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