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We can no longer freely live our lives. Majority of us, if not all of us, use some form of social-networking site, purely for leisurely purposes. We often don’t think twice about uploading images from the weekend and where it goes from there? But everything we do today, sending an email, downloading an App, “Liking” a Facebook page, is monitored, and never forgotten. It was like Bryan Adams’ famous lyrics “everything I do, I do it for you” were not written for a love song at all, but a song from the consumers to the advertisers, government agencies and large private companies in society today.  Because everything we do, we do it for them and to “help” these organisations market their consumers more specifically, or simply, just for them to sell and make a profit. So it is our information…but do we own it? Whos ‘property’ is it? This is a topic of debate and it seems to be split right down the middle of “for” and “against”, with some people arguing for “tighter restrictions” on the use of our data, whilst some people, for instance, Brooklyn Law Professor Jane Yakowitz, are advocates of free-for-all information, introducing the concept of “Data Commons”

Data Commons An area where everyone’s data is stored, anonymously, and is then readily available for anyone, working in the public interest, to use and gather information for research purposes and target groups and issues. In marketing and advertising, there is almost a data commons like cloud, that collects, not only consumers personal details like there name, age and address, but also their purchases and locations, to target consumers in a way that is most ideal for them. Example, a rewards card is not there to simply reward a consumer for shopping at Safeway or Priceline, but to see what they are purchasing so they can specifically advertise to that consumer the common interests surrounding their purchases. However, Data Commons in the broader sense, wants to have access and be able to use and distribute, everything! It would be like conducting a Census…but everyday and without our full knowledge.

Our data, ourselves

The week 12 readings “Our data, ourselves’ section discusses the way in which there is both good and bad in data privacy. It is understood and politically correct that in reality you might not want information about you to be known by others, however social media has taken this concept to a different level. When we think about how the casual Facebook user will utilise applications as a harmless past time – we need to consider how this is now a commercial enterprise to generate revenue from hits on advertising attached to the application, and to what extent its user’s personal information is going to be distributed. The issue that Jane Yakowitz is trying to bring forward is that a certain amount of data sharing is important. Here’s the problem; there is such a thing as too much data privacy. A certain amount of responsible data sharing is important to progress as a society, and if properly managed and cared for, can help us set better public standards, more effectively run our business/organisations, and generally give us a more accurate understanding of who we are.

Too much data privacy can be unsafe. For example, financial institutions combat fraud by sharing information about people who are going from one bank to another trying to commit illegal acts, so in this sense, yes, too much data privacy can be considered as detrimental to society. However, whether it be good or bad information spreads faster through a social network sites than through a real-life network. Information might be disclosed to a group of people unexpectedly, can be stored indefinitely and becomes searchable as soon as you’ve hit enter.  It can then turn out to be harmful when the information travels through different areas, and ends up with people whom it was not intended for. The readings depict the way Yakowitz is bothered by the fact that her research could be hindered just because a few people didn’t want “their” data being used in ways they hadn’t anticipated or agreed to. The experience had a spurring effect on Yakowitz, causing her to think more pointedly about how Americans understood their relationship to data, and how their attitudes might be at odds with the public interest. Her concept of a “data commons” came out of that thought process. (pg 7, Andre da Loba, The Boston Globe)

Q:What do you think? Are you an advocate of the open data movement?

The End of Privacy

This generation has grown up being completely consumed by technology and the platforms that come with it. Often posting on social networking sites intimate details of themselves, friends, family and even acquaintances sometimes and more often than not in an unpleasant way. But as the older generations also start adapting to the life of computers, smartphones and the Web 2.0, they also become victims of the Internet underbelly and it’s dark and shady ways. Although, being a lot more skeptical and proving harder to win over those whose deepest fears have come true.

The future of our data and reputation:

Once we hit send or publish our data is out there forever and waiting to be collected and used in a measurement or evaluation of our reputation and ourselves.

