Wednesday, December 3, 2008

YouTube Observations

I chose YouTube as the Web 2.0 communication medium for my final essay. I chose this because I have never really gotten into the whole YouTube craze and I was quite interested in what it had to offer. Throughout my use of the site i discovered on how many options there are to entertain yourself on the site other than watching videos. It offers comments on videos, you can subscribe to other users content and even visit specific channels.

I checked out the forums on YouTube and saw pretty much just posts about people having problems with uploading videos.

I checked out a few videos I was interested like a Dave Matthews song that was performed live at a concert I went to and a John Lenon interview. I found the discussions to be very intriguing as they gave me more information about the song and other facts and opinions about Lenon.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Reaction to Shirky Chapter 9 - Fitting our tools to a small world

For my reaction this week, I read chapter 9 out of Here comes everybody: The power of organizing without organizations, by Clay Shirky. In this chapter, the idea of social networking is broken down. Shirky starts off by using the "Small World" example to identify how these social networks work (p.213). In this example, he mentions how the probability of knowing someone increases, due to what you are doing. This makes sense because similarities are often what brings two people together ultimately creating a friendship. The other key point that came from this example is that people are categorized into two extremes, which are highly connected and barely connected people. In the middle of these two poles is the average person with their average connectivity to other people (Shirky, 2008).

Shirky uses this key idea of the two extremes to further expand on the "Small World" social network. In this social network people are grouped into small groups and large groups. The highly connected individual in a small group connects to another small group by knowing someone, thus creating a larger social network (p.215). Shirky demonstrates on how this works by using the social networking site Dodgeball as an example (p.218). By using this site, you are not only connected to your friends, but also friends of your friends.

Throughout the rest of the chapter, Shirky (2008) recognizes the terms of bonding and bridging capital. Bonding capital represents getting to know people within the small group better, where as bridging capital represents connecting the small groups to other small groups (p.222). These two functions of a person's social network are important and should be balanced to reach a successful social network.

In the reading, many examples of technology aiding the expansion and common maintenance of social networks were given. The rise of social networking sites, such as Facebook and Myspace have made it much easier to stay connected with friends (Shirky, 2008). These sites allow people to build friendships with a limited amount of face to face contact. I believe the main reason for this is the use of pictures on social networking sites, which now substitutes seeing someone in person. The technological advancements in cell phones have also furthered the ability of a person to work on their social networks, leaving place and time a non factor. This has left people with the ability to maintain a larger social network than what was previously capable. Technology has developed accordingly with the person's desire to socialize and has embedded itself into the way we communicate with others.


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

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Boing Boing wrap up

Today is my last day observing the blog Boing Boing. Through my observations I have learned a lot about the horizontal structure of blogs. My time on this blog was extremely useful as I also generated some discussion. I was excited to see that I received my first response today in the comment section of the e-waste post. The user Not A Doktor replied to be post directly by posting


Two words for you bud, nethack server."

I had no idea what this meant, so I went into Google and searched nethack server. I then discovered that they were giving me another idea of what to do with my old computer instead of recycling it. Boing Boing is an extremely interesting and I will definetely be revisiting it in the future.

Essay #4 - Blogging

The rise of the Internet has brought about a shift in the way people receive information. News and information on the Internet can now be identified as massed media, shifting away from the vertical structure in which it used to be obtained (Barlow, 2008). Without a doubt the vertical structure is still present on the Internet, as many of the major newspaper corporations have created online outlets. However, as Barlow mentions, the popularity of the blog has been created by the horizontal structure we now see (p. 88). A simple definition of a blog, found on SLSConsulting, states a blog as, "An online diary where people can post messages and others may view and respond to the posts." This simple idea has evolved into a new medium where anyone can report information about anything they want to. The horizontal structure found in blogs is makes them a successful communication medium.

Over the past week, I have submerged myself into the blog community of Boing Boing; to observe the horizontal structure first hand. While doing so, I kept a journal of what I saw and what occurred when I interacted with this blogging community. Boing Boing states itself as a "Directory of wonderful things." I agree with this statement as a vast amount of topics can be found on this blog. These topics ranged anywhere from flying cars to information on President elect Obama's food policy. Boing Boing has five authors who are the only ones that can edit and post to the blog. The blog is set up into three main pages. These consist of a general information blogging page, a blogging page focused on gadgets and a blogging page focused on videos they create. It also contains a directory of its posts since January 16, 2000, which gives it some research and more entertainment value. The main interaction tool of this blog that defines it as a community, is the comment tool. To use this, a user must sign up for the blog through create an account. This allows the user to further discuss a blog post with others and expand on the story.

Now that a general outlay of Boing Boing has been given, I can now dig deeper into the discussion of blogs and their horizontal structure. As Barlow mentions in chapter 4 of his book, Blogging @merica, blogs have become a successful way for a non-journalist to relay news and information (p. 89). The fact that anyone can be an author on a blog gives people this power that was once not available. Before the Internet, the news media was monopolized by major news corporations. In a sense it still is, but blogs have proven to be a new and popular outlet for relaying information (Barlow, 2008). While I was observing the Boing Boing blog, I noticed that it had a small amount of the top to bottom vertical structure. This is represented because the five authors are the only ones who can decide what stories can get posted to the blog. As mentioned by Barlow, this power is the only source of vertical structure in blogs (p.86).

