outlets to express themselves, and have the opportunity to do so by blogging. So Barlow’s question of why people blog has numerous answers. Blogging is personal. Blogging is educational. Blogging is therapeutic. Blogging is entertainment. There is no one answer to the question, the answer lies on the user. What can blogging do for you, anything.

Works Cited
Barlow, A. (2008). Blogging America The new public sphere. Westport, CT: Praeger.

Kendall, Lori. (2007). "Shout into the wind, and it shouts back.” Identity and interactional tensions on LiveJournal. First Monday, 12. Retrieved on August 21, 2008 from

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Day 1
I chose to observe and participate in a blog about celebrity gossip. I chose this topic for a few reasons. I know that although there are so many more important topics out there, celebrity gossip is sort of a guilty pleasure for many. I knew that the topics would be up to date, and that people would have a lot to say. Yahoo blogs has a section called Crush, where the main focus is “Hollywood’s next generation”. Users have the opportunity to catch up on all the latest gossip around their favorite celebrities and comment on the stories they read. I noticed in my observations the tension surrounding people whose comments do not agree with each other or the author of the blog. This blog in particular has pictures of the content of the blog. For example on November 4th, 2008, a blog praising celebrity Chris Brown also displayed the music video that was discussed for all to see. The blog was written by Sydney, however, there was no last name. I wonder if the semi anonymous author is a policy by the company, or if the bloggers are had higher hopes in the journalism field and are ashamed of the meaningless topics they write about.


A blog revolved around the breakup of two young celebrities, Taylor Swift and Joe Jonas gave fans the chance to take the side of their favorite celebrity. Some users even used it as an opportunity to comment and share their own similar experiences, perhaps using the blog as an outlet to vent.

Day 3
This particular blog was about an appearance of Lauren Conrad on the David Letterman show. There were several responses to the blog. People took the chance to get their opinions of her out there, as well as their opinions on how well she did on the show. I menitoned that I thought she looked beautiful and did a great job on the show and was backlashed at by one other commenter. I guess that person is not a fan of Laurens. I'm noticing a similar trend in all the blogging for this particular site. The articles are very similar to that of a tabloid magazine, even the layout is similar. There are short stories, then pictures to support. The only difference that I notice is that there is the opportunity to include multimedia, such as video, where in a magaizine there is not. There is not room for readers to directly comment back to the author of the blog in a magaizine, like people can here.

Day 4
I chose to follow this blog because I thought I might find the topics discussed interesting, but aside from a few stories, I was wrong. People are commenting about the celebrities being written about, and that’s pretty much it. There are minor areas where people attack each other due to disagreements in comments, but nothing too serious. One trend that I noticed is the audience the commenter’s are writing for. It often sounds as if they think the person the blog is about will see what they wrote. There is the slight possibility that the particular celebrity happens to follow this particular blog, but I’m guessing the chances aren’t too likely.

Unknown: u bloggers need to get a lifee.....just cause he's wearing boots does not confirm that he's may just be the style of the clothing he enjoys to wear

percia1999 : HAPPY BIRTHDAY Kevin. I hope you had a nice party and a good day. once again happy birthday kevin. Say hi to your brothers if you see this comment. thank you percia1999

Day 5
Country music artist, Taylor Swift, seems to be a hot topic on this blog. The blogger talks about how she doesn’t like her as an artist. Fans then respond back, as expected. Some protected her, and others agreed with the author. Some of the comments were harsh or could be considered by others to be brutally honest.

le_gal50 : Taylor Swift has no talent. Period. Her songs are full of high school angst. Her whiney little girl voice is repulsive. I seriously want to blow my brains out every time that talentless twit wins an award. She needs to take her high school drama to the appropriate venue -- High School Musical.

In response to above quote:
justme :Could anyone be more mean?

Shout into the Wind, and it Shouts Back - Kendall reaction

In the most recent reading that I have done for my COM 430Z class, we ventured into the world of LiveJournal. The article by Lori Kendall titled, “Shout into the wind, and it shouts back” Identity and interactional tensions on LiveJournal, discusses the uses, concerns and advantages of the blog. People use LiveJournal for many different purposes. Kendall discovered through her study that some people use the site as a journal for personal thoughts, similar to a diary. Then there are those who are opposed to the use of the blog as a diary because although there are some levels of privacy control, it is understood that any content put online has potential to be public. Some users also use LiveJournal to make announcements. For example, one of the users in Kendall’s study preferred posting the birth of a child on LiveJournal rather than emailing or calling each and every person they wanted to notify. The process of posting news on LiveJournal is quick and easy with one simple post.

