Posted by: lunacouture | April 7, 2008

Collaboration is Key- Week 10 Response

Summary and Analysis

 

Wikinomics by Tapscott and Williams discusses several issues relating to the modern economy of the web and how people can use it.  The book emphasizes that collaboration is key to the advancement of internet, in any field.  The web gives you a venue to do this easily and inexpensively, and in some cases for free.  People working with each other can get ideas from a number of sources as opposed to relying solely on their own knowledge.

 

The book talks about advancement of scientific communication by providing publications free of charge on online databases. This idea of collaboration is crucial particularly to the scientific community.  Smart researchers from all over the world are now able to collaborate and contribute to the advancement of medicine worldwide.  The contribution this system will have to medicine at a global level is not to be undermined.   

 

Wikinomics sites The Human genome project as an example of scientific collaborative group effort.  The Human Genome project is an excellent example of how collaboration has helped to the advancement of society.  Thanks to this project, people can map out all of our genes and diagnose genetic diseases beforehand.  It shows that people can truly put resources and competition to the side, when building something that is beneficial for society.  This is one of the main ideas that the authors convey in Wikinomics. 

 

This idea of sharing and collaborating on the web is also noted in several blogs.  The Google blog posted on April 2nd discusses this idea of further advancing the application of Google Docs.  Through Google Docs people can “share and collaborate” their work with others on the web.  This is a great example of technological applications that lead to the expansion of ideas.  To achieve these types of collaborative networks, people must learn to use the web to their advantage.  The April 5th GigaOM blog written by Martin Stiksel writes how much more interesting the web is when we use it proactively as opposed to reactively.  He suggests to looking outside our sole interests into other web offerings that may open up a new spectrum for us. 

 

The WIkimomics blog on April 2nd talks about citizens getting together throughout the world to take part in the earth hour.  The idea is that near the end of March every year, people around the world make an effort to conserve energy for about an hour.  Although according to the blog not a huge number of people participated to this event, the effort still shows how people around the world can collaborate.  An interesting element stated in the blog is that facebook had created several events relating to earth day, fostering participation efforts.  The initiative provides yet another example of how people can work together for the greater good, using the web as a connecting tool. 

 

Wikinomics, like most of the other books on technology, discuss the importance of peer-to-peer networks.  In this case, the book points out companies such as eBay that have been able to create a strong business and online community precisely thanks to the use of peer-to-peer technology.  Through an online interaction in which consumers compare prices and leave product feedback, many find eBay to be a very comfortable option.  The business itself is constantly flourishing and I don’t see it disappearing anytime soon. 

 

Companies such as eBay have implemented a business tactic, which at least for now seems to work well with the public.  By rendering the consumer’s shopping experience “open” on the web, the company automatically establishes its credibility.  The idea is that by permitting price comparison and feedback with regards to a plethora of products offered, eBay is acting in the consumer’s best interest.  The different pricing options allow consumers to shop while remaining in their budget.  When thought out from a business point of view, companies like eBay are really a remarkable use of the web.    

 

The book also suggests that outsourcing is very important for the diffusion of ideas and products.  The example given is China’s growing motorcycle industry, which now poses a threat to other motor producing markets.  While I can see and agree with Tapscott and William, I think there are other factors to be taken into consideration.  China is exporting goods in multiple sectors because the country has expanded throughout the world.  However, some of the products have shown to be of poor quality and contain hazardous material.  It’s important to verify prior to importing from anywhere that goods are produced using safe material.

 

Wikinomics discusses how Robert Stephenson created Geek Squad and made it into a strong business.  What is particularly interesting is that Stephenson took advantage of a stereotype that fostered credibility and allowed him to provide services to the public.  By creating a strong corporate culture in which Geeks were the heroes of a crisis, Stephenson created a working environment that generated success and curiosity.  Both factors were determinant at gaining the public’s attention and maintaining a strong company culture.  A hint of originality compensated by a highly qualified team permitted Stephenson to establish a system of collaboration.  This ended up benefiting both society and his company.    

 

The Long Tail discusses the notion of how small companies are growing online and how the web is starting to shed light on smaller communities or products, that were undermined before.  It claims that people’s needs are becoming more specific, as they being to search for very pinpointed queries on the web. Through this system culture and products can be easily exported abroad and quickly, without being constrained by political boundaries.  Ideas are free to circulate and be diffused quickly. The whole idea of the long tail is that the market is starting to cater more specifically to targeted audiences.  Suiting the needs of targeted audiences that are scattered throughout the world, opens up new targeted, larger clientele for marketers.

 

John Battelle’s search blog from April 1st discusses in depth this idea of smaller brands being the ones that dominate the web.  There has definitely been a distinct change in the amount of small businesses that are starting to emerge and grow in popularity thanks to the internet.  However, Battelle admonishes his readers that online advertising still needs to be perfected.  He suggests it will be sometime still before online advertisements create the same effects on consumers than what does advertising in other more traditional forms of media. 

 

The Long Tail goes into a lot of depth about how the music industry has revolutionized in recent years.  People don’t go to record stores anymore, but tend to purchase their music online through digital means.  Consumers select the songs they are interested in rather than paying for a whole CD of songs.  File sharing also is very popular because people can effectively transfer songs to each other easily.  P2P for music files continues, despite government intervention to eliminate this type of technology in the music industry following the Napster scandal.  Experts in the field say p2p is never going to disappear, especially in foreign countries that don’t have strict copyright enforcement laws.     

 

According the book, there is more than just copyright infringement and file sharing laws to blame for the decline in sales in the music industry, such as iPods or innovative radio stations that provide listeners with additional music options.  My feeling is that it’s also the fault of the policy makers who are not coming up with effective strategies to help and protect consumer rights while wanting to protect copyrights as well.  Filing continuous lawsuits does not seem like a feasible solution to this problem, given the fact that illegal downloads are not ceasing. 

 

Synthesis

 

Wikinomics and The Long Tail have similarities in that they promote the idea of reaching out to large groups of audiences through the web to promote diffusion of ideas, products, and services. Both discuss the idea of a huge global community collaborating to disperse ideas and create new ones. Whether the collaboration occurs in the medical field in a scientific context, or simply to compare prices for an item, the idea of working together is the same. 

 

This idea of being able to spread ideas across boundaries was also reaffirmed in several instances in Scoble and Israel’s Naked Conversations.   In their book they encourage unlimited expression of ideas through the web.  The same idea of ongoing conversations is seen in We the Media, in that it discusses how people can create media by posting comments or blogs via the web.  Conversations bring about new thoughts and a diffusion of ideas, even if controversial in nature.  Conversations lead to ongoing collaboration, which relates back to the readings for this week. 

 

The two books also emphasize the fact that there is rapidly expanding technological world that keeps growing.  This notion could also link back to Smart Mobs, in which the technological world is becoming an unending plethora of options.  Also, Smart Mobs discusses the idea of small groups that agglomerate by having similar interests, using internet or mobile technology.  This notion of niches was a recurring theme in this week’s readings, particularly in The Long Tail’s discussion of targeted consumers. 