As mentioned earlier, Boing Boing has five main authors for their blog. This in a sense also displays a democratic horizontal style because they all can have a say with what is posted (Barlow, 2008). I have yet to see any hierarchy within the five authors while observing the blog. This observation is only a minor representation of the horizontal structure found in blogs. The feature of Boing Boing and other blogs that screams out horizontal structure is the user comments. As I mentioned, a user is able to comment and discuss a story that is posted on the blog. During my observation period of Boing Boing, I decided to become a part of this discussion on a couple of posts.

The first post I commented on was about a man's house that was destroyed by an explosion of a nearby plant in England. This was posted by the author Mark and provided me with visuals of the house via a YouTube video. While I was looking through the comments I noticed that many users were offering their support to the man, as I did. One comment that caught my eye was by a user named Simon, who gave background on this town and the explosion, which wasn't available in the original post. This was a perfect example of the success that the horizontal structure gives a blog. This user gave their input of research on the story thus expanding it. Another user, in the comment section of this story, sparked a separate story within it, by providing a link of a documentary of England law. The fact that everyone has a say in a blog and can create their own story within another person's blog, proves on how successful blogs and their horizontal nature has become (Barlow, 2008).

The other blog post that I commented on was about the e-waste issue that I found within the gadget section of Boing Boing. This time I tried to generate a discussion by asking where I should recycle my old computer. I was quite surprised when the user "Not A Doktor" replied with, "Two words for you bud, nethack server." At first I was slightly confused, but then I looked up what a nethack server was and determined he was enlightening me of another use of my outdated computer. This story has been going around on blogs for a while and was just recently picked up by the television show 60 Minutes. As Barlow mentions, this is an example of crowdsourced journalism, which is another example of the advantages and success of the horizontal structure within blogs (p. 97).

In conclusion, the time I spent observing and interacting with the Boing Boing community was worth it. Through my observations I discovered how the horizontal structure of blogs works and encountered many examples that prove the success of blogs and their horizontal ways. The ability to post whatever information you desire is a unique quality of blogs and is not seen in the vertical structure of other media outlets. Whether its crowdsourced journalism or stories created within an original post, blogs prove to be a new competing medium (Barlow, 2008). With the further advancements in communication technologies, the Internet is becoming available almost anywhere. This gives blogs a bright future and could someday make them the paramount source for news and information.


1. Barlow, Arron. (2008). Blogging @merica: The New Public Sphere. Westport: Praeger.

2. Boing Boing

3. SLSConsulting

Features of Boing Boing

Today I continued to observe and partake in the Boing Boing community. I followed up on my posts from the other day and was unsuccessful on generating any discussion on places to dispose my old computer. On the other hand, the post about the explosion of a man's house in England had some great discussion in the comments. One user, identified as Simon, gave a short and descriptive background Hemel Hempstead, which is he town in where the explosion occurred. He also stated that it was the largest explosion in Europe since World War 2.

One thing I noticed today that I should have looked at the first day was the suggest a link on the front page of BB. This gives the user a set of guidelines if they would like to suggest a link to one of the blog owners. I also noticed that they already have a new blog author since I started observing this blog last week. The name of this author is Joel. BB also has an archive of all of its old content, which dates back to January 2000. I went back to view a couple of the first archived time periods and noticed there was barely any content on their blog at that time. No video or pictures were present, as this is not the case now. I noticed BB also contains some advertising on the right hand side of the page. It's only a small amount of sites and it isn't really distracting at all.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Observations continued

Today on Boing Boing i dove into a couple more blog posts. I went under the gadget section and ran into more information on this e-waste situation. I actually need to get rid of my old computer and asked if anyone had any suggestions on the comment and am hoping for some feed back. I also read another post about a man in England who had his house blown up and destroyed when a nearby plant blew up. He suffered a loss in all of his personal belongings and some medical side effects from the explosion. The government or company has offered him no support so I posted and gave my own.

After following Boing Boing for a couple of days, I have noticed that the comments are used heavily for discussion. This discussion ranges from people answering questions for others and comments on the blog post. Although I haven't received any direct response to my comments, I am confident of the discussion on this blog and that this will come if I keep submersing myself into the blog community.

Reaction to Nov. 12th reading

Today I read an article out of the journal First Monday called ""Shout into the wind, and it shouts back." Identity and interactional tensions on LiveJournal." This article is written by Lori Kendall and discusses a social networking site (SNS) known as LiveJournal. LiveJoural is a SNS that includes a friends list and comments with the interactions written in diary form (Kendall, 2007). As mentioned by Kendall, in this site you are able to connect with people through a friend's list and view their posts (para. 2). These posts, range anywhere from personal problems to jokes. Each user is then able to view their friend's LiveJournal entry depending on the filter restrictions of the post. The communication on this site that makes it a SNS is done through comments that a user is able to post on an entry they have read (Kendall, 2007).

In this article, Kendall looks deeper into this SNS by interviewing a total of twenty-six users of LiveJournal (para. 5). By doing this she identifies some problems that come up when a user is communicating in LiveJournal. Kendall mentions that when using LiveJournal a user comes into the conflict of whether to keep their entry private through the filter system. In this filter system a user is able to allow their post to be private, public or set to a list where only friends on this list can see it (para. 39). Via Kendall's research, she discovers that most users prefer to keep certain information private depending on the audience they want to view it (para. 40). In the rest of the article Kendall talks about other issues, such as the lack of control users have over another user's journal and the tension of posting the "right" thing on a friend's journal (Kendall, 2007).

