Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Final Essay (draft)

YouTube is a video sharing web-site that has revolutionized the way we share information, share culture, and the way we communicate. Its users can view and upload videos. This allows for people to interact with the site in many ways. Users can just watch videos that are posted by others and not have to contribute anything to the site. The uploading feature on the other hand can allow registered users to add their own video’s to this large stock of already uploaded videos. This allows people to come and go to this online community as they please, whether it is just the occasional viewing of, or uploading of videos, or the hardcore user that does both as much as they can.

YouTube was created in 2005 by three men who where former employees of Pay Pal.(Rose 2008) Their names are Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim (Hopkins 2008). The men created the website because of the realization that video sharing was fairly difficult in the times before YouTube. It was created for anyone and everyone who had access to a computer and the internet, and that’s exactly who uses it. Previously statistics stated that the majority of the demographic are middle aged. Now recent research is saying that the age group is broadening (Donnell 2008). Of course not everyone has heard of YouTube or is interested in using it, but it is hard to point out a specific group of people who do use it. People from every demographic are involved, from the youngest, to the oldest, upper, middle, and lower class. Even companies and organizations use it.

YouTube was created for the purpose of video sharing, and now it provides many functions. One of the most obvious and popular functions is entertainment. People can get lost for hours viewing other’s videos. One of the features of YouTube is that you can search the site for whatever topic or subject you want. The search will bring up all of the videos that land under the key terms used to search. The feature that can get you stuck watching video after video is that when one is clicked on to view; other related videos will pop up underneath it. So, there is easy access to the videos that the user would find most interesting based on their previous selection. Some of the other functions entail art, advertising, communication, journalism (Professional and non-professional), Blogging, and online journals. Online journal sites like LiveJournal are becoming more and more popular, and YouTube can achieve the same kind of function, but with video. This allows for a more intimate and media rich involvement and it seems that being media rich is one of the most important aspects of this web 2.0 medium. The last function I want to mention is that YouTube can have a huge impact on our history. Many events and of the present and past are posted on this web site. I believe that since these videos are so much more accessible then they recently were it allows for more exposure to these events. These events would include everything from historic boxing matches to Dr. Martin Luther King speeches, and events like the Mumbai terror attacks that just recently happened in India.

YouTube has created a culture which keeps growing more and more every day. It may have started as just a quick way to upload and share videos, and a fun source of entertainment, but now it has a following. Many of the users know what the latest hit video is and even share its content with people who are not even in the YouTube community. People react to other videos by making their own and posting it, they also blog and leave comments about other videos. There are even awards given out every year to congratulate the best videos in several different categories (YouTube 2008). Some people even become somewhat famous from there videos, even appearing on shows like Late Night with Jay Lenno, and signing record deals. This is a pretty powerful tool. There has never been a way like the one YouTube provides that can allow you to make yourself famous. (Rose 2008)

YouTube’s success is based on its ability to grow and adapt with the ever changing internet environment. This is the characteristic that has allowed many things to be successful in changing environments, even humans and animals. The way YouTube does it is through its creators and overseer’s commitment to stay up to date and be flexible. It is also because of the one of the latest feature that allows its own community police itself. When joining the YouTube community and registering to upload videos to it, there is list of terms you must agree with before posting. If any of content that is posted that is unacceptable based on these guidelines, it is the community’s job to flag the video. This allows for the overseers to take action quicker to determine if it does indeed violate the terms. If it does then it is removed (YouTube 2008). Of course this does allow for some offensive content to be posted for short amount of time. Another element that makes YouTube so successful is that it allows you to connect with other web 2.0 technologies and in turn they can link back. It has links to MySpace and Facebook. So not only can people share videos with each other on YouTube, but they can have links to YouTube videos through their other social networking pages. So even people who are not persistent YouTube users can still be exposed to the YouTube world. This YouTube culture is growing right along with the internet, and is proving to be rather dominant.

Based on the popularity and success YouTube it seems safe to assume that there are many benefits that go along with this new technology. What I believe is the most important benefit of YouTube is that it has a powerful ability to bring people from all over the world together and expose each other to foreign cultures. For example, in my recent research I have seen many things that I would have probably not ever had a chance to see in my life. I watched a video called “Bus Uncle”. It shows two oriental men arguing on a bus. This may not seem important at first, and even though it’s just an argument, it is interesting to see how other cultures interact with each other, and what kind of things they value. We can learn a lot from other cultures and YouTube is full of these lessons. It is not just people in the U.S posting these videos; it’s people from all around the world. Another important benefit is that some things you have to see to believe or to understand. People say a picture says a thousand words, so how many does a video? Some things are just hard to explain and even more than that, some people have a hard time understanding things without being able to see it. A simple example of this would be trying to explain to a child how to tie their shoe. It would prove to be much easier to just show them. Another extremely important benefit of YouTube is that it is becoming another way to get the news without the bias of Mainstream media. Before technologies like this one we depended mostly on the gatekeepers on the dominant news channels, where it was on T.V or in Newspapers. Now we are able to see things from around the world from other people’s views, and even things we would have never been able to see in the News. The last and maybe most obvious benefit I want to bring up is the fact that now videos are much easier to share with people. If you live far away from someone you are trying to share a video with them, instead of sending a hard copy to someone, or sending it through an email and hoping they have a video player that will play the same type of video you took, you can now be much more efficient with this process.