 

The Long Tail discusses the idea of using the web to search and promote small business that before were not able to reach many audiences.  This idea reminded me a lot of the recount of Moncrief’s story in Chapter 7 of John Battelle’s book The Search.  Moncrief’s story was an example of how a small business relying heavily on the web for profits was heavily reliant on web audiences to obtain profits.  The Long Tail predicts that this is the type of business that will survive in the long run and provide real competition for larger companies.   

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Posted by: lunacouture | March 31, 2008

Mobile Technology and the Web

Week 9 Reading Response

 Summary & Analysis 

The second part of Smart Mobs by Howard Rheingold discusses the radical way communication is changing society.  The book concludes that studying how mobile phones evolve and impact society over time will determine how to regulate this type of technology.   The book also suggests that in the near future there will be a revolution, in which mobile phones become a powerful device.   

The book suggests that less economically developed countries rely on text messaging for communication.  A possible explanation for this is that less wealthy nations may have service providers that make calling expensive. Also, people may have to work longer hours and not have time to engage in phone conversations.  The book also hints that countries such as Japan have limited living space, as there are numerous people residing in confined spaces.  When people live close to each other, there is not much privacy.  The SMS solves this problem by making communication more private.   

The book gives the example of how people in the Philippines used their cell phones to create an uprising against Estrada.  It’s interesting that cell phones are used to coordinate such powerful events.  Mobile communication has developed to the extent it is able to mobilize thousands of people.  This shows society is now using mobile devices as tools. The wikinomics blog entry on March 26 suggests that the advancement of cell phones is so great that it poses a threat to the internet. With the fact that people are receiving more and more services via mobile devices, computers and the internet are soon likely to change significantly.  

The book also makes the point that cell phones can be used as a means of collecting and producing media.  Photojournalism is in decline because many images can be easily shot using a mobile phone, by being in the right place at the right time. As long as the images capture the moment, audiences still see what they want without needing professional journalists to do the job.  News can be diffused quickly by sending images and videos via mobile phones.  Sometimes grassroots journalism is more interesting to audiences than professional journalism because it is more spontaneous.     

Traditional journalism is also in decline.  This week’s Wikinomics blog showed a short portion of a Simpson episode, in which the character mocks a journalist telling him that his “medium is dying”. The fact this has entered a satirical pop culture show such as the Simpsons, indicates people are very much aware of the changing trend. The PaidContent Blog referred to this issue on March 28 by stating that 2007 suffered the greatest loss in revenues for newspapers. Online revenues have increased for media firms, presenting an interesting alternative for the newspaper industry.  It’s no secret the newspaper industry was hit hard by the economic recession.  Overall, Losses have been significant and news industries are desperately searching for alternatives to compensate for lost revenue.  

The Universal Point of Contact (UPOC) method mentioned in the book shows that people can work together to communicate news to each other.  An example of UPOC would be passing the word along via mobile devices when citing celebrities in certain venues. However, UPOC also indicates that privacy has been lost and we have no hopes of gaining it back as technology develops.  An announcement in the Washington Post Technology blog on March 29 announced that Verizon Wireless will establish a program permitting people to know where their friends are all the time.  Talk about having no more privacy!  People will know thanks to this service too much information about others and their whereabouts.  However, this circumstance may be beneficial when people are in need of assistance.  

One point made by the book is that people often relate to technology as if it were an actual person.  Rheingold reminds readers that it’s important to remember we are dealing with machines.  The personification of technology is something most people are guilty of.  It’s very difficult to remember that the intermediary aiding you with your communication process is actually not a person, but a computer.  People grow so dependent on technology they get lazy and stop working out the processes for themselves. This in turn causes them to get frustrated with a machine when something goes wrong.    

The Italian researcher Fortunati mentioned in the book talks about the privatization of communication leading to a demise of public communication. Fortunati suggests that people will become less social in the long run.  As an Italian, I can understand where Fortunati is coming from.  Italian culture used to strive on being a friendly, open society with people talking to you in public spaces.  Today the idea of public communication in Italy has basically disappeared, as there is much diffidence amongst people. They are reluctant to talk and have become less social. The newer generations especially have definitely lost a lot of the personal touch that used to make Italy unique. The same can be said for several other European countries.  

Another book read for this week was Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything by Tapscott and Williams.  The first chapter of the book mentions that people are creating media and working together using technology as their medium.  Out of these ideas emerges the notion of how technology brings together people of different ethnicities, comparing the phenomenon to the Italian Renaissance.  The book alludes to the idea of sharing and open source technology, as was discussed by prof. Mele in his lecture this week.   

The book talks a lot about sharing and open technology programs on the web.  The authors explain open source technology on the web, meaning that everyone can partake into the contribution of knowledge. Examples of this type of technology include del.icio.us and wikipedia that are free and include contributions by anyone.  The PaidContent Blog just announced on March 28 that the Sloan Foundation donated $3 million dollars to continue to enhance wikipedia’s success.  Media collaboration efforts have helped businesses grow and diffuse around the world, as well as overcome language or geographic barriers.   

Younger generations are so media savvy now that they create a lot of the content on the web.  Today’s younger generation will be the one coming up with new innovations in the future. An article in John Battelle’s search blog on March 10 expressed that you cannot compare the content on the web to what you would use for traditional academic standards.  This defeats the purpose of open source technology and stunts its growth. The Wikinomics blog on March 29 shows a web design with complex interactions of several Microsoft applications surrounded by smiley faces.  The idea is that people are satisfied when they can edit material on the web.  I think it’s a representational design of how society feels about open source technology that can be channled toward the greater good.   

Many have understood the economics of the web and learned to use it for lucrative purposes. Programs like Apples have done well by exploiting the frenzy to protect copyrights following the post Napster scandal.  However, iTunes are now becoming something of a two way sword.  They protect copyrights, but tend to turn off consumers with their policies.  Producers can’t ignore the fact that the digital age has happened and that music will never be purchased the same way it was years ago. Right now people need to work on finding a balance between protecting copyrights and not imposing too many restrictions on people about what they download.   This is proving to be a real challenge and it may be sometimes before a general consensus is reached.  

Synthesis 

The idea of being able to diffuse information and capture it merely by the click of a cell phone parallels with Dan Gillmor’s book, We the Media.  In his book, Gillmor emphasizes that people in this generation are already starting to create media content and posting it online.  He also highlights the importance of grassroots journalism and how this movement is posing a real threat to traditional media.  Both these principles were also discussed in Wikinomics and Smart Mobs, outlining the same basic principles.   

Smart Mobs contains elements that are similar to John Battelle’s book, The Search, in that both authors argue that mobile technology will become much more complex. Smart Mobs takes this a step further and suggests that mobile phones will be used both as a search tool and tracking device.  It seems like people are constantly searching for something that will only advance their searches and produce better results.  This was the principle Battelle discussed in his book, and a reflection of the same ideas can be seen in Smart Mobs.   