The issue of control over who views your message is an intriguing point brought up by Kendall (para. 39). Many of the LiveJournal users who were interviewed discussed how they use the filter when they post information they don't want certain people to see. The common example was when people complained about someone who they worked with (Kendall, 2007). This issue of privacy is something that needs to be considered when using LiveJournal, blogs or other social network sites. Employers now venture into these online communities searching for information on their potential hire. Just because your journal or blog is set to private does not mean it will be completely protected from public viewing. With search engines indexing your personal blogs and information from these sites, it is now easy to become exposed. I believe personal information that could warrant trouble should be left off your favorite SNS or blog completely. The risk is there and a perfectly good opportunity, such as a job shouldn't be taken for granted.


1. 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

Monday, November 10, 2008

Mexican Jumping Bean? and more observations

Yes they are real. Today I read the blog post by Mark Frauenfelder of boingboing on Mexican jumping beans. I have heard of these before, but never knew exactly what made them jump. In the blog post, Mark mentions that he discovered Mexican jumping beans when he was at Burbank airport.

He didn't mention what made them jump, but when I read the comments a member of the blog posted that it was the larva of a Spanish fly. I liked how the communication of the blog helped me discover this. I explored more of the blog today and noticed that they had two other sub blogs called Boing Boing Gadgets and Boing Boing TV. The bbgadgets sub blog featured posts on unique creations they have found. The bbtv featured videos of episodes that they made for the viewers of their blog. This shows that they cover many different audiences within their blog.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Boing Boing First Look

For my fourth class essay the task is to observe and participate within a blog community. The blog I chose for this task is Boing Boing. I found this blog using the Technorati blog finder, which made it easy for me to find a blog that interested me. BoingBoing is a blog that displays a wide range of topics. For example, I read a blog on the most recent episode of 60 minutes pertaining to the E-waste issue and another talking about the current economic crisis we are in. The blog is ran and edited by five people, which are Mark, Cory, David, Xeni, and John. They are the owners of the blog and are the only ones who may post on this blog. They do offer interaction within their blog through comments, which can be made by any user who signs up for this blog.

After going through the relatively easy and quick process of signing up for the blog, I decided to comment on the blog about E-Waste. I was particularily interested in this post because I watched the episode of 60 minutes tonight. The blog post by Xeni summed up the E-Waste situation and provided a video clip of the 60 Minutes segment.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Reaction to Chapter 2 in Blogging @merica

For today's reaction I read Chapter 2 in Blogging @merica: The Public Sphere by Aaron Barlow. In this chapter called "The Blogs in Society," Barlow talks about how common the blog has become throughout the world and especially in America (p.35). With the development of the online blogging communities, the potential for anyone to become an author or journalist through the Internet is now a reality. Barlow mentions that the community is what makes blogging work. In the blogging community or also known as the blogosphere, people can maintain conversations with one another and exchange ideas in topics of their choice (p.37).

In this chapter, Barlow brings up the point that while participating in a blogging community, you can become vulnerable to threats and a lack of privacy. With personal information easily accessible through the Internet one must be careful of what they say while blogging (p.41). In the reading, Barlow gives a specific example of the threats that a blogger can encounter. He used a girl named Sierra that had her life threatened from a blogger who posted on her blog (p.38). Barlow also brought up the point of not blogging about things that might offend your coworkers or friends. He did this by using a writing by Chris Harris in the School Library Journal. In the article, Harris mentions the vulnerability of blogs and how they can be found easily through the Internet (Harris, 2007). In the rest of the chapter, Barlow brings up the issue of plagiarism in blogs. He mentions the differences between "hard plagiarism, which is copying and pasting one's work and soft plagiarism, which is expressing one's idea through your own words" (p.55).

In this chapter, Barlow talks about how plagiarism in blogs is not possible (p.56). This is because there are no laws against non-printed work, such as blogs. The copyright law covers people copying the work of others that have had their work published and copyrighted. I believe the law needs to be changed now that online writing through blogs is becoming a major form of media. For example, I participate in fantasy sports on the Internet and every day I glance at sports writer's blogs for useful information. This information needs to be protected because their ideas are unique and anyone shouldn't be able to copy them and take credit. The way people are writing is changing and because of this the laws must change too.


1. Barlow, Arron. (2008). Blogging @merica: The New Public Sphere. Westport: Praeger.

2. Harris, Chris, "Five Reasons Not to Blog," School Library Journal, April 2007, Vol. 53, Isue 4, 24.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Essay #3 - Searching and Determining Quality of Information

The development of Web 2.0 has given people a new way in communicating with each other across the Internet. This new use of the Internet has sparked the creation of many social networking sites, such as Facebook, Flickr, and YouTube. All of these sites have their own unique properties, but have the common theme of sharing information between networks of people. The medium I chose to conduct research on is Youtube, which is recognized as a social networking site with the main purpose of sharing videos.

During my initial research of YouTube, I examined three different search engines that included EBSCOhost, Google, and Yahoo. Within these search engines I looked to see which one brought back the most useful and relevant information. Google proved to be the best and most effective search engine out of the three.