The future of data privacy:  

“You already have zero privacy. Get over it”. (Scott McNealy)

Scott McNealy’s comment can imply two things. One: Stop fighting for privacy, it’s gone and will never be gained because of the connected and technologically consumed world we live in. Two: Our not so private lives will be compromised even more. Any little bit of privacy we feel we have will be invaded and taken away from us. It has probably already been compromised without our knowledge and has been added to the data and is currently motile in the Big Social Data (BSD). Technology has advanced far past our expectations and is only going to keep advancing, so what is the future of our data and these privacy issues? Privacy can only exist when one person knows something and doesn’t tell another person. As soon as two people know you have lost all privacy, but in this day and age it is only coming more noticeable because the information is being shared and stored in the publics view and reach.

Generation Google:

Generation Google refers to those growing up in this day and age who have never really heard of Encyclopedia’s and who don’t actually understand that the personal data they’re publishing is no longer actually theirs and will remain there.

Q: Have you ever Googled yourself? 

Our Data, Ourselves. Our Data? – MARK COTE!! 

Data Motility

Data motility is the concept that data in the cloud is not just mobile, but can move on its own without administrators’ knowledge or consent.” (Cloud Computing)

In the reading by Mark Cote, he refers to the concept of Data Motility with Big Social Data, and the fact that once we publish any information online, it is gone and out of our control. This data is there for anyone to access and it is now “unprecedented in size and scale” (Cote, 2012) compared to when social-networking sites first began in 2005-2006.

Data Motility means that our data is mobile, it moves with us, however it then moves by itself once it is published. It moves on its own, we can access it but we have no idea where it is, it physically moves across platforms.

Big Social Data

Big Social Data is collected and made available by US. Every time we type, tap our phones, make a post, shop online, search Google etc we are contributing to the big social data, which because of the technological advancements in today’s society, the BSD is now of unimaginable size – we can’t even comprehend how much there is.

Therefore, it is no longer how we do big social data, but how big social data does us. 

The intricacy and size of our big social data today means that it can only be worked through and understood, through a complex set of algorithms. It was only a couple of years ago that companies were hiring University students to control and monitor their social media and data, now that is not the case.

“We already know that any attempt at analyzing this data on a human scale is not even conceivable.” – FORBES, 2012

Social or Scandal?

Some people have always been conscious and some not so conscious with what they post on the internet, although what they don’t realise is that even if they are posting what they think is okay and acceptable, is actually being collected and may even be used against them for future job prospects. This is a fantastic scenario on companies that have joined Facebook to retrieve big social data, to benefit themselves and who they employ.

Data Protection Day 2012 – YouTube

Q: How many of you have your social-networking pages set to private?

Louisa Cavedon 3759765, Whitney Plowman 3847613, Paris Regan 3854317

The history of Face – the beginnings

The first model of Facebook was called Facemash and was created by second year Harvard student Mark Zukerberg and three other students in October 2008.  Facemash was set up as a game for Harvard students to compare and vote on pictures of female students on who was ‘hot’ or ‘not’.  To show Marks state of mind, he wanted to compare student pictures with pictures of animals.  Mark hacked into Harvard’s security network and copied student images from nine Houses to populate his Facemash website.

Within four hours of Facemash being online, 450 students viewed 22,000 photos. Harvard shut down the website a few days later.   Mark later blogged he was a jerk for making the website

For an art history final, Mark created a social study tool and uploaded 500 Augustan images to a website, one image per page with a section for other to comment.  His classmates soon started sharing their notes on the website.  Facemash was later sold for $30, 201.

Inspired by Facemash, Mark created ‘Thefacebook’ in February, 2004.  He wanted to create a universal website to communicate for Harvard University.  Within 24 hours of the website going on line, it had between 1,200 and 1,500 students registered.  Mark was accused of using an idea from three senior Harvard students and creating a similar website they asked Mark to help them build.

Membership was originally for Harvard students only.  Within the first month more than half the students were registered on ‘Thefacebook’.  Mark signed up others to promote the website.  In March 2004, Facebook expanded to other Universities, gradually expanding to Parker to become Facebook’s president and moved to California.  In 2005 ‘Thefacebook’ became ‘Facebook’.  Facebook is one of the fastest growing companies in history as well as being an essential part of social life for both teenagers and adults. Facebook is also influential in political protests.

References

Kirkpatrick, D 2010, the Facebook effect, Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, New York.