Israel and Scoble pointed out in Naked Conversations the idea of the web being one big blogosphere, without being limited by political geography. Both Smart Mobs and Wikinomics reaffirm this idea with their books when discussing the importance of open source technology.  All three of these books encourage open conversations and public input throughout the internet. The most amazing thing is that the web leaves room for error because chances are that mistakes will be corrected on open source applications.  Also, it is easier to discuss a difference of opinion when the web acts as an intermediary between people.  I think the bigger message that each of these books are trying to convey is that each person can contribute to society in someway through the web.   People should take advantage of this luxury and take part in the diffusion of new ideas throughout the world. 

Posted by: lunacouture | March 18, 2008

The Expansion of Technology- Week 8 Response

The first five chapters of the book Smart Mobs by Howard Rheingold explains digital advancement in today’s society.  Rheingold initially talks about cell phone communities amongst young students in Japan.  He describes text messaging as a simplified communication process in which symbols are used more frequently than words.  He suggests that text messaging is inexpensive and practical from a technical point of view, as it can pass on data at a faster rate.  The author describes the SMS process as a means of mass communication amongst groups, forming a distinct culture within itself.              

Rheingold suggests that text messaging is not as common in the US as in other countries. One reason for this could be that US cell phone providers don’t have cost effective mobile service plans, as you pay both when you send and receive the SMS. Providers have recently started to change their approach, including a fixed amount of free text messages in the user monthly plan.  Another reason US culture may not be suitable for text messaging is that Americans tend to want more details when coordinating an event, such as meeting time, place, and sometimes dress code. Other cultures are more informal on that respect and may simply decide on a time to meet, while working out the other details later. Text messages work well in these circumstances because people can send up to the minute updates.   

Rheingold also highlights the importance of people cooperating with each other via internet.  He discusses the notion of online networking by using internet as a tool for both individuals and businesses.  The book talks about the legal problems brought about by using peer-to-peer networks such as Napster, which made file sharing possible.  Although file sharing has been prohibited for the most part, the number of illegal downloads still remains high.  The Washington Post tech blog on March 17 reports that internet providers suggest charging a small fee to allow unlimited file sharing downloads.  Not everyone agrees with this plan because it would cause problems to companies such as iTunes or people who never download music online.   

Even though I understand this point, I personally think that charging a small fee would be a great solution to this much debated problem.  Some of the copyright protection laws are taking everything to the extreme and risk stunting the growth of artists in the next few years.  I was pleased to read in Larry Lessig’s blog from March 3rd which reported that the band Nine Inch nails put their latest album under a Creative Commons license.  I feel more bands should follow this example, as it would make music more accessible to listeners.  Bands are likely to generate higher revenues when going on tour if more people can savor their music.  Creative Commons seems to be a great idea because it gives artists the ability of choosing the how they wish to copyright their work, while concurrently allowing the public to access it.               

The notion suggested by Rheingold of technology touching every aspect of our lives is noticeable with cell phones.  Most cell phones nowadays come with GPS service, email access, text messaging, MMS and a series of other functions. The iPhone is a perfect example of an avant guard cell phone that can do an endless number of things.  The Mobile Monday announced an event on its blog that was held on February 11th.  The event discussed how eventually numerous functions will be carried out from a mobile device.  Only a decade ago, no one would have imagined this to be possible.    

The idea of using technology for almost everything in life is one of the main points of Smart Mobs.  While the book is very interesting, I find it a little perplexing.  Rheingold’s incredible detail foreshadows a world in which technology will be applied to every aspect of our lives. It looks to me like there needs to be a limit on how technology is adopted in our lives, before it begins to backfire on us.  The GigaOM blog from March 7th discusses the notion that technology may be moving too quickly and spinning out of our control. The blog points out that often people invest in technological innovations, which end up becoming obsolete within a short time frame.  One of the examples cited in the blog is people paying for Ethernet installment when shortly after wireless devices arise everywhere.   

The impression I got from the book was that people have an uncontrolled desire to want to improve the quality of life, without being able to handle the changes.  While each individual technological commodity has definitely made our lifestyles easier, it doesn’t necessarily mean it has made it better.  If technology continues to grow at this rate, it will soon get to the point that it outgrows us.  Innovation brings about simplified solutions, along with a series of problems.  People will soon take everything for granted and reach the point where they can’t perform everyday functions because they are too reliant on technology.  In the long run, this will cause the quality of life to deteriorate overall.  You can already see hints of this by observing the way that people socialize with each other.  Face to face interaction seems to occur much less frequently than it used to.               

This book has a lot of similarities with other books we’ve been reading throughout the semester.  Smart Mobs almost seems to be a cohesive summary of all the other books, as it contains elements and points discussed in each one.    The Search mentioned that technology would make searching possible in every aspect of life, including everyday tasks such as comparing products at a super market to find the most competitive prices.  In Smart Mobs Rheinland mentions the importance of using the mobile phone to carry out everything and search for what is needed.   

Smart Mobs also relates to the book Naked Conversations because it explains the importance of using the net as a social venue and networking opportunity.  This is similar to the notion set forth in Naked Coversations, were authors Israel and Scoble emphasized the importance of turning information into one big conversation on the blogosphere.  The idea in both books is to use technology to spread information to as many people as possible in a short amount of time.  By making conversations accessible to everyone, people are likely to find numerous opportunities to network and chances of enhancing their businesses.  

We the Media differentiates a bit in subject matter to Smart Mobs because it deals with the idea of creating the media as opposed to using it.  We the Media dicusses grassroots journalism, while Smart Mobs seems to focus more on how people make use of technology.  In a way, the two books have a connection because it would be impossible to create media without being able to use it.  One definite similarity is their view on cell phone technology.  I recall Gillmore pointing out in his book the importance of using the SMS to communicate and diffuse information.  I am certain that Rhiengold would agree with this idea, as he mentions text messaging often in his book.   

Posted by: lunacouture | March 10, 2008

Search, Search, Search – Week 7 Response

The second part of John Battelle’s book, The Search, touches on several topics that give a glimpse of what consumers can expect from Google.  Google represents an ingenious innovation, which is bound to cause problems.   

According to the book, many companies lost business when Google changed their search engine algorithms, consequently modifying search results.  Battelle suggests that Google has a hard time monitoring websites and insuring the more legitimate ones transpire.  The order and listing of search results also depends on how much advertisers are willing to pay for advertising services via Google AdWords.  Strategic placement of advertising has permitted Google to make money, while allowing advertisers to promote their product to a greater audience outreach.  This week’s Search engine watch blog writes that Google announced it will start taking into consideration the amount of time it takes users to visualize web pages when clicking on advertisements.  This in turn will have an impact on pricing options.         

The book also delves into the privacy issues associated to Google.  Google can track people’s addresses and seek out information, simply by placing a person’s phone number into the search engine.  The book also explains how the Patriot Act has a lot of grey area subject to interpretation, when justifying government involvement in personal communication.  Under the Act, Google may get away with tracking more personal information about individuals.  China has also proven to be a controversial because its government exercises control over internet content.  According to the book, this has made it difficult for markets like Google to emerge in China.   

