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.