Although YouTube has many benefits there are some negative implications. The first one is something that I mentioned earlier, and entails inappropriate content on this site. People complain that because of the way that YouTube polices its site, offensive, graphic, harmful, and sometimes malicious content is able to be posted on the site for usually short amount of time (Lang 2007). The problem people are having is that they don’t care how long it is there for; it’s the fact that it can even have the opportunity to be there at all. Their opinion is that the damage has already been done once it is shown. People’s reputations can be ruined instantly. Also rumors can be spread at alarming rates. Another complaint that I have heard about through my own investigation is that people can post videos of you without you even knowing. Some of the people that I have spoken with recently stated that they have had videos posted of themselves on the internet that portrayed them in an unfavorable light. They also stated they didn’t find out about it for a fairly long amount of time. The next major downfall with YouTube is its problem with copyright infringement. Many people have complained that YouTube allows for people to violate these laws too easily. People post T.V Shows, movie clips, music, and many other copyright protected content. Even though YouTube has taken steps to try to avoid this it still happens. The first thing YouTube tried was to set a ten minute limit to video posts, since many of the ones that where longer contained this type of content. The next step they took was to create a database that contained copyrighted content that could be checked against videos that were being uploaded. In reaction to these complaints YouTube says that their stagey for policing is the best that they can come up with and actually is very effective. Compared to the amount of videos posted on YouTube, the ones that violate terms are miniscule, and are usually taken care of promptly. The last negative implication I want to mention is that, due to not only some of these problems above, but the revealing nature of these videos, YouTube is actually blocked or filtered in some countries. It proves to be a dilemma that something that has such a strong power to bring people together can on the other hand tare them apart.

In conclusion, YouTube has proven its strength and popularity and seems to have a good chance of sticking around for a long time. It has already left its mark in history and will continue to do so as long as we have a need for this type of web 2.0 technology. It is this type of ingenuity that has brought the people closer together and flattened out world. To think, in 2007 YouTube took up as much bandwidth as the entire internet did in 2000, and even though it wasn’t that long ago, it actually seems hard to imagine a time when we didn’t have this luxury. (Carter 2007)

Hopkins, Jim. (2008, December 2) Surprise! There's a third YouTube co-founder. USA Today. Retrieved from

(2008, December 1) YouTube Community Guide lines. Retrieved from

Carter, Lewis. (2009, December 3) Web could collapse as video demand soars. Daily Telegraph
Retrieved from on.

(2008, December 1) YouTube 2007 Awards. Retrieved from

Rose, Charlie. (2009, December 3). Charlie Rose - Preview of interview with YouTube Co-founders [Video file]. Video posted to

SO’Donnell, Gibson, K. Milliken, M. Singer, J.(2008). Reacting to YouTube Videos: Exploring Differences Among User Groups. NRC-CNRC. Retrieved from

Lang, Pg. Fellow, P. Tampa, P.(2007). Commenting on comments: Investigating responses to antagonism on YouTube. Retrieved from

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

November 24's reading

November 24, 2008’s reading for com 430z was titled “Fitting our Tools to a Small World” by Clay Skirky, which was published in 2008, in the ninth chapter of the book Here comes everybody: The power of organizing without organizations.

The main ideas of this chapter were about the new tools that are creating more support for social networking and how important social capital is. Some of the tools mentioned are; Myspace, Facebook, LiveJournal, Xanga, and dodgeball. These new FOAF (friend of a friend) networking tools are described as helping us with this new way of looking at social networks. He breaks down some new studies and theories on how and why social networks start, and how some can become so large and important. In the conclusion the author explains how these networks can help us in life, and in work. I have to agree it seems to me that the more people you know the better off you are. For instance, I am good friends with a mechanic so I don’t have to give an arm and leg every time I need my car fixed, or just want some advice with car trouble. Also, my brother is a carpenter so when I need something fixed in my house the same thing applies. So I can imagine if I knew politicians, famous actors, or any other kind of people with special talents, power, and influences. I would also like to add that most people find jobs through their friends and acquaintances. The more of friends and acquaintances, the more of a selection you will have in choosing your careers, or jobs.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Nov 12ths reading

November 12, 2008’s reading for com 430z was titled “Shout into the wind, and it shouts back.” by Lori Kendall, which was published in 2007, online in First Monday, volume 12, under Identity and interactional tensions on LiveJournal. This was retrieved on August 21, 2008 from http:/

This reading was about a weblogging system called LiveJournal. The name basically spells out what this system is intended for, which is online journals. This system also contains built-in social networking features. In this reading the author explains her hands-on research of LiveJournal and many of the concerns and problems that can occur with this technology. The first problem that she brings up is that Journals are originally supposed to be private. When they are put online, this isn’t the case anymore. Even know not everybody can gain access to your journal the main idea around LiveJournal is that information can be made public. So a problem occurs when people want privacy, but still would like some kind of feedback from an audience. The next problem that occurs is that: in life most people keep friend and family networks separated to some degree. Form Lori’s experience and research many people’s networks were colliding leaving the person in the middle not able to show their different sides to the different networks. A good example of this would be that most people don’t speak to their mother the way they speak to their friends. Another problem that LiveJournal runs into is that people can use built-in features to filter what information is accessible to whom. This can obviously help out with privacy issues, but it can also hinder connections between people. The last problem the author brings up is that people want comments from others, but most people don’t comment on many issues, usually just trivial issues.
Her thought on this is that people don’t want to be seen in a different light then the one they are portraying on LiveJournal, and taking a side or giving a piece of mind might do exactly that.