Kendall also noticed a trend of users concern with their different worlds colliding. They often felt the need to filter other users and the content they allowed people to see. This is understandable because with the growth of LiveJournal, the audience that is exposed to ones journal is growing as well. Many people have different identities when it comes to who they are around. The amount of personal information, feelings and thoughts that are appropriate to expose around coworkers or supervisors is different than what you might feel comfortable exposing to friends or family. I can personally relate to this situation. I don’t blog outside of the realm of this class, however, I think that Facebook, a popular social networking site, can perpetuate some similar concerns. Certain information on my Facebook page I feel comfortable sharing with my friends, but not my family. I know there are some professors that are on Facebook and I wouldn’t think that it was appropriate for them to see pictures of me at a party. More and more people are on the site and similar to the concern with LiveJournal, there is the increased potential that people who see you differently can be shown a side of you that you may not want them to see.

Kendall, Lori. (2007). "Shout into the wind, and it shouts back." Identity and interactional tensions on LiveJournal. First Monday, 12. Retrieved on August 21, 2008 from

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

What's on Wikipedia, what's not...?

When researching online you can never quite be too sure what you’re going to get. You go to your favorite search engine, type in some key words then review the results. The chances that one of those results are going to be a Wikipedia entry are very likely, and according to Royal and Kapila, especially if the content you are searching is relevant to the time. Royal and Kapila, authors of What’s on Wikipedia, and what’s not…?, conducted a research study to determine the content they found on Wikipedia. Their results yielded several forms of bias in the content of information found on Wikipedia.

Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia, free to all. Wikipedia is run by its users providing entries and constantly updating those entries. Royal and Kapila’s study looked for the relationship between currency, importance, population of countries and economic power in determining how much information was provided on each Wikipedia entry. By the conclusion of the study it was found that the content on Wikipedia relied heavily on those factors. With very few exceptions, all of the previous factors increased content and word count on the Wikipedia pages, especially when compared to text versions of encyclopedias.

The results from this study offer much to think about. I look at the results as an increase in the power of Web 2.0. We as users have found a way to filter out what we are really looking for. Chances are if you want information on something that happened last week, it’s not going to be in a print version of an encyclopedia. Wikipedia is the encyclopedia of modern time. Those who want to look to the past can do so by looking elsewhere. Companies with more economic power are most likely more known to people, so why wouldn’t they have more information. Web 2.0 is all about technologies becoming more user friendly and if the content on Wikipedia is what the people want, then it’s fulfilling its purpose.

Royal, Cindy & Kapila, Deepina. (in press). What’s on Wikipedia, and what’s not…? Social Science Computer Review.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Essay 3

With the millions of different types of sources and information made easily available to us though the power of the World Wide Web, it’s hard to determine who to believe and trust. People today are becoming far more educated and able to contribute to the information that is out there. Years ago, common people, such as the housewife, the average teenager or even grandma had no idea how to add pages to the World Wide Web. It was commonly left to the scholars of the world. So now with everyone having the ability to contribute to the information that is out there, how does one determine what is credible and what is not? Is it up to us to use and trust certain search engines, or is the user responsible for searching with the correct key terms to ultimately find what we are looking for? Uncertain of the answer, what I do know is that research will help determine whether we should only trust certain search engines, or if as a user, we just simply need to search smarter.

The task that I have at hand is to search a specific Web 2.0 medium. I have chosen the fascinating world of blogging. I started my journey with a basic Yahoo search. It’s one of my home pages because I like that when you being to type text into the search box, it starts to offer suggestions. Now it is not the only site to do that, however, I believe that it was when I set my home pages. I decided to start basic by typing the word “blogging”. The first page on my list of results is the Wikipedia page for blogging. I think that Wikipedia is a good source of information because it is often written in a simple language where you do not have to be an expert in the field to comprehend the information that you are reading. There are detailed explanations that are broken down into sections to make research a little simpler. Wikipedia states that “A blog (a contraction of the term "Web log") is a Web site, usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse-chronological order. "Blog" can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog.” That seems like a pretty concrete and detailed description of what we were looking for. However, once must use extreme caution when using Wikipedia, as it is not known as a credible source. Wikipedia is a site that can be updated by anyone at any time, and although it may appear helpful and there are people constantly monitoring the information, no one can really be certain that wrongful information has not slipped through the cracks. I would use Wikipedia in a quick, informal search for personal use, but not for anything with academic purpose.