Brin and Page run Google in a tough manner, in order to keep their company productive and running.  Their aim is to create a fusion between our lifestyle and search engines, by incorporating digital technology to our daily lives.  Google faces plenty of competition while working to achieve its mission, but manages to stay ahead of the game.  Usually the average time span for internet applications is rather dearth, but Google seems to have strong chances of survival.   

Google will be around for a while, since the company always manages to come out with new, competitive ideas before other businesses do.  John Battelle’s blog this week announced that Microsoft recently expanded its online office applications to extend their usage to smaller businesses.  Google has been offering this service for quite some time, making its position more advantageous compared to Microsoft.  Google also announced on its blog this week that they are working to simplify their search engine.  People will be able to produce more targeted results within a web listing, even by conducting searches using broad terminology.  This represents yet another original innovation on the company’s behalf.     

What I found particularly disturbing was all the consequences these modern implementations are going to have on our privacy.  The fact that everything is traceable online, including all your personal information makes a person more cautious about what they disclose overall.  The book also summarizes some of the major issues revolving around the Patriot Act, which has essentially given freedom to the government of monitoring people’s personal communications.   

However, I think there’s also a positive side to the privacy factor that is often overlooked.  Having access to people’s information online may prove particularly useful in certain scenarios.  Various instances in which having access to personal information could be useful is for tracing down criminals, journalists gathering facts for their stories (as explained by Battelle), finding contact information, or connecting with people from your past.  Although people may not see this as a benefit of the system right now, the innovation may help gain transparency in the long run in today’s society.  People who have nothing to hide should have nothing to fear.     

What I found most interesting was the book’s description of the various applications Google may create in the future.  Some of the ideas suggested by Battelle included being able to compare product prices by adding a search engine to your cell phone or having access to the yellow pages in digital format.  The Washington Post’s Official tech blog writes this week about a new Google application where people can link their personal calendars and commitments both on the web and their phones.  Who would have thought a few years ago that all this would be possible? I can foresee Google inserting their technology to many aspects of our daily lives.  As new advancements are implemented, other laws will also be created to limit the extent to that these applications can be used.    

Compared to the readings we did in the book this past week, I found the second half of the book to be more interesting. The first half of the book focuses on how Google became a successful business, while the second half deals more with how Google will affect us personally.  It’s important for people to realize the exposure of the web and how it may impact one’s lifestyle.

When relating this book to other authors we have read, Gillmor, Israel, Scoble would all agree with the fact that Google plays an important role in the digital age. However, Gillmor, Israel and Scoble would probably argue that the advancement of Google will be more a product of people’s influence, rather than Google influencing people’s lifestyle.  The three authors seem to attribute more responsibility to people being the ones bringing about change.  Battelle seems to suggest that the search engine will be responsible for bringing about changes.  No matter which way one looks at it, it is evident that digital applications are incorporating into people’s lifestyles. 

I’m sure that Battelle would agree with the notion that working for a company like Google is not easy.  Many blog and news articles often portray the executives of Google as being cut throat businessmen that are reticent when talking to the public.  The Search Engine Watch Blog reported this week about Google CEO Eric Schmidt refusing to answer a CNET news reporter’s questions.  Whether this was done deliberately or was simply Schmidt’s personal choice, we’ll never know. However, the pressure for Google to constantly innovate and stay ahead of its competitors is difficult to surmount.  Many news reports and blogs, including this one from GigaOM, have speculated on Sheryl Sandberg decision to leave Google to join Facebook. Will she be able to turn Facebook into an equally lucrative business as Google is? Only time will tell.  

Posted by: lunacouture | March 3, 2008

Week 6 Response- Here comes Google!

Week 6 Blog 

Summary  

The focus of this week’s readings has moved from blogging to search engines, with particular emphasis on Google.  The book by John Battelle The Search, discusses the emergence of search engines and their importance.  According to the book, Google represents the most innovative search engine known to date.  Batelle starts out discussing the history of search engines and how they can generate an unlimited amount of information.  Batelle mentions that Altavista was one of the first engines on the web, followed by the release of Excite in 1995, and Yahoo.  

According to The Search, the birth of Google happened quite spontaneously. Larry Page and Sergey Brin (the two creators of Google) met in San Francisco, before Page enrolled into Stanford University.  Page sought an innovative topic regarding the web, to use for his doctoral thesis.  Initially Page was concerned with the fact that web pages were not linked back to other sites.  Page and Brin also felt that when searching it was important to have some sort of “ranking” (p. 74) system for all the obtained search results.  They created programs called BackRub and PageRank, both which formed the foundation of today’s Google.  They worked off of Stanford’s network and soon exceeded the system’s limit due to the excess in web crawling.    

According to Battelle, in 1998 Google Inc. became so popular the creators started hiring people to help manage their company.  Google Inc. soon sought more office space to accommodate their increasing staff.  They received offers from several tech companies which hoped to exploit the search engine’s new technology for lucrative purposes. Battelle explains that Google’s owners were very careful about any business moves they made, and did not sell their services cheap.  The company’s increasing success kept Brin and Page so busy they had to leave Stanford, dedicating their time to running Google’s business.  

Battelle suggests that Google soon changed the internet as we know it and is responsible for much of the growth of the web.  Page and Brin chose to hire Eric Schmidt as CEO to Google in 2001.  His many years of work experience at Novell, gave him the proper experience needed to run and expand the company.  2001 became a boom year from Google as they raised much money during this time. Google also started making innovative programs that generated popularity and interest amongst the public.  

Several of the assigned blogs for this week had posts relating to Google.  John Battelle’s search blog posted a link to the GigaOM blog, announcing that Google recently purchased another cable to increase its communications out reach.  The connection should link the US to Asia and expand communications between the two continents.  Battelle also points out on his blog that typing “Italy map” into Google’s search engine does not immediately yield a Google map result.  The point he makes is why can Google execute so many complicated functions and yet not produce a Google map of Italy with one click?  Battelle’s blog also posted a link announcing the partnership between Google and the Cleveland health clinic, as I discussed in last week’s post.   

Jeremy Zawodny’s blog recently featured a post stating that the Republican Party has chosen to use Google as the official search engine for their campaign.  Zawodny’s is rather cynical about the deal, suggesting that it gives little credibility to a party who has always been more traditional in its approach to politics.  Relating to elections, the Official Google blog had a posting about its ability to monitor candidate support in specific states throughout the country.  

The Search Engine watch blog is full of links related to Google. One of the posts describes the increased success of advertisements feedback, since Google strategically modified the placement and size of advertising on their site.  The results obtained from advertising companies over the last few months are encouraging.  One of the posts discusses the presentation given by Eric Schmidt about Google’s most recent online health database initiative.  The post suggests that even though this new system should be very helpful to people, it has the potential to cause several privacy issues. The debate now is whether the government should regulate these potential privacy violations or whether it’s best left up to Google itself.  