Essay, Blogging @merica

My assignment for com340z was to find a blog that I was interested in and then participate in it. I chose a blog called The Movie Blog. I watch a lot of movies and I would like to get into the entertainment business one day, so this is something I thought I could relate to. On The Movie Blog there is a list of articles that deal with the latest news in the film business. This usually includes movies, actors, directors, producers, and many other topics like these. The only thing you need to be able to blog on this site is a username and an e-mail address.

I want to relate my blogging experience on The Movie Blog to something that I have studied in my com340z class. I chose the chapter titled “The Blogs in Society” in Aaron Barlow’s book, Blogging @merica. In the summary that I previously wrote I spoke about two perspectives that Barlow mentioned in this chapter. From my experience with The Movie Blog I see a little of both of these perspectives showing through. The first being that blogging is basically useless and is not even relevant in the real world, and the second being that the blogging community is a real world, and maybe even more real than the one we live in.

I recently wrote an essay on my previous blogging experience, which consisted of me following a blog and analyzing what I was witnessing. The difference between the last project and this one is that this time I was actually involved in the blogging. I got to post my own ideas and really get a good feel on how blogging worked. In Barlow’s book he mentions that studying blogging and being involved in blogging are two different things. I have to agree with him for the most part. Some of the things that I noticed before, when I was just observing the blogs, still held true when I was participating. But I have to admit I would never have understood it the way I do now if I had not participated. I would say that holds true for many other situations. You never really know about something until you try it yourself.

The first prospective I want to talk about states that blogging is basically useless and is not even relevant in the real world. I see how people can say something like this. On The Movie Blog I really didn’t know who anyone was. I feel like I got to know them a little, and I know the longer I stayed on the more I could figure out, but I still don’t really know them. Even if I was friends with some of the people outside of the blog, there were still people who just stumbled across the blog, or that only visited it once in awhile. My point is that in a blog like the one I was evolved in, there is a sense that nothing is what it seems. People can be whoever they want on this blog, and more importantly say whatever they want, and this can make the whole interaction feel kind of false. Barlow mentions this feeling of false interaction, and then explains how people can use this anonymous interaction to spoil relevant conversation. I did experience comments like these. Although none of them were malicious like the one’s Barlow spoke about, I can see how people’s false statements and rumors could be passed around as the truth very easily on this blog.

The other side of this argument states that the blogging community is necessary and is a real world, and maybe even more real than the one we live in. Barlow brings up the fact that much of blogging is done between people who would not be considered gatekeepers, and this is a good way for our world to grow. Gatekeepers choose the types of information that gets let out into the public. When we can find a way around gatekeepers, we get to talk about things that we would have never heard about. Now with my blog it is not as detrimental that we make our way through gatekeepers then say, talking about things in government that the government doesn’t want us to talk about, but it still is important. My blog is about the entertainment business, but it is still good that we can talk about the issues that we want to. Some of the topics we talked about weren’t mainstream, but were things I really found interesting. Even know the articles that we talked about were picked by people, I still didn’t feel like they were forced topics, and like I said they weren’t really things I had heard about anywhere else.

In the end I think that both sides of these arguments have good points. I have to side with the fact that blogging is important. I think anything that brings people together is important. I also do agree that there is a large amount of blogging that is useless and downright annoying, but if I had to chose to get ride of blogging or keep it based on what I have learned so far, I would diffidently choose to keep it. This is a very important public sphere and is a rather new phenomenon and may prove to be much more important than we could ever imagine.

Barlow, Aaron. (2008). Blogging America. Westport, CT: Praeger

Monday, November 10, 2008

7th day

Today is my 7th day on the movie blog. Over the weekend I didn’t post anything, but I spent a good amount of time just reading the articles and other people’s reactions. I am really starting to get a good feel for this site and a good idea of how blogging works. I feel more comfortable with what I am doing now, and I am sure the more I do this the more comfortable I will get. I also have a feeling I might be visiting the movie blog and maybe even posting after this assignment is done.

Today I posted about the new Sherlock Holmes movie coming out. I mostly focused on the fact that Robert Downey Jr. was playing in it. I was going to post on the top article about Batman, but by the time I was ready to do so everyone had basically said what I wanted to say, so I didn’t feel like I would have been contributing.

Friday, November 7, 2008

4th day

Today I was going to post a comment directed towards someone, but I saw a chance to be the first one to blog on a new story so I did it. This way I will be able to follow the interactions better. I hate leaving a comment after 30 people have already spoken their mind. This way I may have a better chance of somebody reacting to what I say. I also want to bring up that some responded to one of my comments. They said “NO”. It was the answer to a question whether or not I was making sense. It kind of made me feel stupid for a second.