The second page that comes up on my Yahoo search is an article dated September 15th, 2005 from ABC news titled “What is Blogging"ABC news seems like a credible source. The article gives a description of the craze known as blogging, different types of blogging and even gives readers tips on how to start their own. The only thing that turns me off to this result is the date. Considering this is the second page that shows up on a list of 648,000,000 results, one would think that it would be a little more up to date. Although 2005 is not that long ago, when you consider the fact that the World Wide Web is updated every single second, and technologies like blogging have advanced since, it seems like centuries ago. With this in mind, I turn my search to a different engine. Google, the next most common search engine that I use is where I turned. The first thing that comes up is the same to the result of my Yahoo search, the Wikipedia page. Having already looked into that page, the next one on the list was Blogger, Google’s official blogging tool. I can’t help but wonder if the results all come back to paid advertisements. As I learned when creating my own profile on blogger for this course, you must provide personal information. As we read in Zimmer’s “The externalities of search 2.0: the emerging privacy threats when the drive for the perfect search engine meets Web 2.0”, search engines gather information to tailor to your needs. They have a goal of personalizing each search experience to custom what you are looking for. So does Google have alternative motives in Blogger being so far up on the results list?

Google gave me 115,000,000 hits when simply using the term blogging, so I decided to narrow it down by asking “what is blogging”. Web definitions came first. Also, a page for introduction to blogging came up which I found to be useful because it discussed different rules of the community of blogging. As we learned from Kollock and Smith in “Managing the Virtual Commons: Cooperation and Conflict in Computer Communities”, these virtual environments are communities in and of themselves and they each have their own rules. Looking at a different source, Ask Jeeves, I found articles by the BBC,a definition from What , that was full of advertisments and a blogging 101 tutorial from a university’s website.

In searching through our University’s library through Com Abstracts I found an article by Li and Walejko that talks about some of the problems associated with blogging. I would use this in the future because it not only comes from a credible search, being a University, but it also talks about the downside of blogging, something not yet touched upon. In Com Abstracts, I also found an article by Hodkinson that looks at blogging as a new means for communication. These are all good resources for any research because they provide more than just the simple definition.

In my search for the perfect results for my questions regarding blogging, I found many things. Advertisements were there on sties like Yahoo and Google and Ask Jeeves, maybe because not as popular, did not yield as many results as the previous two. I would use some of the definitions that I found on the search engines, and possible some of the articles. I would feel most comfortable using the school’s library database, because I can be certain they are from credible sources. I learned that as users the particular search engines that we utilize are not as important as the key words that we use and the intellect that we personally use to filter out the non credible sources.


Hodkinson, Paul (2007). Interactive online journals and individualization New Media & Society. 9 (4, August), 625-650.

Kollock, Peter & Smith, Marc. (1996). Managing the virtual commons: Cooperation and conflict in computer communities. In Susan C. Herring (Ed.), Computer-mediated communication: Linguistic, social and cross-cultural perspectives (pp.109-128). Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
Li, Dan, and Walejko, Gina (2008). Splogs and abandoned blogs: The perils of sampling bloggers and their blogs Information Communication & Society. 11 (2, March), 279-296.

Zimmer, Michael. (2008). The externalities of search 2.0: The emerging privacy threats when the drive for the perfect search engine meets Web 2.0. First Monday, 13. Retrieved August 21, 2008 from

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Search engine privacy

In the most recent reading I did for my COM430Z class entitled “The emerging privacy threats when the drive for the perfect search engine meets Web 2.0” by Michael Zimmer, discusses the ever so prevalent issue of privacy on the internet. According to Zimmer, search engines are on a quest to create personalized search results for each and every user. They do this in several ways. Zimmer states that these search engines such as Google and Yahoo! are using the latest user friendly Web 2.0 technologies, such as Facebook or Flickr, to compile information on each person. This craze is being referred to as Search 2.0. In Search 2.0, Zimmer says that perfect recall is used to track and monitor one’s history and the commonly searched topics you’ve looked for. The sites use resources such as you’re “… IP addresses, cookie ID, date and time, search results…” (p.3) to personalize your results leading to the user to be more likely to return to this particular search engine in the future, therefore leading to the search engine to charge more for targeted paid advertisements on their sites.