The official Google blog discusses the collaboration between Google and the National Science Foundation to provide resources to universities around the country.  Another post discussed Google’s initiative to adapt their search engines to the needs of people who speak languages that are written and read from right to left.  This enables searching for people who speak languages such as Arabic to become easier.  The Google blog also announced that it just finished creating an application, which allows people to share website and documents with each other.  This should be particularly useful to people that are working together on projects around the world.     

Anaylsis 

John Battelle’s book The Search is well written and easy to follow.  The realm of searching on the web is so vast that it seems like a difficult task confining all the information to one book.  One could argue that there is only so much that can be written about search engines, without becoming redundant.  Yet, Battelle manages to write in an interesting manner, conveying the right amount of information related to this topic.  One criticism about his book is that Battelle exaggerates a little bit on his optimism regarding the usage of search engines.  While I see search engines as a means of providing people with a plethora of information, I do not think they can give much practical feedback.  I was also a little disappointed with John Battelle’s blog.  His posts are brief and link to other blogs, but I would have liked to see more of his own input on some of his posts.  

Battelle does an excellent job in narrating the story of Google’s creation.  The rise of Google is one of those stories that give people hope that anything is really possible.  I think that Page and Brin could not have imagined that their search engine would ever generate so much success and admiration in the tech world.  It has become a multi-billion dollar industry and has brought a vast amount of resources and information to everyone’s finger tips.  I cannot agree more with Battelle’s point that Google has really changed the way people use the internet, and by consequences our culture as a whole.  

A combination of factors contributed to making Google as popular as it is.  I also think that several of the events that occurred in 2001 helped Google grow in popularity.  Google emerged at a time when search engines such as Yahoo and AltaVista were not satisfying public demand in terms of providing gratifying search results. Also, the September 11th attacks alone must have generated more searching than usual. When events like this occur, people all over the world seem to stick together and form a sense of community.  That has been and continues to be the great aspect about Google: it has managed to make the world a smaller place by linking people together.    

There are several aspects that distinguish Google from the rest of their competitors.  One is Google’s constant ability to reinvent. They never stop at one project, but seem to be always be thinking about future application possibilities.  This allows the company to be innovative and always be a step ahead of the rest.  The other factor is Google’s consciousness and awareness of other cultures.  Even something simple like construction of a search engine catered to the needs of international web users acknowledges all the communities that utilize the web.  They also contribute to the advancement of computer science by providing opportunities and resources for young scholars at US universities.  

Synthesis 

After reading We the Media, Naked Conversations, and the first portion of The Search, there is definitely much overlap amongst the three.  All would agree with the idea that blogs are quintessential components of today’s virtual community.  Blogs represent a way of exercising free speech and participating in an online community.  All authors would agree that this is important and Google has helped advance this with its many programs.    

Israel and Scoble point out in their book that Google is a strong company, with not a particularly good blog.  After reading several of their blog posts for this week, I have to say I do not agree with Israel’s and Scoble’s assertion.  I actually enjoyed reading the Google blog, in that it was very thorough.  I remember Israel and Scoble pointing out in their readings that good blogs are controversial and not neutral in tone.  I don’t think Google’s blog is controversial by any means, as it seems to merely report information to the public about what is happening in their company.  Given the nature of their business, Google doesn’t need controversial posts to attract readers.  People will be curious enough to keep up on what’s going on with the company.    

All the blogs we’ve been reading these past few weeks seem to point to the same recurring issues.  Amongst them is the concern of privacy violations with the creation of Google’s online health records.  I think there seems to be an excessive concern about this simply because it’s still a very new, untapped market.  As an example, we’ve had online banking for a while that has worked just fine.  My guess is that hackers would be more interested in finding out about a person’s financial information, rather than their health history.  If online banking has worked, there should be no reason for online health records not to work.

Posted by: lunacouture | February 25, 2008

Week 5 Response

Week 5 Blog 

Summary of Readings 

The assigned readings from the book Naked Conversations by Scoble and Israel, touch on many important issues relating to blogging.  The authors discuss principles of integrity and some ethical aspects of blogging.  They suggest that blogs should be truthful and avoid hyperbole.  They also remind bloggers to keep their writing relatively straightforward, since people are not likely to engage in lengthy readings.  One of the real world examples provided in the book is the L’Oreal blog created to market their line of Vichy products.  Initially, the blog appeared as too much of a fabrication to be deemed credible by the public, which soon began speaking out against the company.  The Vichy cosmetics were only taken seriously when bloggers started providing accurate information about the product, and giving customers honest feedback on the blog.  

While Israel and Scoble emphasize remaining honest when blogging, they say that it’s important for blogs to stand out on the web. They suggest that interesting blogs express opinions and take on a clear stance.  The idea behind this notion is that readers will be disinterested in reading blogs that are emotionally detached.  Israel and Scoble point out that blogs are more likely to come about during times of crisis.  They suggest people find ways to use blogs on a regular basis so they will be better prepped if a crisis does occur.  The authors also suggest personalizing a blog as much as possible, so that the virtual blogosphere can seem more human to the readers.   Possible options could include adding photographers or contact information, so that bloggers can be accessible to the public.  The authors also discuss the advantages and importance of using a program such as RSS to read blogs collectively and keep track of updates relating to issues of interest.  This system also makes it easier to connect back to other related blogs or URL’s.   

The authors also mention how blogging for a company can have its consequences.  Employees have gotten fired for writing about something that the company would have rather not disclosed.  Israel and Scoble suggest that prior to mixing in blogs with office related material, it is important to have a clear idea of the rules in the specific working environment.  It may best to clear any doubts related to blogging with the boss, prior to publishing anything that relates to the company.  While Scoble and Israel encourage company blogging, they suggest approaching it cautiously.  Even a simple sentence may suffice to throw the blogosphere in frenzy.             

For the blogs we have been following this week, GigaOM had several interesting updates about the digital industry.  The most interesting component of their blog this week was tracking the updates relating to the cell phone service providers.  The blogs reported that the three major mobile phone providers seem to be competing against each other to see who can promote the best unlimited calling rates to their consumers.  So far, each has offered unlimited minutes and text messaging for only $99 per month.  Om Malik suggests that this new plan will probably cause them to loose more money in the long run.  He suggests that people who are likely to switch to this plan are the ones that typically spend more money, while people who only use telephone for a necessity will continue to spend the same amount on more standardized plans.  This in turn may cause the companies to collect less from their top phone consumers.             

Similarly, this week The Washington Post tech blog had several updates regarding the phone providers entering the market. On February 19th Kim Hart reported that the major carriers decided it was time for them to go digital, rather than analog.  This upset people living in locations were the telecommunications is less developed because they cannot receive digital signals.  That same day, the blog reports that after the Verizon announcement was made that it was going to offer a flat unlimited rate for phone calls, other cell phone providers started doing the same.   AT&T immediately followed offering the same deal to its consumers, after hearing Verizon’s annoucement. Only a little while later on that same day, T-Mobile also announced the same thing: unlimited calls and text messaging for a flat rate of $99 per month.             