I want to note that maybe I am blogging differently because for one, this activity is forced and not something I wanted to do, and also I have read so much about blogging that I am thinking into it too much. I keep trying to make sure I stay within the rules of blogging, and I have a feeling the more I think about it the less I achieve that.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

3rd day

Today I blogged on an article about Russell Brand. I also checked to see if anyone had commented on anything I have said so far, and it seems like I am the last person to post a comment for the two I have done already. I have a feeling I am talking about topics a little too late. I also have a feeling that some of these people realize I am a newcomer. Something I noticed, is the most of the comments were posted by the same people. I think next time I may try to post a comment directed towards one of these people.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

2 day

Today was my second day participating in The Movie Blog. It took me a little while to figure out what blog interested me the most, and to find what blog I could actually contribute to at least a little bit. I ended up choosing the blog at the top of the front page on the new Batman movie. I skipped this article in the beginning because I figured there would be something more interesting to me if I continued on, but I was wrong. I feel pretty good about my post today, and I think the more I do this the more comfortable I will feel. By the way, all of my posts are under the name Snow.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Ist day blogging

I looked around for awhile trying to find a blog that I would be interested in and one that I could actually figure out how to use. The last assignment we had was to just observe people blogging which proved to be fairly easy. Now we have to actually participate in them. Some of these blog sites can be a little tricky, especially if you’re not too sure what you are looking for. I know it seems weird that I am blogging about not being able to blog all that well, but I didn’t have to go out and find this blog site, it was provided for me. Well, I ended up choosing “movies and film” as a topic for my blogging, and found that even though this is a common topic on blogs, it is still hard to find exactly the kind of blog that you are looking for. Many of the topics located in movie blogs were things like adult film, celebrity gossip, and many other offshoots that I was not looking for. I began my search by using Technorati. I spent about a half-hour with it and finally got fed up. Then I went back to Google and typed in movie blogs and found what I was looking for. The Movie Blog is where I posted my first blog. The comment is on the article about Boondock Saints 2. And next time I post I will try make sure I spell everything correct before I submit. There is no editing these.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Blogs in Society

October 29, 2008’s reading for com 430z was titled “The Blogs in Society” by Aaron Barlow, which was published in 2008, in the second chapter of the book Blogging America.

Barlow mostly speaks about the arguments that are associated with blogs. The first argument he brings up is that people are saying blogging is basically useless and is not even related to the real world. People that support this idea state that because of the lack of identity, and responsibility associated with a known identity, people can post whatever they want to on the web. They can do this without any of the punishments that they would run into in the real world. Also, without this requirement for identity people can change their own and claim to be someone else. This can lead to much confusion and allows for rumors and false statements to be passed around as true. The last part of this argument is that people can interfere with relevant conversation by adding irrelevant and even malicious comments, which in turn has the power to render the blog channel useless. People get tired of all of the nonsense that a specific channel has acquired and ceases to use it anymore.

The other side of the argument states the complete opposite. It states that this blogging community is a real world, and maybe even more real. It is not censored by “professionals” and may contain more pure information and thoughts than we can see in our world today. For our world to grow and become less dependent on mainstream media, this bogging community may be a necessary mechanism. This kind of public gathering outside of the governments and mainstream media is what has in the past changed our world, and changed in for the better. Sifting through clutter may not be so bad when compared to that.

I believe the authors main message in talking about these two prospective is that there need to be some type of happy medium, which is usually the case in most types of arguments. He then goes on to give suggestion that maybe we need to look at this problem from a different prospective. It seems most people still look at the internet from a “literary” standpoint and maybe we should try to get a better understanding of “neteracy”. I believe his point is that older forms of print are much different than the forms we have and will continue to see on the web, and this is point I feel we have to agree on.

Friday, October 17, 2008


Searching the internet for reliable sources is becoming increasingly difficult. I remember when I first started doing research online for school projects about seven or eight years ago, there wasn’t nearly as much clutter on it as there is now. Mostly, I believe it is because of advertising, but I also believe it is that anyone can publish information on the web, and more and more people are doing so. Over the years this has accumulated in mass amounts. There is something that can help us through the clutter, and this is something I am just starting to get a better grasp on, especially after reading chapter 5 in Bonnie L. Tensen’s book, research strategies for a digital age.

I am doing a project for my com 430z class on Web 2.0 technologies. We had to choose one of these technologies and report on it. YouTube was the one that caught my interest the most. This is the part of the project where I have to find credible and reliable sources dealing with this topic, and then evaluate those sources, and explain how I came across them.
The first method I used to look up YouTube was through the search engine Google. I chose this because this is how I previously searched the internet no matter what I was looking for. This is of course before reading Tensen. I really wanted to get a firsthand look at the difference that knowledge about how search engines work can make on the efficiency and accuracy of researching. It turned out to be extremely significant. First I just used the key word “YouTube” and searched it on the main Google page. This, as I figured, brought me to a bunch of links that I didn’t need. These links were basically all either involved in viewing YouTube Videos or Creating YouTube Videos.

The nest step I decided to take was to use a tip from Tensen, which involved using Google’s built-in search categories. Since I am looking for reliable and easily sited information, I chose to use Google’s scholar search. This made a huge difference, it brought me to links to pages that had full texts and accredited sources, like these ones; “Youtube traffic characterization: a view from the edge”, “I Tube, You Tube, Everybody Tubes: Analyzing the World’s Largest User Generated Content Video System”, “Understanding the Characteristics of Internet Short Video Sharing: YouTube as a Case Study”,and Dot-Com Boom Echoed in Deal to Buy YouTube. All of which I found to be exactly the backed up information I needed.