Although search engines are ultimately using Search 2.0 to better each user’s experience, the whole thing is a little frightening. The article talks about a case where a man’s emails that he thought were deleted, and search results were demanded in a court, and it was found that he searched for murder methods. Is that considered hard enough evidence to charge someone? I think the scariest thing about this whole phenomenon is that most people aren’t even aware that it exists. I learned about it for the first time last year in a course I was taking on computers, and I have to admit, I was disturbed. Something is literally tracking you, and that information can possibly be used against you at some point, when you didn’t even knowingly give it up. The whole idea of personalized search results does help to narrow ones search when there are millions of things out there on the World Wide Web, but at what cost is it affective. People should be made more aware of it. Maybe there could be a disclaimer when you enter the site, or when you set up your accounts. People should have options.

Zimmer, Michael. (2008). The externalities of search2.0: The emerging privacy threats when the drive for the perfect search engine meets Web 2.0. First Monday, 13.Retrieved August 21, 2008 from

Friday, September 26, 2008

Web 2.0

Many have heard of the new technology Web 2.0, but very few know what it actually is, and that they probably use it everyday. The latest article I read for my COM430Z class was “What is Web 2.0: Design patterns and business models for the next generation of software” by Tim O’Reilly (2005). O’Reilly explains Web 2.0 as a system that allows users to interact with one another and in a way allows the people themselves to act as servers for the system. For example, EBay is a site where people can purchase and sell items online. EBay itself acts as a mediator between the two humans. The article also mentions the comparisons and contrast between Web 2.0 and its predecessor Web 1.0. Web 1.0, for example, was technologies such as personal websites and the Britannica Online (p.1). The advancements made in the world of cyberspace can be linked to the development of Web 2.0. For comparison, we can look at the Britannica Online encyclopedia. In the days of Web 1.0, that was a main source for information on the internet. Today, many people use Wikipedia, an encyclopedia that allows it’s users to include and update information on their own. Being user friendly and oriented is what sets Web 2.0 technologies apart from anything that came before it.

Web 2.0 is used by people all over the world and people may not even realize. Do you really take the time, while online, to think of the advancements made, or do you just expect things to work, perhaps even getting frustrated that they are not meeting even higher expectations? It’s incredible that in our current status of the internet, we can determine, as users, what will succeed. According to O’Reilly, participation makes or breaks a site. Users help to make it grow. We have control over the destiny of cyberspace.

O’Reilly, Tim. (2005). What is Web 2.0: Design patterns and business models for the next generation of software. Retrieved August 21, 2008 from

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Essay 2 The early Internet

September 15th, 2008, 4:45 p.m.: “If McCain should actually (God forbid) win in November, I will be convinced that America's elections are a fraud. Of course, Bush has already given us plenty of reasons to believe we're no longer living in a democracy.” The topic is politics, a very intriguing and hot topic for Usenet groups. Anytime you talk politics, there’s always an interest, especially with this being a presidential election year. One could easily assume that this Usenet group is filled with active conversations and relevant topics. So the topic: John McCain, the place:, does anything seem wrong with that? The Usenet group that I have been observing is one dedicated to the New York Yankees, a major league baseball team, yet one consistent pattern that I have noticed is the constant discussion of politics. Are people not aware of where they are, or are they simply not considerate enough to obey the culture of the community and follow the topic of the group they are in? Usenet groups are communities and in all communities there is a certain culture, certain rules that should be followed.