In this week’s PaidContent by Joseph Weisenthal, I found most interesting the story about on google having made a deal with the Clevaland Clinic to make healthcare records accessible online.  I had heard that people were trying to get their healthcare information available to them for sometime now, but had not heard of any recent updates that indicated it was going to happen. The PaidContent blogs in October 2007 and August of 2007, reported that Microsoft and Google have been competing against each other for establishing the biggest network of online health services to the public.  This past week the announcement came out about Google’s parternership with the clinic.  I foresee a rapid, competitive growth in this sector .  

 Analysis

The first item that struck me while doing these readings was figuring how a company blogger finds an appropriate balance between writing coherently about an issue, while pleasing the company.  A blogger can be as tactful as possible and yet still displease the company just by writing something about a blog. I think in this particular sector there is much less freedom of speech than what you would see for personal blogging.  This is understandable to an extent, because companies are worried about putting their company in a compromising position. I think this is definitely easier said than done because some companies are not open to blogging.  My feeling is that many companies view the idea of publishing something related to their company on the web as a privacy violation, rather than viewing it as a means of gaining exposure.  While, some companies have understood how to use blogging in a savvy manner to further their business, but I have a feeling that a good number of businesses still haven’t grasped the concept.             

Similarly, I find it nearly impossible for companies to blog without really becoming prone to marketing what their selling. The authors state that this should not be the aim of a blog, but I just have a hard time seeing companies do otherwise.  For the most part companies would be inclined to post blogs to diffuse information more quickly regarding their new products or promotions.  I don’t think company blogs are suitable for every industry, as having a blog.  Some companies may actually benefit by not having a blog or by making it emerge with a more neutral tone.  For instance, the book gives the example of Apple and Google being good companies, with not so great blogs.   While I do not doubt this, I think there is a deliberate intention on the part of these companies to keep their blogs not particularly interesting.  They are probably concerned with preserving the best interest of their company and are worried that posting a blog may create unfavorable public opinion.  If negative aspects of the company emerged through company blogs it may damage the company’s name.            

Another item mentioned in the book humanizing a blog site.  They suggested posting pictures and contact information of yourself online.  This definitely has immense benefits because a blogger can essentially end up networking with anyone from anywhere around the world, and may be even end up pursuing great opportunities.  However, it is difficult to imagine that everything with regards to posting information on the web is in everyone’s best interest.  There are too many issues that would make me skeptical about posting my information for everyone’s use.  I think it depends on a number of factors, including your age, gender, and the type of occupation you have.  Some companies don’t even allow their employees to join social networking sites like myspace or facebook.  Also, it could be best giving an alternative phone number that is different from your personal one.  In this way, just so you can still put yourself out there without suffering privacy violations on your personal line.           

With regards to the blogs for this week, I find it silly for the mobile phone companies to take on the same tactic for winning over competitors.  If anything, I would try to come up with something different from the other cell phone providers in order to stand out.  This would at least make the company look more original to the public.  I agree with the Om Malik that this tactic will probably backfire on them rather than help them generate more money.  I cannot see very many people that would be interested in spending $99 dollars a month for having unlimited cell phone service.  I think it’s hard to imagine that a young people will be willing to pay that much for a monthly cell phone service, provided they use cell phones as a necessity for communication.          

As far as Google’s collaboration to make health records accessible to patients, I am very curious to see what will happen as time goes on.  I foresee the diffusion of online healthcare information developing quickly.  I’m sure that several new companies will arise to compete and gain the rights of making healthcare records accessible online. Who would have thought a few years ago that Google would have been one of the pioneers in this area? While I think it’s great and definitely shows a level of progression, I also predict that there will be some significant privacy issues.  For instance, computer hackers may easily be able to access other people’s health records.  While it is important that people have access to their records, it must be insured that they have no way of editing the information contained on their records.  I think these are hurdles that can be easily overcome and won’t prove to be a problem once the system has a chance to develop.    

Synthesize

If I were to relate this week’s readings to the readings done over the past couple of weeks, I would say there is a lot of overlap amongst them.  All the readings are concerned with blogging and trying to teach to the public how they can use these new methods of communication to better their careers and lives.  Idealistically, this is a beautiful concept, but I do no think it can work so simply at a practical level.  What I see in these readings is a lack of communication to receivers that are amateurs in the digital field.  Regardless of their age, many people are still very frightened by the online world because it’s not something tangible they can identify.  It is fear that stops many people from being able to use the online world to their advantage.            

I feel that both Naked Conversations and We the Media give some very good advice about why joining the digital conversation is important.  However, both books should have reached out to readers a little more.  I think they assume readers know too much and skip over some of the basics.  I think audiences will start to feel more comfortable about the digital environment when they realize what lies behind it.  As surprising as this may sound, many people nowadays still have no clue what blogs are.  Also, it would be best to reassure people on the nature of blogging.  I feel that many of them still view it as being something ominous that may compromise their privacy.  The root of the problem as to why people are not using blogs as much as they should (and this includes companies) is because it is still unfamiliar terrain for them.  The best way to remedy their skepticism is through education.          

Another feeling I have is that blogging is used comparatively more in the US than throughout the rest of the world.  That’s not to say that foreign countries don’t also enjoy blogging.  It’s just that US society seems to use technology and media to communicate more than most other countries.  Other cultures still value very much the personal approach and can’t really conceive of having a very big conversation online.  Along these lines, some cultures don’t even have the capital to own a computer in their household, which consequently makes the advancement of blogging and other processes more difficult to achieve.  Naked Conversations did a good job at alluding to this and pointing out the various differences amongst countries.  We the Media gave a good explanation of how violating freedom of speech in some nations creates an inhibition to the dispersion of blogs.  I think we will see changes all over the world in years to come.  However, right now both authors would agree that business negotiations can occur much more swiftly with some countries as opposed to others.    

Posted by: lunacouture | February 17, 2008

Reading Response Week 4

The book Naked Conversations commences by putting everything into perspective for the reader. It paints a clear picture in terms of how companies may channel technology towards their greater good.  The authors suggest that blogs help consumers view businesses more favorably. The book uses the example of how Microsoft started blogging in order to seem more approachable to its consumers.  Along these same principles, the book also suggests that businesses will function best once they tune in and realize what the public thinks about them.  They emphasize that this may be particularly useful for smaller businesses.  Blogs seem to create conversation by causing people to be more open about what they say. The text argues that publishing on any number of issues gives people a sense of collectivity and working together.   

The text discusses this idea of the “word-of-mouth” (p.43) relating to blogs. The concept is that blogs will be able to spread news faster and probably more accurately than any other communication method, due to people’s natural inclination of indulging in conversation.  It is also harder to hide issues because everyone is on the lookout for new information that can be made accessible to the public in a matter of minutes.  In the final chapters, the book also discusses blogging tendencies around the world.  It is interesting to note that even within the same continent, there are such discrepancies. The example they give is France that has many more bloggers than Germany, despite the lower population level overall.  The book emphasizes that cultural habits and mentalities will have the largest impact on the way people blog.                  