My next step was to get more specific with my key terms. YouTube has a substantial amount of information about it on the web, and I needed to limit it down to a narrower topic, which I decided to be the history of YouTube. So, that’s what I chose for key terms “History of YouTube”. Surprisingly, at least to me, this really did give me what I was looking for. Many of the same kind of sites popped up. I also noticed that the second hit to pop up was one that didn’t really look all that scholarly. It was titled YouTube Nation, which I thought was going to be good, but after looking at it, it looked very much like a high school essay, or something of that nature. Even though the author cited all of the sources he/she used, there were a couple things that turned me away from this source. These are things that Tensen explains to look for. Number one was, like I said before, the way it appeared and its format. The second was that when I looked up the authors name I could not find anything out about him/her. And the third was that the page was only cited in one other place. Many of the other links were cited many more times than this. I am not going to completely rule this source out, but I think my best bet would be to get a second opinion.The next step I chose to take was to use some search engines and resources I have never heard of. These are the ones I took right out of Tensen’s book. I would like to note beforehand that I used all of the same key terms for all of the search engines. These terms consisted of “YouTube”, History of YouTube”, and “How YouTube began”. The first engine I used was called Suite101. This seems like a very good place to find credible information, but the closest thing I could find to my topic was an article called YouTube: Why Is it So Popular?. I like this search engine because even know many of the articles are written by freelance writers, I believe it requires its authors to provide background information and their credits. This site also provides links to the author’s previous work and other helpful information. The only thing I can think of being a flaw with this engine is that it doesn’t contain a very large amount of sources. Therefore its range may be limited which I found to be true with my topic. Next I used AltaVista. This search engine was fairly useful to me and I found a couple good sources here. The first was called YouTube - Successful Entrepreneurs, and this was the one I think was the most relevant to what I wanted. While searching the rest of the search engines I just recently discovered like; Academic Info, BUBL Link, The internet Public Library, and a couple others, I noticed that many of them did not have the kind of information that I was looking for. This is unfortunate because all of these sites contained well back information that was easy to evaluate. The only reason I can think of for them not having what I wanted is because it is a fairly new topic and maybe in time they will have more information on it. I do want to say that in the future I will use these tools to do research, because I know if I do find what I am looking for it will be reliable. They are set up much like the Suite101 site that I described earlier

The last thing on my agenda was to find at least two sources in the library in my school. I came up with these two; The Web 2.0 Visual Glossary and YouTube, which I found on Ebsco. These seemed to be very dependable sources. Like most things published in print they had everything I needed to use to do my homework on the information. I believe just by looking at how much time and effort was put into these sources that the authors really cared about what they were doing, and this usually proves to pay off in the sense that they did their homework.

Overall, I think this part of the project really helped me. I have a much better sense of direction now, plus I have completed much of my research. I also think that Tensen’s book really helped. And just because I couldn’t use many of the search engines she recommended, she still helped give me good criteria for evaluating the sources that I did find. I also know that I will be able to use the search engines later on in life.

Wasserman, Todd (2006). YOUTUBE. Brandweek. 47( 37) pM14-M17. Retrieved from

Skiba, Diane J. 2007 Nursing Education Perspectives. Nursing Education 2.0: You Tube. 28 (2). p100-102. Retrieved from

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


October 8, 2008’s reading for com 430z was titled “The role of expertise in navigating links of influence” by Eszter Hargittai, which was published in 2008 in Joseph Turow and Lokman Tsui (Ed), The hyperlinked society: questioning connections in the digital age.

This reading focuses on links and the involvement of content producers and users on the internet. Links are the most popular way to navigate on the web, and the Hargittai suggests that the awareness and knowledge of internet users can help them direct themselves through these links. Knowing how search engines work, especially one’s personal favorite, can help users avoid all the clutter on the web and get to where they want to be. Knowledge will also help you if you are a content producer. You need to know your audience and how knowledgeable they are with the web. The author basically says to do your homework, more specifically in these areas: general user savvy, users’ understanding of search engins rankings, and users’ understanding of links in e-mails. She then shares what she has learned so far.

Hargittai also explains how search engines work and he provides a brief history of how search engines first operated. Search engines would use the operator “or” to find relative sites. In other words, the engine would only bring up sites for at least one of the terms entered in by the user. Now, they search by using the operator “and”, which includes all terms entered by the user. This obviously brings about a significantly larger amount of hits, and makes it harder to find what you are looking for.

In conclusion I think this is a very helpful topic, especially nowadays. Breaking through all of the clutter is proving to be more of a challenge every day. I also agree that most people don’t even realize, or take the time to think about, how these search engines really work. I know I didn't. I would aslo like to add that I believe that the Hargittai did a good job of explaining it, especially with the most popular ones like Google, Yahoo, Digg, and Riddet.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Essay on Free-Riding and Google Groups

I have been observing a computer-mediated communication channel on the internet called Google Groups. It is part of what is considered to be the Usenet system. In observing Google Groups the “free-rider”(Kollock & Smith p.110) problem proved to be extremely immanent. As the web and the internet expand, "free-riding" is becoming more and more of a problem that needs to be addressed, and from what I have learned and observed so far I have a feeling this problem may be here to stay. It proves to be a difficult, if not, impossible task to keep a mass amount of anonymous people under control. In the process of trying to terminate the free rider problem, Google Groups and many other Usenet channels, have made adjustments that either help to diminish free-rider efforts, or at least cut through the clutter that is accumulated through their actions, but no one has figured out the solution.

The Usenet is one of the largest computer-mediated communication systems on the internet (Kollock & Smith p.111). Google Groups is just one of the channels that make up this system. Google Groups is basically an online bulletin board. People leave messages for other members in their group to read and comment on. These groups are separated by topic and the members are all supposed to interact, and contribute useful information to each other based on these topics. The point of this communication channel is to provide a way for a mass amount of people to share ideas, opinions, information, and even to just interact with each other about specific topics and issues. This is useful because many of these people would have probably never have had a chance to interact before, and this can provide an effective way for the spread of information to take place.