Usenet is, according to Kollock and Smith (1996), “…one of the largest computer-mediated communication systems in existence.”(p.111). I used Google groups to locate the particular Usenet group that I observed. Kollock and Smith (1996) mention that “No central authority manages the Usenet…” (p.111), which could be part of the problem that I noticed when studying the group. In a group clearly dedicated to baseball, there is no stopping people that want to write about any other topics. Kollock and Smith (1996) state that “…name is one of its most effective means of defining a boundary: by announcing its contents, it attracts the interested and repels the disinterested...” (p.120), with that said, people who enter the community and talk about other topics are violating standards of the group. People who come to the group to talk about the Yankees displayed their frustrations with the others. In a comment made by the member Holey Moley posted on September 21st, “Without reading all of the posts I thought this was a group dedicated to Yankees baseball. Ya know?? Ny-yankees? Well, you fooled me. Maybe if I look up "politics" we can discuss baseball. Ya think?? Maybe??”. In order for Usenet groups to be enjoyed by all, there is a necessity for all group members to work together and obey the unwritten rules. There are plenty of groups dedicated solely to political talk where these rebels can have their words and opinions heard by others who share the desire to speak about the same topic.

Another observation that I took note of from the Yankees group was the issue of freedom of speech. People are allowed to say whatever they want in the group, as we know there is no one authority to moderate the conversations. However, people are subject to the harsh and cruel comments of others. People use the Usenet group to say things that in my opinion that they wouldn’t say in a face to face interaction. Similar to the idea of playing with gender, as discussed by Danet (1998), “…the typed text provides the mask.” (p.129). People have the ability to make handles that conceal their identity. Danet says that people in cyberspace use the fact that no one knows who they really are to act differently. Perhaps a woman in a room dominated by men uses a handle that can be considered masculine, though who is to say what’s feminine and what’s masculine, to be taken more seriously. In my opinion, people in the Yankee group use text as a mask, not necessarily to conceal their gender, but to be rude and blunt. No one knows there true identity, so they take the opportunity to attack others, speak inappropriately and make offensive remarks. For example, Holey Moley, a user that I paid close attention to, expressed his or her pride in having freedom in America, as she or he was reminded by the traditional singing of God Bless America, in the 7th inning of the Yankee game. He or she was attacked by another user, one who often had something negative to say about everything. Rmjon23 responded to holey moley’s comment by saying “Yea, except you are FORCED to be patriotic in Steinbrenner Land (Yankee Stadium)…F**K "God Bless America" <---I'm free to say that too, right, dickwad?”. Although I am sure they are out there, I don’t think that too many people would have the audacity to curse America, the country that we live freely in, to another’s face, and then call them a highly inappropriate name. Holey Moley was simply expressing his or her pride, and that’s what the forum is for, saying your mind, with regards to the topic. I guess one could argue that Rmjon23 was also expressing his or her opinion; however there is no need for such language.

In order for Usenet groups to be successful, people need to realize that being a member of the group is similar to being a member of a community. They should know to treat others as they would treat their neighbors. They should know to respect the wishes of others and keep the conversation relevant to the topic of the group. Many groups do not have these “rules” written out, but I think they are common courtesy and should be considered common knowledge.

Danet, Brenda. (1998). Text as mask: Gender, play, and performance on the Internet. In Steven G. Jones (Ed.), Cybersociety 2.0: Revisiting computer-mediated communication and community (pp.129-158). Thousand Oaks, NJ:Sage.
Kollock, Peter & Smith, Marc. (1996). Managing the virtual commons: Cooperation and conflict in the computer communities. In Susan C. Herring (Ed.), Computer-mediated communication: Linguistic, social and cross-cultural perspectives (pp. 109-128). Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

essay 2 Journal #5 9/23/2008

Today in observing the Usenet New York Yankee group for my essay in the COM 430Z class, I noticed less activity. There seemed to be several ads for Nike sneakers, which at least I might consider somewhat relevant to the topic: sneakers, sprots, baseball. But still, it doesnt belong. I looked around for some rules and or guidlines for the group, I could'nt find any. I found links to the histry of Usenet, but that's it. So I did some further inverstigation. I look back into the archives of the group. Surprisingly, I found that this particular group dates back to December, 1993. I did not expect that. I knew that they existed then, but I did'nt expect that one from that long ago would still be so active today.
There was some antagonizing among the group members today, based on comments made. One particular member told another to get a life, get a boyfriend or girlfriend, and get off Usenet. The fact that this user told someone to get a boyfriend or girlfriend makes it clear that the gender identity of the user is unknown.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Essay 2 Journal #4 9/22/2008