Phillips, S ‘A brief history of Facebook’, The Guardian, 25th July 2007, retrieved from internet,

http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2007/jul/25/media.newmedia

YouTube

Facebook History – A brief history of the Facebook site

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xk6GndSBDO4

Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook story Part 1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C2VAIbEdTv8&feature=related

Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook story Part 2

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7XQpAoj549o&feature=relmfu

A brief history of Facebook

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EqcogBeAsuw

Winklevoss Twins – Facebook was our idea – Tyler & Cameron

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KzN6XWDEmXI&feature=related

Adoption

As Facebook was in the beginning just geographically located in the Ivy League Universities on the East coast of America its adoption to now having more than 955 million active users worldwide it shows a pretty substantial growth rate since its move to making it accessible to anyone aged 13 and over with a valid email address in September 2006.

From once being used by university students to now being used by people of all ages and backgrounds, and even a marketplace for businesses and musicians to advertise music, goods and services.  Facebook now seems to be integrated into society with the majority of people online and posting regularly.

“Research done by Daniel Holder suggests that Facebook reinforces existing relationships more than expanding the creation of new relationships. This makes sense as Facebook provides a cheap way of keeping up with friends. He found that Facebook appears to shape the way in which people view their social relationships.”

I think what puts Facebook above the rest is its broad range of interactivity, there is plenty of things to do on Facebook; look at photos, videos, look at business pages, play games, poke hot girls, and did I mention be connected with nearly a billion people worldwide?

People generally start off using Facebook not so regularly but as their network grows then generally so does their Facebook usage, the more friends you get, the more friends you talk to and interact with.

“I realized that Facebook isn’t just a social network; Facebook is actually a society in and of itself. There is only one rule in this society: complete transparency. When you become a member, you agree to broadcast all kinds of information about yourself with the understanding that anyone who knows you will receive it. Anything you do within the confines of this society is fair game, and further, you’re encouraged to share what you’re doing outside of the society as well.”[i]


[i] http://www.nczonline.net/blog/2008/10/27/facebook-the-transparent-society/

The growth of Facebook

With the current number of people signed up to Facebook ranging within the 900 million mark, and with the one billion mark in sight, the company is in pretty good shape to handle this week’s upcoming IPO. But while we talk about how many are on the site and how many more people will join, we tend to forget that this success didn’t happen overnight, it took a lot of planning and work for the social media giant to reach this point.

On the question on what are some of the decisions taken by the “Growth team” at Facebook that helped Facebook reach almost a one billion users?” was posted to Product Manager Andy Johns and he provides a detailed response.

While tactics and planning was important to Facebook success and is part of any successful company out there, it was the site’s atmosphere and priorities that made such growth possible. Johns says that the team grew to 30 – 40 people and everything functioned around ‘decisions’, which revolved around tactics, strategy, hiring and priorities and culture.

The greatest factor, in Johns’ opinion, in increasing the number of users on the site was making the site available in as many languages as possible. The reasons behind this is obvious, but Johns says that “Growth was not about hiring 10 people per country and putting them in the 20 most important countries and expecting it to grow. Growth was about engineer systems of scale and enabling our users to grow the product for us.” Building the international growth side of the team and then scaling it was vital to this growth, which the video below explains.

Also, there were two main features in the office to keep people focused on the task at hand: the first was displaying flags of different nations which not only represented the company’s international workforce, but the global audience it targeted. The second was numerous banners designed to encourage the team to work as hard as possible. Johns mentions two specific signs that hung above the growth team: The first sign read “Go Big Or Go Home” and had a picture of Godzilla next to it (that, according to Johns, made it more awesome) while the other read “Up And To The Right.” That along with many other motivational messages were scattered throughout the office to help motivate the different teams.

Team leader Chamath Palihapitiya says that the key to understanding how growth works can be broken down into two things: The first is a fundamental understanding of your product and knowing why people use it. The second is creating a simple framework for doing your work as making it complicated only makes things harder for yourself.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dnro5EBrJzo

Reference

http://www.simplyzesty.com/facebook/how-did-facebook-grow-so-much-so-quickly/

Shift from stationary home connectivity to ubiquitous connectivity

Stationary Home Connectivity: Computers, landline phones, televisions, fax machines, DVD players etc

Ubiquitous Connectivity:

The whole world has been caught up in a shift from stationary home connectivity (computers, house phones, televisions) to a ubiquitous connectivity; which is the ability to be everywhere at once.