My research process for Youtube began by determining which search engines to use. As I already mentioned, EBSCOhost, Google, and Yahoo were the three search engines I chose to use. EBSCOhost was the first search engine I examined and it turned out to be quite useful. This search engine is a library database that contains a mass amount of information including journal articles, news prints, and newspaper articles. The information coming from EBSCOhost in credible because the information is reviewed by the library before it is entered into the database. This is the main reason why I chose to use EBSCOhost as one of the search engines for my research. In EBSCOhost it contains three search fields, which give you the option to add more than one keyword to your search. In my searches I used two of the keywords at a time to try and retrieve more specific results. These consisted of YouTube and politics, and Youtube and history. By using the second keyword option, Ebsco gave me four specific, credible sources to use towards my research. The problem I encountered with EBSCOhost was the lack of articles that came up in the searches and the relevancy of them. In EBSCOhost some articles aren't available online and while searching I found an article that was unavailable both online and in the library. This could cause problems for people who don't have time on their side.

The next search engine I used was Google. This search engine was used in my research because it is known as the most popular search engine on the Internet. The familiarity of Google also made me decide to use it, as I use this search engine frequently. Unlike EBSCOhost, Google uses a page rank system which brings back the most linked web pages relevant to your keywords (Whitaker, 2002). When using search engines, Boolean Logic can be extremely useful in finding what you are looking for. As mentioned by Kaye and Medoff (2001) "Boolean logic consists of operators, such as AND, OR, NOT, and NEAR" (para. 25). The objective of these operators are to make the search more narrow and give you specific results in the topic you are searching for. While using Google, I entered a combination of Boolean logic and keywords into the search field. They were "YouTube" AND "history", and "YouTube" AND "famous". These keywords paired with the Boolean logic left me with three relevant sources to my topic. The process of finding the sources wasn't too long, as the page rank system clearly made it easy to sort through Google's vast database of knowledge (Kaye and Medoff, 2001).

The last search engine that I used is Yahoo. This search engine had a more cluttered interface than that of Google's. The search field was at the top of the web page, but underneath was full of news and all different sorts of information. I chose to use this search engine because I have some experience using it. As mentioned by Kaye and Medoff Yahoo uses a hierarchical search database which arranges it's information into categories. This type of system tends to give you more specific information which was also an influence on my decision (2001). While searching on yahoo I found three sources with specific information pertaining to YouTube. I again used the Boolean logic along with two key words and entered "YouTube" AND "history" into the search field. One thing I noticed while using the Yahoo search engine is that more of the information was from people posting relevant information on blogs and other information sharing sites, such as

After evaluating the three different search engines, Google came out on top as the best search engine. While generally using the same Boolean logic and keyword terms for all three search engines, Google returned the most relevant and topic specific information. Google is as simple as it gets when it comes to a search engine, which is a beneficial characteristic. Instead of wasting time with the more complicated search tactics of EBSCOhost or the cluttered Yahoo search engine, Google proved to be simple and quick. The page rank system and Googles massive database were also far more superior than those of EBSCOhost and Yahoo. These characteristics are what makes Google the best search engine on the Internet.

While performing research through the search engines I found ten sources that seemed helpful towards my final essay. Using EBSCOhost I found four articles from journals. Two of these articles were not online and in print form only. They included an article in the journal Newsweek by Breslau and Skipp, which talked about the popularity of YouTube and how the 2008 presidential candidates were using this medium for relaying their campaign to the users of Youtube (2007). This was one of the sources that I will include in my final essay because of it's relevance to my topic and it's political influence on society. It also contained the credibility I was looking for in a source, as it came from a library index (Tensen, 2004). The other print source was the article "YouTube to Offer TV Shows With Ads Strewn Through," by Stelter. In this article, Stelter mentioned how YouTube had made a major deal with Discovery and other networks to show episodes of their television shows via YouTube (2008). I also found this to be relevant and credible which deemed it as another keeper.

While using Google, I decided to keep articles found in Time Magazine and BusinessWeek, which both talked about YouTube's history and important events that have occurred. While using search engines you receive both credible and non-credible information. This occurs because anyone can be an author through the Internet. Boolean logic helped me be more specific in my searches and filter out some of the non-credible sources found while using non-academic search engines (Tensen, 2004). The sources I decided to discard from my research were two I found via Yahoo. The common characteristic found in and were that they didn't have any citing and contained advertisements. This left their information non trustworthy and gave it the possibility of being non-credible (Tensen, 2004).

In conclusion, search engines are helpful resources to use while looking for information. Each one has a different technique, whether it being Google's page rank system or Yahoo's heirachial database. When using these different search engines you must be aware of the credible and non-credible sources out there. The internet contains a vast amount of knowledge, but at the same time some of this can be fictional (Tensen, 2004). This is why one must be aware of this fact and be prepared to take responsibility in which information they use for research.


1. Breslau, K., & Skipp, C. (2007). How to Run for President, YouTube Style. Newsweek, 151, 69-69.

2. Kaye, Barbara K. & Medoff, Norman J. (2001). The World Wide Web: A mass communication perspective (chapter 2). Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Publishing.

3. Stelter, B. (2008, October 11). YouTube to Offer TV Shows With Ads Strewn Through. New York Times, p. B2.

4. Tensen, Bonnie L. (2004). Research strategies for a digital age (chapter 5). Boston: Wadsworth.

5. Whitaker, Jason. (2002). The Internet: The basics (chapter 1). New York: Routledge.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Privacy Issues Brought by Search 2.0

The emergence of Web 2.0 has brought change to the way we retrieve information through the Internet. In the article "The externalities of search 2.0: The emerging privacy threats when the drive for the perfect search engine meets Web 2.0," Michael Zimmer mentions that search engines are now trying to achieve Search 2.0 capabilities (pg. 2). These capabilities consist of accessing an almost unlimited amount of information for the user and personalizing this information when retrieved by the user (Zimmer, 2008). In this article, Zimmer recognizes these two important qualities as the "perfect reach and perfect recall" (pg. 3).