The Yankee usenet group that I am following for my essay for COM430Z finally seemed to be dominated by talk of the Yankees, and not the usual politics. The discussions in the group got so out of line with relation to the main topic, that finally, someone spoke up. In a comment made by Holey Moley, entiteled Sorry he or she says what I've been thinking the whole time I've been observing the group. The exact comment was "Without reading all of the posts I thought this was a group dedicated to Yankees baseball. Ya know?? ny-yankees? Well, you fooled me. Maybe if I look up "politics" we can discuss baseball. Ya think?? Maybe??" I think this person might have been frustrated with the unwritten rules of the community being violated. Why would you think to start talking politics in a sports room?
Much of the discussion was regarding the final game ever at Yankeed Stadium. Many users of the group took the opportunity to share with others their feelings and experiences about the stadium with others. Then there were those who could probably be considered the groups "trolls" who just had to express their happiness while so many fans were practically mourning the great loss. I think the group "troll" might have to be rmjon23, who cursed at someone for claiming their pride in our country. Holey Moley was expressing her pride in being free and being reminded of that by the traditional singing of God Bless America in the 7th inning. Rmjon23 responded by saying"...FUCK "God Bless America" <---I'm free to say that too, right, dickwad? " among other things. I doubt he or she would ever say that to someone in person.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Essay Journal #3 9/20/08

Today, in the Yankee chat usenet room, I made it a point to look out for again, because I am interested in trying to figure out their gender based on comments they make. As a reminder, yesterday they gave out a "Rose Award" that sounded like it was commonly known throughout the room, since he or she did not give any introduction to the award itself. No comments from rosecomm4256 today. The description to this usenet room reads "New York Yankees baseball talk". Some people used the room to talk of their sadness for the final game approaching on Sunday. Others used it as a forum to discuss their hatred of the Yankees, kinda in a "haha, in your face" kind of style. People were cruel towards players, the organization and their devoted fans. Rmjon23 was one of these people. I'm going to assume it's a man because of the jon in the handle, but once again, with gender on the internet who knows. Especially since the person was using such harsh words against the Yankees, they might have felt safest looking as a man, if they were indeed a woman.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Essay 2 Journal day 2

In the Usenet group dedicated to the New York Yankees baseball team that I am observing, there were a few new postings today. There's this person, who I am going to assume is a woman because the email adress reads gives out what I believe to be a daily Rose award for the Yankee that he or she thinks did the best. I automatically assumed it was a woman, however thinking back to our discussion on gender play on the internet in our class, it made me wonder if I was jumping the gun in my assumption. It could be someones last name, or it could be a man who enjoys roses, or wants to be portrayed as a woman, which would be very interesting considering this is a chat room devoted to sports (probably mostly men). I'm going to particullary keep an eye out for this person, as I am now very curious about their gender.

There was also still talk about politics, mostly McCain today, as opposed to yesterday being mostly about Pallick. I wonder if these people are confused about where they are, or if presidential debates came up when talking about baseball.

Essay 2 Journal

Thursday September 18th, 2008
I decided to join a group devoted to the New York Yankees, via Google groups. I found it very interesting. There was discussion, as expected, of the Yankees, however the discussions seemed to be dominated by political talk. People used it to ask questions about star players, like where Jeter when to college, but Republican Vice President candidate Sarah Palin was talked about much more than the focus of the group. Talks about how "hot" she is seemed to be most popular. There was also discussion about McCain, but Palin was definately the hottest topic in the group. There were also some advertisements, and of course, soem spam, with opportunities to visit websites to see naked celebrities. I expected the spam and advertisements, but was really shocked at the political talk. I expected sports fans, especially New York Yankee fans, to be a little more focused on actual baseball.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Web 1.0

For my COM 430Z class, I read “New media and web production" (The Internet: The basics Ch.3) by Jason Whitaker. This article basically gave a description of the webpage how we know it today. Whitaker talks about the advances that lead to the modern day web page. Many technological advances needed to come first to allow the capabilities of our internet. According to Whitaker, the advancement of digital photography helped bring about our modern day web page. (p.66) Whitaker claims that for many, ..."seeing is believing..."(p.62), so photographs on web pages help to make them more credible sources of information. Whitaker also claims that audio and video are also some of the most common and new found technologies of the web.(p.67) With these advancements, we can listen to radio via our computers, and have conferences with people around the world through webcams. We can also listen to and receive music, something very popular, especially among college students today who share files with one another. According to Whitaker, the compression of video is another technology that has helped the web to be what it is today.(p.69) Whitaker also acknowledges that advances such as color and images, layout designs, and hyperlinks have taken the web to places we never expected.(p. 81, 84, 86)