This ability to be in touch with everything at once is now taken for granted and we are consumed by a lifetime of being in the know then and there through our accessibility with ubiquitous connectivity.

There are a couple of basic trends which emphasise this move. People these days are almost ruined if they happen to leave their phone at home as they automatically become out of touch with the connected space. The other is that so many older people like our own parents are also becoming up to date with these movements in technologies, which would not have been the case some decades ago.

How many movements?” – By Caroline Bassett

Caroline Bassett makes an interesting point about this new connected space allowing people to have a sense of satisfaction and peace in the business of the world, “the space of the city is often indifferent and I am anonymous and lost in the crowd; however on my phone, in my own space, I matter.”

With social media these days everybody has a voice and this perception offers a different reason as to the popularity of this openness of the connected space other than just being a convenience.

What is connected space?

 A connected space, is a space where any two points can be joined by a path.

Connected Space when explaing the use of a Smartphone:

Path= The use of a mobile device

Two points= People who are trying to communicate

So in otherwords the space between the individuals can be connected using a smart phone. This aims to explain that no matter where the indivuals may be or the space between them; whether they are thousands of kilometres apart or just around the corner from one another, they can still be connected (this can be the connection between individuals or even the connection to your own connected space; the device).

What does it mean that our connected body moves through an increasingly information-rich local space?

 Rich-media social communications are on the rise. Mobile services have increased in information accessibility, for example: being able to search the news on your smartphone when you wake up instead of having to watch the news on television. Individuals are discovering new information a lot quicker by using networks such as; Facebook or Twitter. As your friends write status updates about events your automatically informed about what is happening all over the world.

 Many individuals heard about the kidnapping of Jill Meagher, or the accidental death of the AFL football player John McCarthy in Las Vegas over the internet first before it even was shown on the Television channels and in John McCarthy’s case even before his own family or friends found out. All information is now available easily and a lot quicker.

Easiness and portability of smartphones

 Today’s cell phones are able to access the net; which would make checking emails a lot easier, online banking/shopping, receive and send various files and photos, download music/books, gaming, and some of the mobile phones have inbuilt GPS technology and thus such mobile phones could be used in the most locations across the world.

Due to the advance in wireless technology mobile phone reception has become quite reliable. This allows for individuals with smartphones to connect to the internet a lot quicker and also to make video calls to the other side of the world and be connected with the fastest networks. The advance in wireless technology is also recognised to benefit businesses. Businesses depend on mobile communication, and especially the communication through email; clients and customers are now easier and quicker to contact with their smartphones (being able to email an individual regardless of your/their location).

PC sales decreasing and the increase of smartphones

The ability to connect to the internet through a few clicking of buttons through a small and lightweight device located in our pocket has seen the increase in smart phones sales over PC’s in recent years.

It is far easier to people to utilise their phones capability to connect to the internet than it is sit down, turn on the computer, wait for the computer to load, wait for some updates to install, log in, wait for programs to load and then to only have a faulty internet connection.

Is society becoming lazy and demanding on the need to have information and sources brought to them instantaneously combined with the easiness and swiftness of smart phones?

Australia’s obsession with smartphones

According to Apple “Behind Singapore Australia has the highest smartphone penetration in the world at 37 per cent and we’re also consuming more apps, the research revealed. Australians have on average 25 apps on their phone (eight of which are paid), versus 23 for the US and Britain”

Some would argue that Australia should be in fact the leader in this field as Singapore is an ex-pat rich country and that Australia’s facts are actually a true reflected of the prevalence of smart phones.

When Smartphones take over the world! – Video

Where are we headed?

Considering we are all part of this revolution, do you believe it has had a positive or negative impact on society?

With this dramatic shift and increase in popularity of easy to use ubiquitous connectivity where is the world heading considering how quick this rise has been?

 

What is Social Media?

Social media is the future of communication. Social media uses web and mobile based technologies to support interactive dialogue. Media is an instrument on communication, so social media would be a social instrument of communication.