These two key qualities of search 2.0 can be extremely beneficial to the user, but they do bring some baggage along. For search engines, such as Google, obtaining this customized aspect within search results requires them to know some personal information about the user (Zimmer, 2008). As mentioned by Zimmer, these search engines do this by recognizing you as a certain IP address. They then tag information, such as browsing history and demographics to achieve their goal of personalization (pg. 3). The amount of information that search engines can obtain is the main worry of the search 2.0 technology. In the rest of this article, Zimmer gets into this personal information flaw and recognizes that it can be used by employers and even the government to pry into people's personal lives (pg. 6).

This article was quite concerning to me and helped me realized in more depth, on how vulnerable the Internet can make you. Zimmer mentions that the search engines keep this flaw of search 2.0 pretty well hidden (pg. 7). I agree with this, as I was one of the many who didn't know the true complications of this issue. I didn't realize that by having a GMAIL account, Google can take your demographic information and use this to personalize searches. The fact that they can hand over emails and this personal information to the government is without a doubt a privacy breach (Zimmer, 2008). I believe it shouldn't be possible for a search engine or company to have that amount of power in their hands. The fact is that these companies do have this information and it should be controlled. Laws need to be passed that regulate the flow of user's personal information and a remedy needs to be put in place. As mentioned by Zimmer, I agree that the cure of this privacy problem should consist of giving users the option to what information is accessed by these companies and the search engines (pg. 8). If this is not dealt with, the possibility of a bigger privacy issue could be on the horizon.


1. 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, September 24, 2008

Essay #2 - The Early Internet

Computer-mediated communication (CMC) communities have been around since the beginnings of the Internet. These communities have given people a way to share common interests with each other through asynchronous and synchronous chat. There are many different options available to the user, such as IRC, MUDs, Usenet and email lists. The medium I chose to observe for five days was the asynchronous email list. An asynchronous chat means that there is a delay between the time a message is sent and received between users. The specific email list I chose to observe is the "Rumormillnews," which was located through Yahoo groups. This group was created on December 28Th, 2002 and currently has 1,296 members. An email list works by someone sending a relevant topic to the specific group email, which is then distributed to every group member's email account. It then gives you the option to reply to group members post, create your own or just observe.

A common problem found within computer-mediated communities is the act of free riding and trolling. Defined by Kollock and Smith, free riding is when a user posts an irrelevant topic to the group, leeches off group member's information without providing any of their own and "asking questions to the group without answering questions from anyone else" (pg. 116). Trolling is when a user replies to a post in a rude way to create a rise out of that member (Kollock and Smith, 1996). Another activity that is made possible and performed in CMC communities is gender masking.

In the article "Text as mask: Gender, play, and performance on the Internet," Danet mentions that text serves as a mask in CMC communities because there is no face to face contact involved. This allows users to create a general name to hide their gender and thus allow them to act as a male or female within the community (Danet, 1998). In the email list I observed "Bush Buster," "Lefty," and "Tufrmone" were a few regulars that had non-gender associated names. After reading some of their posts, I couldn't find anything in their writing that tagged them as a male or female. This proves that Danet's reference of "text as a mask" is a valid one (pg. 129). With gender shoved to the side, CMC communities allow users to communicate and debate with each other on an even playing field with all gender bias aside (Danet, 1998).

As I mentioned before, free riding and trolling are two common problems found with a CMC community. They disrupt the flow of the chat and community by causing everyone to stray off topic (Kollock and Smith, 1996). While observing the "Rumormillnews," I was quite surprised that I only came across one instance of both free riding and trolling. I believe the lack of disruption in the group was a result of the rules it had in place. The two main rules that stuck out were that messages require approval from the moderator and that no one could hide their email address. These rules gave the group a sense of control because if someone tried to post a disruptive comment it could either not be posted or the users email could be banned from the group. Another popular way for Yahoo groups to sift out the free riders and trolls is to require a membership to join a group. To obtain a membership you must give the group moderator your information and provide a short summary of why you would like to join that group.

The only instance of free riding that I came across in "Rumormillnews" was an advertisement. It was quite ironic that the advertisement was about an advertising agency. This post is a good example of free riding because it is totally irrelevant to the group's discussion and goals of providing late breaking news (Kollock and Smith, 1996). This example of free riding didn't seem to disrupt the members of the group too much, as there were no replies or complaints to the post.

The next instance of disruption was surprising because it came from the group's most common poster. This case of trolling was performed by the user John Stroebel, in the thread "McCain Has SERIOUS POW Problems." In the thread, the trolling occurred when Stroebel replied to the user "Tufrmone" and finished his reply by saying "And assholes like you spit in the memory of the men never accounted for." To me this instance of trolling happened because Stroebel was offended on a personal level in what Turfrmone wrote. The understanding is there on why this happened, but I believe it was an unnecessary response to it. Stroebel could have understood nothing was meant by it and kept it to himself, keeping the emotion out of the discussion. This post is actually the last one that I observed in the group, which generates some interest for me to see if any other member became offended by the post.