These Google Groups are effective in the spread of information, but there is an issue that is hindering what could be the maximum efficiency of Google Groups and the other channels involved in this Usenet system. I was first introduced to the idea of the free-rider problem in my Com430Z class recently. One of the readings that I was assigned was called “Managing the Virtual Commons”. It was written by Peter Kollock and Marc Smith, and was published in Computer-mediated communication: Linguistic, social and cross-cultural perspectives, in 1996. The term “free-rider” (p.110) had a different meaning to me before I read this article. I previously believed that the term referred to people who were just looking for a free ride in the perspective that they would use other people’s information and ideas for their own benefit and not contribute anything back. This is a big part of what the term means, but from the reading I realized that people who try to disrupt the order of these communication channels, by veering away from the topic, advertising, or just posting comments that have no meaning or relevance, are also considered to be free-riders.

Since the beginning, the internet has been intended for the use of communication. Communication channels like Google Groups obviously fulfill this intention. From my observation of the channel I chose to research, I really got a chance to get a good look at this free-riding problem up close. I chose a Google Group labeled This group’s topic is basically food, and involves anything that has to do with it. Some examples would be recipes, cooking, and other food related issues. Right in the beginning of my observation I noticed that many people weren’t talking about anything even remotely close to this topic. People were posting inappropriate comments, advertisements, and engaging in conversation that could not be considered useful to the topic at hand. The problem with this is that the people who created this Google Group did it for a reason, and now there is so much clutter that the purpose is being diluted. For example, if I wanted to see what the latest recipe someone had posted was, I would have to sort through a significant amount of “junk” to try to find what I was looking for. Google has come up with ideas and features to try to help solve this problem. The group I observed has search tools to help narrow down what you are looking for by title. This really does help the situation, but people still post comments under titles that don’t match the content. This group also has a list of popular topic on the side of its page where the comments are posted. This also acts as a search tool. The next feature is that there is a way for profiles to be created. This could serve to be helpful when trying to determine the integrity of comments and information being posted. Another feature is that you can engage in a more direct chat with whomever you wanted to. Even though these all could be very useful, the fact that people can still lie and/or chose to be anonymous still hinders the efficacy of this channel and others like it. The two features that seemed like they could be most effective were the fact that you can’t post comments unless you were a member, and that you could report comments to be investigated. These would defiantly help cut down on clutter.

Free-riding affects everyone on the web using these communication channels, whether they realize it or not. It discourages people from using these communication channels; therefore information that could be very useful to others will not reach the vast audience that these channels provide. It also discourages people by taking away from their efforts and letting free-riders reap the benefits of their hard work. Maybe the reason for all of this is because people don’t stop and think about how this really affects us. One person may not realize how all this junk accumulates to form what I would call “Internet Pollution”. Another reason this may happen is because there are really no sound penalties or punishments for these actions. The only thing we can hope for is that the effort to stop this free-riding problem will continue, and maybe later on down the road we can find the solution.

Kloolock, Peter & Smith, Marc. (1196). Managing the virtual commons: Cooperation and conflict in the computer communities. Is Susan C. Herring (Ed.), Computer-mediated communication: Linguistic, social and cross-cultural perspectives (pp.109-128). Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

5th day on Google Groups

This is my last day observing the Google Group that I have chosen. Today I wanted to see if I could find personal profiles on the people who subscribe to these Groups, or something that would indicate who these people where, so I could determine the source of the information that is being posted on these group bulletin boards. If I know where the information is coming from, then I can decide whether or not it is a dependable source. As far as I can see, one way to find out this type of information is to click on a link that says “view profile”. The problem with this is that not many people, from what I have seen, have created a profile; also if they did create one, they could easily lie. I am not a member so I may be limited to what resources are available to me, but from an outside prospective there are only a few ways to find out who is posting information on a personal level. There is a link that you can click on to find all of the postings a particular person has posted up to date. This is a good idea, because it provides a chance to look at someone’s history and examine their character. Another way to figure out the legitimacy of information would be to actually engage in conversation with the author. Of course they could still lie, but conversation could help a little.

I just wanted to mention a couple other features about this specific group that may play a part in cutting down on the clutter of information. The first feature is that if you are not a member of the group you cannot post comments. The next feature is that there is a link you can click on that allows you to report any message you feel is inappropriate, and Google sates that they will conduct an investigation on the issue. This could deter people from posting inappropriate comments, and could help remove them if they do get posted.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

4th day on Google group

This is my 4th day observing the Google group that I have chosen. I veered away from observing the actual content of the blogs today, and decided to look at how this Google group is set up. Yesterday I experimented with the search tool, and then today I used the headings on the side of the page to navigate around. Much like the search tool this is a good way to cut through clutter, and find the most popular topics. This is also a good way to find other related groups; maybe ones that stay on topic more, or just ones that have a more narrowed down topic.

Monday, September 22, 2008

3rd day Google Group

This is my 3rd day observing my Google Group chose. I was wondering if there was a way to search for specific information, and it turns out that they do offer a search tool. I was skeptical in using it, but it turned out to be pretty useful. I decided to look for recipes for cookies, and ended up finding a large amount of them. I then decided to look up a couple recipes for food and was also successful. Overall, this really cut down on the clutter and made this Google group more useful. I think that features like this can really help out the people involved and make groups like this more attractive.