I know that the web is used by people all over the world, but in my opinion, its advances are probably most appreciated by the modern student. Music, papers, photos, communication, is all at every one of our fingertips. I can’t imagine having to do all that a student is responsible for without the web. We can watch movies and look up journal articles from a school in California within seconds. I can’t even fathom having to actually go to the library, look through books, and have to write a paper. It boggles my mind that we can do entire research papers for classes often without even having to leave the comfort of our own rooms. I am so appreciative of the advances in the web. How did people get by with slow internet connections, and no images on their web pages? I often wonder about the world wide web with only text, and I cannot picture it.

Whitaker, Jason. (2002). The Internet: The basics (chapter 3). New York: Routledge

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Kollock and Smith Usenet Reaction

In “Managing the Virtual Commons: Cooperation and Conflict in Computer Communities” , an article I read for my COM430Z class, the authors Kollock and Smith discuss Usenet and the many problems associated with communicating on the internet. According to Kollock and Smith, Usenet was “…one of the largest computer-mediated communication systems…” People from all over the world use these discussion groups, known as newsgroups, to express opinions on topics such as technical computer problems, computer games, languages and hot topic issues, such as the World Trade Center bombing. However, with this opportunity for communication solely through the computer come many complications. There must be control over what is said to ensure that nothing is overly offensive, there are rules to be followed and not a lot of support to enforce these desires. Kollock and Smith say that Ostrom, in 1990, found a number of principles that must be met in order to have a community be organized and govern themselves. Although these communities in her studies were based on face to face interactions, they can be applied to the Usenet users, as they too are a community. Ostrom states that there must be group boundaries clearly defined, rules are to match local needs, people affected by the rules should have a say in adjusting them, external authorities must respect the rules of the community, there must be a monitoring system, sanctions are necessary, and community members need access to low cost conflict resolution. All these standards are imperative for the success of the Usenet community. They must be met in order to ensure the effectiveness of Usenet and to ensure that it remains with its original purpose and meets the needs of its users.

Communicating via the computer brings about a whole new set of social standards, mildly comparable to that of face to face contact. For instance, the limit of bandwidth, the space one has available to discuss, can be compared to talking in person with someone and not monopolizing the entire conversation. Smith and Kollock also say one of the largest issues with Usenet is the free-rider problem. With the availability of Usenet to all, people put their thoughts, their ideas, their work out for the whole world to see, and “free-riders” can often take their ideas and make them their own, or go into a discussion, with none of the work done. This problem is comparable to assignments being posted for an entire class to see. I’m sure there are some students out there that don’t do the actual work, read the work of other students, and can gain an idea of what they should write. This is a major problem with students today. There are major consequences in all schools if caught, yet that is only if they are caught. People get away with taking the ideas of others and getting the same credit for contributing with someone else basically doing all the work for them. Free-riding is abusing the privileges associated with the wonderful technology we have available.

Monday, September 8, 2008

what is the internet?