By observing "Rumormillnews" for the past five days, I have witnessed the different type of interactions that occur within CMC communities. Throughout the five days there was superb discussion and articles posted on news topics. These topics ranged anywhere from political and financial news to science related news. The idea of text removing gender bias association was also seen within this email list and proves to be bringing everyone onto a gender equal level (Danet, 1998). The advancements of the Internet and the CMC communities are proving to bring the world closer together, creating global communities. If the effort continues to filter out the problems of free riding and trolling, we may soon see a virtual world where everyone can contribute equally without receiving any gender or culturally biased opinions from others.


1. 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.

2. 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.


Day 5 Observations

This is my last day of observations for the Rumor mill news group. The group has a total of 1,296 members and was created on December 28, 2002. The group is under the category of conspiracy theory. After observing for the last five days, I have concluded that this group strays away from this categorization and mainly provides different angles on current events. The few rules to this group are email attachments are not acceptable, members cannot hide their email address and messages require approval from the moderator of the group. The yahoo group site has a history of messages per month since the group was created. This group seemed to be the most active in 2003, after it was first created. The Rumor Mill News contains its own web page separate from the yahoo group page. I visited this site and discovered that it is cluttered with advertisements up and down each side of the page. The site has its own reading room and other than that seems quite useless. In the past 5 days I have noticed there has been few accounts of common problems usually found in a CMC community. I have only seen one account of possible trolling and free riding. Gender masking is also a possibility in this group because I saw quite a few general names.

Day 4 Observations

best excuse for give away's I ever heard

and those neocons....always whining we CAN'T give food stamps nd medical
care and housing to the poor....

poor them this time...right?


This is a response written by John Stroebel in my email list. I chose to single out this reply, to show how informal most responses are. This response shows that many people within the group must know who he is. Stroebel ended up getting five responses to this reply along with a totally irrelevant response from the user Lefty. This shows possible trolling in the group. In my next observation I intend to get even more specific on events within the group and point out possible trolls or free riders.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Defining Web 2.0

To define Web 2.0, you must first understand the concepts that constructed Web 1.0. In the article, "What is Web 2.0," Tim O'Reilly does a superb job in doing so. He starts off the article by providing a comparison chart between the Web 1.0 and 2.0 technologies, which provides a good start into understanding their differences. O'Reilly then goes in depth, by comparing two similar technologies from both Web 1.0 and 2.0.

The first example is between the software companies of Netscape (Web 1.0) and Google (Web 2.0). In this example, O'Reilly explains how the idea behind Netscape was to act as a "platform for the Internet through a web browser" (pg. 4). Netscape also chose to license and sell their software. This was a common idea behind Web 1.0. On the other hand Google was a free service application that was available to everyone and it also contained a strong data base (pg. 4). As mentioned later in the article by O'Reilly, this type of data base is a key design pattern of Web 2.0 (pg. 22). Another example that is given by O'Reilly is the comparison of Web 1.0's Akamai to Web 2.0's BitTorrent. He mentions that "BitTorrent becomes more efficient as the amount of users on the application increase" (pg. 8). This is a unique characteristic of Web 2.0 technologies, as it allows each user to add their own bandwidth to the server. On the other hand, "Akamai would have to add more servers and not users to increase efficiency" (pg.8).

In the rest of article, O'Reilly goes into describing the key characteristics that help describe what Web 2.0 is. The long tail is another idea behind Web 2.0 that I have not mentioned. O'Reilly defines this as when a service or application "reaches out to the edges of the Internet" (pg. 22).

One principle of Web 2.0 that interests me is the idea that licenses and protection should be limited (O'Reilly, 2005). O'Reilly states that this should be done to promote improvisation in Web 2.0 technologies (pg. 22). I believe that this characteristic can help towards the advancement of the Internet, but at the same time it can also hurt the companies helping to do so. A major problem that has occurred within the Web 2.0 era is the pirating of software. As a participant in this myself, I have seen users of the Internet take key principles of Web 2.0 and use it for exploitation. Applications such as BitTorrent, have been a common ground for the sharing and a rather easy access to these pirated and hacked copies of software. These practices have left many companies out of money and should be watched, as the Internet continues to advance.


1. 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

Day 3 Observations

I began to focus more on a single user with my observations. The user that I have shifted my focus onto is John Stroebel. Mr. Stroebel is by far the most active member in this email list. He tends to focus all of his posts and replys on news that deals with the countries issues and the upcoming presidential election. His views are opinionated at times, but he seems to know what he is talking about. I also noticed a few wise cracks on an article that states "McCain lacks POW." My favorite response was by the user Tufrmone, who responded with "Old Age."

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Day 2 Observations

In today's observations, I went into a little more depth with the reading. I noticed that most people in the group send a summary of the article and their thoughts along with a link to the article. This group happens to be an extremely active email list. With there being over 30 posts in the past two days. I also came across my first incident of free riding, which was a promotion for an advertisement firm. As I expected, most of the news continued to follow the political theme.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Email List Observations Day 1

After some searching, I joined a yahoo email list group called Rumormillnews. This group offers a wide range of news, 24 hours a day. Lately, I have been trying to keep up with the world, so I figured this would be a good way to help that effort. While scrolling through and reading some articles, I realized that this email list had no advertisments on it. Most of the posts were dominated by by political news and there was also a good amount of information on the recent financial crisis. Many of the posts also offered links to news videos.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Response to Whitaker on new media and web production

For class today, I read the chapter "New media and web production," out of the book, The Internet: the basics, by Jason Whitaker. In the first part of the chapter, much is mentioned of the significant route media has recently taken. Media has now changed over from analog to digital form. The analog form presents information that is taken in its original, continuous form. Digital information contrasts from this because it takes a piece of this original form and translates it into 1's and 0's, which is known as binary code. The computer then decodes the binary code and uses an output, such as a speaker or monitor to present this information (Whitaker, 2002). Whitaker focuses on this advancement in media throughout the chapter. He explains how this step has made the editing of audio, images and video much less complex. Instead of going through the arduous process manually, you can now digitize a picture and change its colors or contrasts through image editing software (Whitaker, 2002.)