Sept 22's Reading

September 22, 2008’s reading for com 430z was titled “Democratizing Democracy: Strong Democracy, US Political Campaigns and the Internet” by Jennifer Stromer-Galley, which was published in 2000 in Peter Ferdinand (Ed), The Internet, democracy and democratization.

This reading really brings to light an important issue; how democratic are we really? This is something that I worry about every time I think about the US and our government. The overall message in this reading is that the US is practicing something the author, citing Benjamin Barber, refers to as “thin democracy”(p. 36). This basically states that everyday people are not participating in politics. In fact, it is stating that the people who mostly participate in politics are people who are either pushed to for their own self-interest or people who make a career out of it. This is a problem because I know when I think of democracy, I think that it is a government ran by the people, and this doesn’t seem so true for us anymore.

The author then goes on to mention that the media is what is taking control of what the public is focusing on. Basically, whatever the top story of the day is what people focus on the most. So, there are gatekeepers that can control what is going to be the next big issue. The idea in this reading is that maybe the internet can change this. People are now able to focus on whatever they want to and veer away from main stream media. Basically, the internet creates more communication between the people and maybe issues that are being ignored can finally be brought to attention. Recent research shows from Barber that even though that this more involved democracy is now possible it is not the case, but maybe in the future we can find a way to use the internet to achieve a “strong democracy”(p.56)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

2nd day

This was my second day observing the Google group I chose. Today I looked around a little more and I found out that you can have what appears to be a private chat within with in the blog posts. I believe it's more like posts within a post, but I think this a good feature with these blogs. It allows you to cut through the clutter to speak directly with whoever you wanted to, instead of trying to contact someone through the regular posts. This way your post won't get lost within all of the other main ones, and like I mentioned before, there are many posts that are off topic. The funny thing is that most of the conversations within the posts weren’t related to food at all! Even know this seemed to happen a lot, I still do think this is a good idea because if it was used correctly it would be helpful.

Friday, September 19, 2008

1st Day on Google Groups

Today I observed a Usenet group called, which is on Google groups. The first thing I have to mention is that, exactly like I expected, not everything was about food or cooking. There actually wasn’t as much off topic things as I expected, but there was enough to be annoying. I am sick of advertisements everywhere. One of the posts was “china discount cheap air force ones 25 years af1 sneakers.” What is that doing on a Google group for food? After looking around for a little while and reading some of the posts, I really don’t think this would be a place where I would want to get recipes. Not that nothing sounded good it’s just that I don’t think I would want to filter out all of the other postings. My other concern would be that I don’t know where these people are getting these recipes, so I would be a little weary.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Web 1.0

September 17, 2008’s reading for com 430z was titled “New media and web production” by Jason Whitaker, which was published in 2002 in The Internet: The basics. This reading was very tough for me to stay interested in. To me it was basically a list of internet and computer technologies followed by a wordy explanation of each.

In the introduction Whitaker explains that new and old media can be viewed as being closely related. New media are just developments of the old ones. He then goes on to say there are two main differences between new and old media; the first being that digital formats, like CDs, are becoming way more popular than analog, like tapes and vinyl’s, which we can see for ourselves. The main difference in format between analog and digital is that “analog is a continuing stream of data and digital information is discrete with distinct breaks between one piece of data and the next (Whitaker pg.58)” I want to add that the author gives a good analogy to describe these two. He says, "analog can be compared to a rolling down a hill and digital would be like walking down steps" (Whitaker pg. 58). From the reading I see there are many advantages to this switch, like the fact that video and picture production and editing are much easier and efficient. Whitaker explains that this does not mean that people automatically think these are better (Whitaker pg.58). I noticed that many people who are professional photographers will not use digital cameras. There are also many people that say vinyls sound more authentic than CDs do today.

Now, after a brief mention of hypertext is where the reading gets though. The author goes on to mention and explain, digital imaging, audio and video, AV basics, Web Radio, webcasting and DVD, web production, HTML, Colour and images, Hyperlinks, and finally Scripting and Java. These are all hard to give a brief summary on so I would suggest to find which of these you think you would be interested in and do a little research. I think it can be interesting, just not all at once. Whitaker, Jason. (2002). The Internet: The basics (chapter 3). New York: Routledge

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


I have recently read an article by Peter Kollock and Marc Smith. The name of the article was called “Managing the Virtual Commons” and it was published in 1996. The article spoke mostly about the idea of free-riding, and related this idea to a computer-mediated communication system called Usenet. This communication system is basically a way for a large amount of people with the same interests to be able to exchange information, without ever having to meet face to face. People who are involved post comments, questions, responses, reactions, and responses to responses on a sort of Internet bulletin-board for everyone who is involved to see. Well, the point of this system is for everyone who is evolved to supply productive and useful information to everyone else in the community. So, as Killock and Smith mention in the article, not everyone has the same agenda. Many people use the information on the on the sites for their own advantage and do not supply and thing useful to the community. In my eyes this is going to happen no matter what, but I can see where this is very unfair to people who actually put in the work to be a constructive member in a society. Kollock and Smith use a metaphor as an easier way to look at the problem by relating it to cow pastures. Some communities have to use the same pastures to feed all of the herders’ cows. Now, it would be beneficial to them as individuals to have as many of their own cows as possible on the pasture at once, but if they don’t limit themselves, and don’t hold up their end of the bargain, then the pastures will be ruined. The relation between the two is that it would be more beneficial for someone to use Usenet for their own information and not have to put their work in. This brings me to something that I learned about the term free-rider. For me it meant someone just looking to use someone else to make life easier for them, but that isn’t always the case. From what I have read a free-rider can be someone who just uses Usenet to spam, talk about unrelated topics, or to do whatever they want with it besides what it is meant for. At first this didn’t make sense to me, but I now see how people doing things like this is using up space and wasting time that would otherwise be important to the serious user. So, the term free-rider can be used to describe people who are not looking to gain anything really, but people who just want purposely disrupt the order these communities. Later Kollock and Smith go one to give a few brief resolutions to these problems, but in the end I believe what they are trying to say is that there is no simple answer to any of these problems and the best we can do is keep trying new ideas. The way they describe it is as being a “double edge: monitoring the behavior of others becomes easier while sanctioning undesirable behavior becomes more difficult”.