What is the internet? Many people think they obviously know the answer to that question, but the truth is the internet is so much more than what the average person may think. Common answers to the question of what the internet is may include the World Wide Web, Google, Yahoo, email, and many more. Although not entirely incorrect, those answers would be considered incomplete, because the before mentioned answers are simply characteristics and applications of the internet as we know it, as a whole. The World Wide Web, probably the most commonly mistaken word for the internet, is actually one of its largest developments, which helped to create the internet’s image as we know it today. The World Wide Web, more commonly known as WWW, is a “…network of interactive documents created by millions of users throughout the world…” (Adams & Clark C.1 p.19). Google and Yahoo, are common search engines and email, is electronic mail, all components of the internet, but not the actual internet itself.
The internet can best be described as a medium, a macromedium to be exact. It is to be considered macro in the context of its large size, and a medium in the sense of communication we use it as (Adams & Clark, C.2, p. 28). So large in size is the internet that we can communicate to millions of people, all over the world, with one single webpage. Our thoughts, our ideas, our opinions, and our knowledge are out there in cyberspace, for the whole world to see them. In the field of communication, mediums are immensely important. They are how we connect to one another, to an audience, and also to institutions. As stated by Kahn and Cerf (1999) “The internet is revolutionizing our society, our economy and our technological systems.” For example, when’s the last time you can remember actually stepping into a bank, or mailing in a check as a payment for a bill? Chances are, if you are up on the latest technology the internet has to offer, these everyday tedious tasks have become done in a matter of seconds, from the convenience of one’s home. We have the ability to connect with family members and friends thousands of miles apart. Soldiers away at war, when available can communicate their well being to their loved ones, via email or webcam, eliminating the anxiety of waiting weeks for a letter to come in the mail, offering comfort and easing concern. Long away have we come from the days of messengers, where communication took up to months. We can conduct international business meetings via webcam, revolutionizing time management. Precious time is a great gift the internet has given back to us. No longer must we spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to travel to another country to meet with business associates. We can multi task by writing an email, checking the weather, looking over reports and eating lunch all at the same time. Expensive, long distance telephone calls are also becoming a thing of the past, with the development, popularity and convenience of email. Technology has even come as far to where the internet is accessible on ones cellular phone, making it quite clear that the internet is an everyday necessity in our face paced world.
The internet began with the need for communication in times of crisis. In the event of a nuclear war, our country felt the need for communication, especially in regards to plan of action, was of extreme importance (Adams & Clark C.1 p.9). American scientists worked diligently to provide a form of communication that would be able to withstand anything. As the years progressed, so did the capabilities of the internet. In its early stages, being mostly available to a limited crowd of computer scientists, researchers and scholars, it was used as a way to interact with one’s colleagues (Cerf & Kahn, 1999).Throughout the years, many developments followed to bring us the internet as we know it today. According to Kahn and Cerf (1999) “…It is estimated that about 60 million host computers on the internet today serve about 200 million users in over 200 countries and territories…Also, the total number of host computers have been growing at …roughly 80% per year.”
So what exactly is the internet? The internet is this incredible macromedium that allows us as a society, as a world to be interconnected. It is communication. The internet is a time saver. The internet is convenience. The internet is comfort. The internet is knowledge at our fingertips. The internet is cost effective. The internet as a whole is without a doubt one of the fastest growing, ever evolving, necessary technologies of our time, known to man.

Adams, Clark. (Chapter 1). How did we get here? The development of a new medium.

Adams, Clarke. (Chapter 2). What is it? Characteristics of the medium.

Cerf, Kahn. (1999. December). What is the internet (And what makes it work). Retrieved September 5th, 2008, from

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Reading Reaction 1 Wed. 9/3/08

Communication in our world today has made many incredible advances. From the days of messengers, to the telephone which now comes in a portable version that can be found on people as young as eight years old, today’s form of communication via email, and websites on the internet are far more incredible than ever imagined. In terms of communication as a medium, the internet can best be described as a macromedium, due mostly in part to its large scale. Reliability, speed and distribution are common problems associated with communicating between distances, but the internet is constantly evolving as rapidly becoming one of the most effective ways of communicating in our society today.
Some major concerns with the internet today and all that is available are issues of copyright material. Websites today use hypertext very often, allowing the user to bounce back and forth from page to page to further their experience. This issue is also a problem with the concern regarding MP3’s, which is a common way that people today are getting music. This issue has become such a problem because on the internet, these MP3’s are often available free of charge. Many are considering this to be stealing and to be hurting the music industry. From the standpoint of the music industry, I can see their fear and concerns. However, I can also see the point of view of the teenager who is downloading free music as simply using the technology that the internet provides. I think that the internet is a wonderful thing, yet can give a little too much power to some people and can be greatly taken advantage of. In a society where children of today do not know a world without the internet, how do we teach them that some of the internet is not appropriate? Stealing music from artists, posting fake edited pictures to embarrass people can all ruin lives. I recently heard a story of a girl who was bullied by others in a chat room and committed suicide. Although communication has reached great new accomplishments, these advances of the internet can at times, be dangerous, and precautions must be taken to ensure proper use.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Reading 1

The first chapter that we read for class gives an indepth look at the creation of the internet as we know it today. The history of the internet traces way back to the dropping of the first atomic bomb by the United States onto Japan. The fear of retalliation led to an increased need for new, undestructable technology systems. The government had many teams working toward a common goal of setting up a means of communication that would be able to function in the event of nuclear attack. The USSR release of the Sputnick satellite further fueled