In this chapter, Whitaker also gives an in depth and complex background of digital imaging, audio and video. Whitaker explains how the idea of hypertext originated from a draft of a "mechanically linked information retrieval machine, known as Memex" (pg. 59). This idea was created by Vannevar Bush, and had the cross referencing technology that influenced Tim Berner-Lee's, HTML creation. The rest of the chapter is a basic beginner's guide to web production. He mentions the basics of HTML code (hyper text mark-up language) and the different elements that creates a website. The part of the chapter on web development, focuses on color, images, text and layout as being a major part of creating a functional website (Whitaker, 2002).

Whitaker starts off by loading the reader with mass information on the history behind media technologies. It was a good idea to give background information, but it was rather played out in the extent that he did it in. The backgrounds on digital imaging, audio and video interested me because they laid out a concrete image of how far the internet and media has come. It is incredible how digitizing media has allowed us to use cell phones and other hand held devices to view information (Whitaker, 2002). I believe we also need to be careful in the ways we use this technology. I previously watched a segment on the news about image enhancing in movies. The case was about a movie studio enhancing the breasts of Keira Knightley. This shows that people are using this technology to try and appeal to the world in ways that seem wrong and immoral. It is a true advantage to have these new technologies such as digital imaging, but we have to watch out for the misleading information it can bring.


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

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Reading Response to Kollock and Smith : Managing a computer-mediated communication system

When the Internet was created not much was known of computer-mediated communication systems. As packet switching was developed in the 1980's and data could now be sent quickly throughout the Internet, the possibility of online communities became a reality. As mentioned by Kollock and Smith in their passage "Managing the virtual commons," the first public community on the Internet was created in 1981 and is known as Usenet. Usenet functioned as a massive bulletin board system and was made up of different newsgroups with each one serving different topics of interest. As the successor to ARPANET, Usenet became an extremely popular CMC (computer-mediated communication) system and thus a large online community was created. To communicate with others on Usenet a simple text editor is needed to post and reply to others. When a post is created it is sent to everyone who is part of the newsgroup. In Usenet newsgroups consisted of every topic imaginable including anywhere from a current event group to a horror movie group (Kollock and Smith, 1996).

In a computer-mediated community face-to-face contact is left out. On Usenet the main communication was through text and some audio. This brings up an issue on how similar an online community is to a real community with face-to-face contact (Kollock and Smith, 1996). To understand how an online community works you must first understand how a real community is managed. As mentioned by Ostrom, in Kollock and Smith's passage, a community that is organized and able to govern themselves has a set list of principles. They are their boundaries are defined, the community has a set of rules and institutions and the behavior of the community according to the rules is effectively monitored and sanctioned.

In Usenet these working face-to-face community principles are implemented. The boundaries of the newsgroups are set up by the name of the group which helps sift out people that aren't interested in the topic and keep free riding to a minimum. Also available are private groups which keep unwanted newcomers out of the newsgroup. As I just mentioned free riding is the biggest problem of Usenet. Many newsgroups contain FAQs which state the rules and regulations of the group and help control free riding. For those of you unsure on what free riding is, some common examples are posting off topic, posting too much (effects the Usenet bandwidth), asking questions and not answering them, and leeching off of other peoples information which is known as lurking on Usenet (Kollock and Smith, 1996).

I agree with Kollock and Smith as sanctioning these free riders and users who don't cooperate with the rules, to be the biggest downfall of CMC communities. Since there is only contact through text in these communities it is difficult to keep people from straying from the norm. Without face-to-face contact there are really no painful consequences for those who consistently disrupt the newsgroups. People can spam many newsgroups at a time with ads and make fun of other users without any serious action taken. The worst thing that can happen to a rebel user is a ban on their account and this can easily be bypassed if the user wants to create another account and keep generating havoc (Kollock and Smith, 1996). I believe this is why a CMC community can never be considered as a real community. A lot is there in a CMC community that resembles that of a face-to-face community, but without the proper enforcement in is more like that of an unruly jungle. I like the way computer-mediated communication is going and I believe it can accomplish a lot in interconnecting the world. Usenet was a good start in this process and with some more beneficial ways of enforcing rules in these online communities like ISP bans or fines. I realize this might be hard to track and implement, but when signing up for an account, if more personal information is given such as your drivers liscense number, this could become possible to do. If these sanctions are taken you might someday see a CMC sytem as a true, functioning community.


1. 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.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

First Essay - 5 Defining Characteristics of the Internet

Media is an essential tool for people, that allows them to connect themselves to the rest of the world as well as being a form of entertainment. Many forms of media exist such as television, radio, the newspaper and the Internet. The television allows users to watch recorded and live video whether it being the news or their favorite show. The radio allows users to listen to audio and the newspaper paper functions as a set of text and still images for users to read. However, while each of these have their own set function to communicate media to the world, the Internet is the medium that can take all of these different functions and put them together (Adams & Clark).