Monday, September 8, 2008

T.V. and the Internet

I believe the Internet is very different from television. Sure, you can use your computer as a television if you wanted to, but the internet can be so much more involved than that. If you stop and think about it the only thing you can really do with a television is watch it. Yes, there are many different channels to watch, and they did make it so you can so you can stop, rewind, fast forward, and record, but there are many things that set the T.V. and the Internet apart.

The first thing would be that the internet can be considered a meta-medium, which explained by Adams and Clark, means that it is a medium for medium. It acts as a sort of channel for many different mediums like telephone, print, and broadcasting (Adams & Clark Pg. 29). The television is really only considered to be one medium. Another big aspect of this is that we can now not only receive information from the internet, but we can also send it out. This is something you cannot do right from your home on your T.V. So, now not only are everyday people the receivers of information, we can be the creators.

This leads me to the next important difference between the television and the internet. The internet is interactive. You can be in the driver’s seat. For example, you can change the channel on you T.V. but you are always going to have to watch whatever show it is you are watching the way they people who made it wanted it to be seen. You can’t interact with it and tell it you want to read an article about the show, or hear the director talk about it. With the internet you can do these things. You can start reading something and, then thanks to something called hypertext you can in one click start reading about something else that caught your attention in what you were reading before. When you are all done you can go right back to where you left off. For example, say you were reading something about the Beatles, and John Lennon’s name was in hypertext, you could click on it and start reading about his life, or see a picture of him, or even listen to his music. Then in that reading you see the man’s name who shot him in hypertext, you could click on that and start reading about him, then when you are satisfied you can go right back to where you left off with reading about the Beatles. I think this give you so much more power than just watching a T.V. Another way the internet is interactive is that Web sites can interact with you. So, for example, Amazon is a book store over the internet. It can give you suggestion on you next readings based on what books you have order and from preferences you put in to their system. As far as I know your T.V doesn’t give you suggestions on what you should watch next based on what shows you normally watch.

The Internet is also used to communicate. You can do this with E-mail, Instant Messaging, and even call people and speak to them while you are looking at them through you computer screen. It is very rare and expensive to your to use your television as a communication device. According to an article from Lancaster University It is a very complicated process that requires a large amount of equipment and money, especially for the newer video conferencing techniques (Lancaster 2008). Incorporated into the use of communication on the internet it also gives you a choice whether you want it to be synchronously or asynchronously (Adams & Clark Pg. 40). If you don’t want to speak directly to someone and have to give a comment back as so as you get one, you can use E-mail, which will give you time to answer back without it being instantaneous.

Another important aspect about the internet is that it is packet based (Adams & Clark Pg.41). This is something that the television lacks. Say if cable was running through 5 cities from one major distributor, and one of the towns in the middle was taken out, then there would be no way for the cable to reach the other cities, the internet conquered this problem by sending out information in packet based form. The information is actually sent out in packets so that in one of the points in the middle where taken out then the other locations would make up for it because they all received many other packets contain the information.

©Lancaster University. ( August 12, 2008) How The Video Conferencing System Works. Retrieved September 8, 2008 from

Adams & Clark The Internet as a communication medium

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Response, Reading 2

The internet is something that takes a pretty good amount of thought to explain. I’m not sure if it was always like this, it seems the more advanced it becomes; the harder it is to define. I honestly don’t even remember the first time I used the internet. I think for me I started using the computer and then I was introduced to the internet as part of the computer. So, now unless I stop and think about it I don’t even see them as two separate things. Take for example this blog, I am writing it in Microsoft word and then I am going to go to the internet, which I am already connected to, then copy and paste it to the blog webpage. It is that easy. A couple of clicks and then I’m done and millions of people could read what I have to say. What I am trying to say is that I believe not only is the internet taken for granted by most, not even really thought about for what it really is. There is so much power and information right at our figure tips.
The idea of convergence mentioned in the Adams article. This I think is one of the most important parts of the internet. Your computer is turned in to a radio, a newspaper, a television, a telephone, and even other mediums. The internet has become the ultimate medium, and thanks to something called hypertext we are now in the “driver’s seat”. We get to direct wherever we want to go next on the internet. Before, if we were reading a book and it mentioned another book we wanted to glance at or read for ourselves, we would have to stop reading the one we had in our hand and try to find the other text for ourselves. Now we can skip around however we want and in the matter of seconds be right back where we left off. I believe in a way this sets us free.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The begining of the internet

The Internet was created out of almost a necessity. The American government and the military realized that eventually there was going to be a need for a new way to communicate and to send messages in a time efficient way. Before the Internet we did this with the telephone, television, radio, and telegraph. After the U.S dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki we discovered how the elctromagnetic waves from the atomic blast knocked out every possible way to communicate.