In Web 2.0 terms, this would be a website that doesn’t just give you information, but interacts with you while giving you that information. This interaction can be as simple as asking for your comments or letting you vote on an article, or it can be as complex as Flixster recommending movies to you based on the ratings of other people with similar interests.

Regular media as a one-way street where you can read a newspaper or listen to a report on television, but you have very limited ability to give your thoughts on the matter. Social media, on the other hand, is a two-way street that gives you the ability to communicate too.

The convergence of streets and networks

A global movement started with Wikileakes, then the Arab revolution, 15M and Occupy. Because of these situations, certain groups wanted to control the communications by controlling our digital freedoms such as the internet.

A group of executives from 40 countries are preparing a freedom-restricting treaty to stop people copying/downloading copyrighted information and for the criminalisation of internet piracy. This group has had not public or parliamentary debate. It is a way of controlling the internet and its information sharing.

There are two sides when reinforcing copyrights. A copyright is indispensable for capital to maintain and expand attention and ownership of data; and the other is financial. Major record companies and media like Murdoch and company will defend SOPA and PIPA. Yet others oppose it such as Google, Facebook, E-bay, Amazon and now Microsoft.
The group Anonymous reacted to the shutdown of Megaupload, a social sharing network. Anonymous campaigned against Scientology and supported Wikileakes. They attacked Visa, MasterCard and PayPal for blocking donations on their own initiative.

I’m not moving YouTube videos

While the Occupy and 15M movements were happening, Anonymous provided alternatives to corporate social communication platforms like twitter and Facebook for debate. Anonymous’ ethical code has no leadership and anonymity is vital to avoid attention seeking behaviours. It does not promote violence or complain about the media. No-one can promote themselves as a representative or a spokesperson. Bio-hypermedia (mobile internet) will be the key medium that brings movements from the streets to the internet.
New social media & the Arab spring, technologies role in the Arab spring YouTube videos

Social media during Arab spring YouTube videos

Digital dualism VS Augmented revolution

Digital dualists have viewed, and continue to view, the Internet as a “flat world” Indeed, digitality promised a Wild-West-like frontier built without replicating the problems of our offline world; fixing the oppressive realities such as skin colour, physical ability, resource scarcity as well as time and space constraints. The digital was thought to be a new frontier where information could flow freely, national boundaries could be overcome, expertism and authority could be upset. Those old structures could be wiped away in the name of a utopian and revolutionary cyber-libertarian path blazed by our heroic cyber-punk and hacker digital cowboys (indeed, those were boy’s clubs.

It is this massive implosion of atoms and bits that has created an augmented reality where the advantages of digitality—information spreads faster, more voices become empowered, enhanced organization and consensus capabilities—intersect with the importance of occupying physical space with flesh-and-blood bodies. Indeed, it should be clear that the differences between the physical and digital always remain important even when acknowledging that our reality is always some combination of the two.

As part of the global augmented revolution, the Occupy Wall Street and subsequent occupation movement across the United States and recently the globe has from the very beginning utilized the Web while always focusing on the importance of (occupying) physical space.Occupy Wall Street protests much of the early organization occurred online, especially when the Internet hacktivist/anarchist group Anonymous joined in. Social media has been used to organize local occupations as well as spread news about the movement, sidestepping traditional media outlets that remained confused and largely ignored the movement. Once organized, occupy protesters often armed with smart phones are taking photos, tweeting, streaming live video and recording harsh police tactics.

It is a mistake to view the Occupy movement as a bunch of young people who all blindly buy the latest smart phones and utilize Facebook, Twitter, digital photography and so on. While this characterization is partially true, not everyone in the Occupy movement is young; and, secondly, the movement as a whole is in no way centered on the new, the high-tech, smart phones or social media. The movement utilizes both high and low-tech. Indeed, the embracing of low/retro/vintage technologies implies a critique of the role of high-tech gadgets and massive social media corporations play in our society. Protesters both utilize the technological possibilities of new, social and mobile technologies while also holding some skepticism of how the devices are built (often in under questionable working conditions is less advantaged areas of the world), its role in consumer capitalism as well as Google, Facebook and other companies’ often monopolistic and intrusive handling of data about ourselves and our lives.