The Internet has five defining characteristics that allows it to be the only media that includes video, audio, text and still images at the same time. The Internet is hyper-textual, interactive, digital, packet based and multi-mediated. These 5 characteristics makes the Internet unique and the most popular communication medium (Adams & Clark).

One of the most important characteristics of the Internet is the fact that it is hyper-textual. Hyper-textual comes from the creation of the hypertext markup language. This language was developed by Tim Berners-Lee in 1990 and allowed for easy navigation throughout the Internet. To further explain, hypertexuality is the underlined words in an article or story on the Internet that are actually links that bring you to another page when they are clicked on. These links usually bring you to a page that further explains something within the article or story. Hypertexuality is a unique characteristic and helps the Internet separate itself from the other media available(Adams & Clark).

The multivocality that is brought to the Internet by the html language leads into the next defining characteristic of the Internet. Interactivity is truly what gives you a different experience than watching television or listening to the radio. The hypertextuality of the Internet allows you to control where you go. Unlike other media you have a choice on what you want to watch, listen to or read. With there being hundreds of millions of websites to choose from on the Internet it makes your options endless. The interactivity of the Internet also gives you the option of communication with other people. Many programs are built for this person to person interaction on the Internet such as instant messaging and email. Even if you are in the mood to be a social butterfly, chat rooms and forums are also available for your use. Computer programs developed for the Internet also allow you to receive information such as weather and other topics you are interested in. All of these options of communication and entertainment available should alone make the Internet different than any other media (Adams & Clark).

With other media, the reliability is not always there. The Internet is packet based which allows it to separate itself in terms of reliability from other forms of media. Packet switching is when a data file is cut up into pieces called packets. These packets are labeled with their origin, place in the file and their final destination. The thing that makes packet switching such a useful characteristic of the Internet is that if one packet can't make it to its destination it is resent again and re-routed another way to reach its destination successfully (Packet switching definition, 2005). The packet switching process was developed because of the possibility of a nuclear attack during the cold war. This means that if there was an attack people outside of the attack zone could communicate to people on the other side. If you tried to send a radio wave or television signal through the attack zone they would be broken up. The fact that packet switching is so versatile, makes the Internet the most reliable medium (Adams & Clark).

Digitalization is another paramount characteristic of the Internet. Without being able to make files digital the packet switching process wouldn't work and the Internet wouldn't be where it is today. The digitalization of a file is when the file is put into binary code which is a bunch of ones and zeros. The computer then can take the codes (stands of 1's and 0's) and decode the file which would then show up as the original file on a monitor. This is a huge advantage over carrying around physical files. For example imagine carrying around 2 gigabytes of music. That could be up to 20 cd's you would have to carry around compared to a 2 gigabyte flash drive. Being able to compress data such as music is one of the most useful features of digitalization. Another option would being able to store your physical data as digital data online on servers for easy access from other places that provide the Internet(Adams & Clark).

As I mentioned before, the Internet is the only communication medium that can present a user with still images, video, audio and text at the same time. The ability to show a user this all at the same time makes the internet multimediated source. Television and books are also multimediated but not in such a way as the Internet is. This characteristic makes the Internet not boring. If you get bored with reading an article you can click on a video that gives you a brief summary of it. It's also possible to look at a picture and get a general idea if you want to read it or not. These multimedia options give so many different ways in absorbing information depending on your mood and make it fun while your doing it (Adams & Clark).

The Internet is full of advantages that make using it more simple, entertaining and worth your time over any other media. It allows you to do anything from communicating with one another to easily obtaining information that is personalized to your liking. The five characteristics that I mentioned without a doubt define the Internet and make it possible to be the communication powerhouse it is today.


1. Adams, & Clark, C. What is it? characteristics of the medium.

2. The linux information project.(2005). Packet switching definition.
Retrieved September 7, 2008 from

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Ultimate Communication Medium

Our choice on how we send and receive information has vastly increased over the past century into an endless amount of options. Whether it's watching the latest news events on your television or sending a birthday card via the postal system, information has become more accessible to everyone of this new, information needy world.

What if you need to send that birthday card in one day across the country? As you know that would be impossible due to the restrictions on speed of the postal service medium. Speed is a major restriction of many communication mediums along with the distribution and reliability of the information. The one communication medium that can come closest to satisfying all of these needs is the Internet. In the reading by Adams & Clark, much was discussed on the advantages of the internet and it being the best source for communicating. I agree with this statement as most anyone will. The internet now has the ability to relay real time information via pack switching and the increased speeds brought by digitization of information such as video and pictures. If you want to find out the score of a baseball game you will be able to do this down to seconds delay. The internet also allows interpersonal communication between two people to happen at extreme speeds. With the software being cheap, it is now easy to set up voice over ip chats where you can synchronously chat and see one another over great distances. The internet also allows quick asynchronous chat as well via the email system.

I do believe the internet has some paramount advantages and is by far the most useful communication medium. I mean where else can you control the information you want to see via a hyper textual language. The human is the internet. We are the ones who create what we want to see and know. With these advantages come many constraints that the internet brings to us due to this massive medium of information. The internet is flooded with wrong and biased information. Due to the fact that anyone can be an author on the internet you must be aware and carefully filter the information you are looking for. I would have to say the biggest affordance of the internet is also its biggest constraint. The ease to access information on the internet at great speeds also allows people to discover personal information on you and others via many different methods. By all means the advantages outweigh these minor disadvantages and the internet will remain to be the ultimate communication medium.