 Although Scoble and Israel make some excellent points, there are some aspects with which I do not concord.  For instance, I do not agree that all businesses are better off if they start blogging.  While I think it’s advisable for businesses to keep up to date with what is going on, I do not think all business types necessarily work well with a blog. I think it really depends on the type of business and what they are working to promote or sell. Some businesses have products that may be of greater interest to the public, so customer feedback is necessary and appreciated.  On the other hand, some businesses may operate in sectors in which it is best for them to keep on a low profile and work with a very specific type of clientele. In this case exposing this type of company on the web with a blog is probably not in the company’s best interest, primarily for reasons related to privacy. 

I agree with the book’s point that blogs have helped society speak more openly about several issues.  Citizens will be more honest about what they write, as opposed to the media which does not always present readers with the full story. This has proven to be true, and people have done a great job at overcoming this breach in the digital age. A relevant, recent example is the scandal associated with the American Idol TV show.  People are speculating that the show is possibly fixed this season, as several of the contestants were not amateurs.  I have never watched the show and yet I know all about what is happening, thanks to bloggers who have done research and written several posts on the issue.   As someone who has some experience working in show business, I am not surprised to know of these occurrences.  However, people who are not familiar with the business can now know what’s going on thanks to the potency of blogs.    

 What’s even more remarkable is the sense of collectivity mentioned in the readings that can be seen throughout the web.  I recently discovered a travel blog on the New York Times.  I think it is remarkable the way people post their travel related questions and then someone they do not even know responds to them accurately.  This is also a perfect example of the word-of-mouth idea mentioned in the book that gets around much more effectively on the web.  In the past, travelers were mostly dependent on travel agencies for answers, which surely had their own interests in promoting certain destinations. Today they can get a more realistic view of what a place is like by listening to the experience of others.  

I thought the cultural differences mentioned in the book with regards to how people blog was fascinating.  As someone who lives in Europe at the moment, I was surprised to see the statistics.  It is interesting because Germany is considered to be one of the most technologically advanced countries in Europe and yet they do not like to use technology for blogging purposes.  In comparison, places such as Italy that are later adaptors of technology, seem to be more comfortable using blogs, as mentioned in last week’s book We the Media.  I think this is interesting because it demonstrates that having a blog is not about being technologically savvy, but rather about a culture’s level of expression. No doubt Italy is a low-context culture, with a population of extroverts that oppose society openly. I think this makes them more suited for blogging. The book mentions that German people are more reserved, which makes them less inclined to blogging. If they do not express themselves much in person, it is probably not very likely they feel comfortable doing so on the web.  

Much of what was written by Scoble and Israel reminds me of what has been stated by Gillmor.  He suggested not undermining blogs because they may really produce some amazing outcomes.  Gillmor also mentions how citizen journalism is slowly replacing traditional journalism because people tend to be skeptical of traditional news sources.  Gillmor also talked more about countries that may not encourage freedom of speech (such as Iraq and China), and how blogging in these nations is more difficult.  Scoble and Israel are focusing more into the Western world and why blogs have not reached widespread popularity is some countries yet. All three of these authors would agree that Hollywood and the music industry have been hit hard by the digital age. I would have liked to see more in Scoble and Israel about copyright issues that may arise from using electronic sources.   

The assigned reading blogs for this week also tied into some of the points that both Gillmor, Scoble, and Israel have made in their books.  In his blog, Jay Rosen from Pressthink presents a cynical view on the media, trying to remind readers that it is indeed an entity, rather than an individual making decisions. His critique is thought provoking and gets to the point that the media no longer gives the public what they really want. I think that Gillmor, Scoble and Israel would all agree on this point because they forsee and even greater increase in citizen journalism. All these would also support the notion that citizens are creating the news nowadays, in a manner that’s more interesting to the public.  

 Israel and Scobe’s point that the businesses must be aware and adapt to changes in the digital age can be seen in the two blogs we read for this week.  PaidContent reports that Borders Books and Music is opening up a digital store starting in May.  Borders Books and Music has taken advantage of digital technology and used it to benefit their company.  Similarly, a blog on the Washington Post  announced at the beginning of the month that there would be a specific blog set up to keep people up to date with the technological advances taking place in businesses of the DC area. These pieces of information support Israel and Scobe’s point that business need to be au courant of technological developments if they are to survive.             

The week’s readings show that blogs have a remarkable way of connecting everyone around the world through a mutual exchange of information.  The readings also suggest that the digital age opens its doors to everyone.  Anyone can participate and contribute to an expanding plethora of information on the internet, regardless of where you come from. It would have been hard to imagine any of this taking place ten years ago, which indicates that society has come a long way.   

Posted by: lunacouture | February 8, 2008

Week 3 Response- (Feb. 6th- Feb. 12th)

The readings for this week in Gillmor’s book, We the Media, emphasize several important points with relation to the problems we may encounter in the digital age.  For instance, he explains that blogs have turned out to be a problem in countries with less liberal governments.  While writing blogs in the US is generally encouraged, other countries are taking on measures to discourage their citizens from being too open and exposing their country’s problems. Gillmor gives the example of Iran and China, each of which try to limit what is written in blogs. I feel that controlling free speech on the web is a very difficult thing to do given the nature of the internet. I suspect that citizen journalism will only continue to grow in the next several years because I don’t see any real, feasible way of suppressing it.  Scott Karp reaffirmed this idea in his January 28th blog http://publishing2.com/2008/01/28/influentials-on-the-web-are-people-with-the-power-to-link/#more-974 , in which he sustains that it’s the citizens that invoke the discussions and shape public opinion, not just media specialists anymore.

Gillmor admonishes the US citizens not to underestimate the effect of blogs, despite the fact Americans are protected under the first amendment.  Although freedom of speech is a right for Americans, that does not mean their thoughts will always be met without opposition. Blogs continue to be the center of controversy, as well as enlightened discussions.  Many people have published material that may have unwillingly violated copyrights or sparked heated debates.  Although this demonstrates that blogs are working because they were created with the aim of encouraging public opinion, it is important that bloggers are aware of the potential consequences they may encounter.

Gillmor also mentions the importance of using SMS to communicate. As someone who has lived half her life in Europe, I have noticed that text messages tend to be much more diffused abroad than they are in the US. While I realize that this is starting to change, there is still a long way to go before text messages become of habitual use in the US. SMS are really comfortable because they can be used to convey important messages in a short amount of time.  They are especially useful, when you are unable to telephone someone.

I was happy to find out from reading this university blog http://www.campusgrotto.com/text-message-solutions-for-college-groups.html that there is a group called NetworkText, in which college students can text message each other for free. I think it’s a wonderful initiative, especially for college students that are likely to make frequent use of their telephones. This blog mentions the fact that text messages are good to use for emergency situations. I couldn’t agree more, particularly in a college scenario in which campuses are not always the safest places to walk.

However, I think Gillmor should have mentioned some of the negative consequences that can arise from using text messages. I can’t say I have ever experienced any problems related to text messaging personally, but that’s not to say they don’t happen.  This article posted on Yahoo! News recently, illustrates the negative aspects of text messaging that can arise http://tech.yahoo.com/blogs/hughes/22629/text-messaging-privacy. As expressed in the article, it is because of the text messages that people were able to confirm there was an affair going on between the Detroit mayor and his chief of staff. The article is interesting because it advises people to be careful about what they write on text messages, particularly when using office devices. While I’m sure that this is more the exception than the case, I think it’s always best to be on guard once things are no longer in our control.  We can never be too certain that there won’t be third parties examining our information.  In addition to that, I will say that although text messages are wonderful, they DO NOT replace the personal touch of a phone call. 

Gillmor suggests that the show business industry and Hollywood are opposing some of the digital modernization, in order to preserve their self interests. This is a good example of how citizens cannot be too sure that their freedom won’t be impaired by a more influential source. A major debate has developed as to where to draw the line between copyright infringement and being able to use something that will then promote even greater future works.  I agree with Gillmor when he points out that Hollywood wants to promote their own interest, even if it means taking copyright laws to the extreme.

A blog by Washington Post columnist Marc Fisher, http://blog.washingtonpost.com/rawfisher/2007/12/record_industry_to_consumers_e.html, written on December 29, 2007, illustrates the issue explicitly. His blog discusses certain lawsuits that tell people that copying songs to your computer from a purchased CD may be considered illegal. While reading the GigaOM blog for this week, I found a link to a story http://www.dslreports.com/shownews/RIAA-AntiVirus-Software-Should-Filter-Pirated-Content-91661 which reports that the RIAA (Record Industry Association of America) is trying to come up with some software that will inhibit downloading illegal music. This shows the extremity the music industry is going to, to try and protect their industry (The movie industry is headed in much of the same direction).

 The irony is that all these lawsuits are inconclusive.  They charge people lots of money, but have not managed to solve the problems faced by the music industry’s of taking on huge losses due to illegal downloads. The major conflict I see is that Hollywood has not been able to keep up with the expansion of technology. While it is true that the show business industries do well to work to protect their own interests and artistic creations, they must also face the fact that the digital age has changed the way in which consumers use music. Until they don’t resign to this realization and do something about it, I don’t see them solving their problems any time soon. I think a possible solution would be offering rewards, such as downloading 1 free song for every 10 you buy. This would make people less inclined to download music illegally, knowing that they’re going to eventually get a free song anyway.

Posted by: lunacouture | February 2, 2008

(Jan. 30-Feb. 5)- A Changing World

The readings for this week were particularly interesting for someone like me who knew very little about blogs. Blogs have brought about a new reality that has already begun to change the world we live in.  This week I was also introduced to Webb Alert for the first time. I had no idea that it was an individual production that was broadcasted informally everyday. Not only is it a brilliant idea, but I find it so incredibly useful for keeping up to date with what goes on in the media realm. What a great initiative! 

Getting into discussing the readings, We the Media by Dan Gillmor paints a clear picture of the current issues associated with the diffusion of communications. The author explains that there is a rapidly emerging digital world that too many people are still unaware of. He explains that people would be savvy to get educated in this topic, and take advantage of the new opportunities available to them. One of the most important points Gillmor makes is that many people refuse to acknowledge the new media world, and articulate their opinions. 

 In the first chapters of his book, Gillmor highlights the important contributions made by Tim Berners-Lee that revolutionized the way the internet worked, through his invention of the World Wide Web and HTML documents. I found it particularly fascinating that this man chose NOT to copyright his invention. In one of my other classes, we just had a big discussion this week about the importance of copyrights and how much gray area there is with regards to the internet legal issues.  Many agreed that although it is important to preserve the integrity of intellectual property rights, taking it to the extreme can also inhibit creative advancement.  I found the buzzmachine.com blog assigned for this week to be particular relevant. Professor Rosenberg had some excellent advice for avoiding potential legal issues, and delivered the tips in a manner that is very clever. By drawing out a quick list of 10 important items, he makes the communication effective for his readers.  

Another important point made by Gillmor was the preoccupation of journalists with being replaced.  I’m sure Gillmor would tend to agree with me that the best way to approach this problem is by acknowledging that there are now other writers out there (professional or not).  Rather than fighting the trend, it would be more productive for journalists to use it to their advantage. Many have already begun to do this by accepting feedback from the public.  I was amazed upon having discovered cyberjournalist.net. The site gives a comprehensive listing of journalist blogs, as well as wiki formats of the blogs to enable citizen feedback. I encourage you to visit the blog, if you haven’t already (www.cyberjournalist.net) or (http://wiki.cyberjournalist.net/jblogs) because it is truly overwhelming.  The section published by independent journalists is particularly interesting and diverse. You can find blogs from independent journalists all over the world.  

Photojournalism is obviously at risk also, with all the images that can easily be uploaded from phones to the web within seconds.  People will always be willing to pay money for a good picture, but having a good photo is not necessarily the aim anymore.  People want to diffuse important messages to the largest number of people in the shortest possible time.  I would guess that posting pictures on the web in an informal manner is also more cost effective, which surely contributes to the decline of photojournalism.   

Gillmor also explains how government and policy makers are now using blogs to better determine what people want.  Blogs are a good way to hear honest views from citizens.  Gillmor emphasizes that one of the most important factors people often tend to forget is the importance of LISTENING! I don’t think this can be emphasized enough.  It is by listening to others and accepting constructive feedback that we maximize our potential. 

The chapter “Essential Blogging” Doctorow et al. takes a more light hearted approach to blogging. Their chapter conveyed the image of a virtual world in which there are no rules, other than the ones that the individual creates. The authors state that everyone has a slightly different definition as to what constitutes news. They also point out the importance of copyright issues when posting items such as pictures or photographs that are not your original images.  This goes back to the whole discussion on new media and intellectual property rights issues mentioned above.   

Both authors make valid points.  I feel Gillmor is trying to point out a more realistic view, while Doctorow et al. writes on blogging issues that may be more self-evident. The utility of a blog also depends on what type of information you are blogging on.  For instance, the “Essential Blogging” chapter mentions posting personal information on a blog. While this may be read by millions of people because humans are naturally inclined to curiosity, I don’t think it provides valid insight to others. Gillmor proposes a more innovative, scary approach, attempting to open people’s eyes to the new media world.  He suggests that whether you like or not, you’d better learn about it because it’s coming!  

There are those that highly oppose blogs and by consequence the diffusion of new media. As I was searching for blogs via google, I came across this message on the following link http://google.blogspace.com/archives/000914.html by a columnist who clearly feels blogging is a waste of time. This goes against some of the ideals of digital advancement underlined by Gillmor in his book.  

Having discussed my new awareness on blogs, I am also starting to consider the flip side of the coin.  I predict that the emergence of blogs will cause unprecedented competition between people entering the workforce. Although this is not the case now and won’t probably be for a long time, I can foresee blogs becoming more important when considering people’s professional profiles.  May be I’m getting carried away, but I have a feeling that being a good blogger will have an impact on providing employment opportunities in the near future.  

Posted by: lunacouture | January 31, 2008

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