YouTube videos

Social Media assisting not for profit organisations

Slacktivism – the act of participating in obviously pointless activities as an expedient alternative to actually expending effort to fix a problem. Meaning you click like on a page for Prostate Cancer awareness, but it’s not something you really care about past clicking like and you are not going to do anything more than that click to help the organization or fix the problem. It seems to be an adopted trait of many active social media participants, with just showing there care for issues online, and not really doing anything past there.

The movement towards social good on these networks is still in its early as there is evidence of organizations not gaining a lot of money from donations via social networking, although they are definitely raising awareness and spreading information to a large number of people
Not for profit organizations in recent years have been using Facebook pages and these pages are beginning to become central to the promotional strategy of many of these organisations. They run donation tabs on their pages along with necessary information, links and guidelines.

http://www.facebook.com/cancercouncilaustralia
YouTube projects are also working to making a difference such as this one
The Pepsi Refresh project in 2010, was launched as people submitting ideas both big and small for ways to refresh their communities
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pepsi_Refresh_Project
During the submission period Pepsi had more votes on submitted ideas than than voted in the last presidential election.

Social Media’s effects on activism

Political change is being brought about by social media and modern technology in the Middle East, where the youth have taken to the internet to try to bring about change within their countries and communities. In Middle Eastern countries the government have a fairly stringent control over mainstream media so youths take to the internet to get unbiased, reliable and less propaganda filled information. This is also where they go to express themselves without having to worry so much about public criticism and shunning for wanting to express their personal value and beliefs.

The demands made by these youths have displayed quite secular properties and have been more focused around freedom of expression, expanded rights for political participation, resolution of economic challenges and an end to corruption and authoritarianism. Social networking has given people the opportunity to unite, strategize and plan for change all from their own computers or smartphones, with no social restrictions such as gender segregation to hinder the overall goal. Shifting to such a global format amplified voices that were previously restricted by geography and limited technology to a worldwide audience.

The sheer force of numbers is what the nonviolent protesting internet youths have in their arsenal, and it seems to be working, there peaceful demonstrations have had massive impact with emphasis on the non-violent nature of the protests. They believe by these protests they can take their country and culture back from violence prone ruckus.
YouTube videos

Conclusion

In summary, social media is great technology, it takes on many different forms such as internet forums, weblogs, social blogs, micro blogging, wikis, social networks, podcasts; it has positive aspects as well as negative features.

Questions:

How do you see social media’s role in the future?
Does Social Media really make a difference?

Wikileaks & Anonymous: A New Open Flow of Information or Reassertion of State Power?

In today’s information society, the utilization of social media platforms allows a free, open flow of information for internet users. Prior to Web 2.0, information was distributed to the general public at the discretion of the mainstream media. Today, however, social media allows an open flow of information that lets users distribute and obtain information at their own discretion. An open flow of information on the internet regards the idea of internet freedom rather than internet control. The idea of internet freedom consists of the belief that everything should be accessible on the internet. In contrast, the idea of internet control regards internet censorship and regulation. Instances where internet control is implemented illustrate an assertion of state power.

Internet Freedom

A current example of internet users utilising social media platforms to freely distribute information with powerful, political repercussions is the recent virality of the trailer for the anti-Islamic film Innocence of Muslims. Innocence of Muslims is a feature-length filmthat denounces the Islamic religion and mocks the prophet Muhammad. The film’s screening in Hollywood – June 23, 2012 – attracted an audience of less than ten people. The trailer however, attracted much more attention through the social media platform, YouTube.

The 14 minute trailer implies that the Islamic religion is dishonest and depicts the prophet Muhammad as a womaniser, a paedophile, a homosexual and a complete idiot. The trailer was originally uploaded to YouTube in June. Sparking outrage, the video was translated into Arabic and uploaded several subsequent times in early September, when it went viral throughout the international Islamic community. Subsequent to an Arabic version of the trailer being aired on an Islamic talk-show in Egypt on September 8 (Prusher 2012), protests began in Egypt and Libya and have since become apparent in 28 countries. In Australia, a protest with over 1000 participants led to violent riots and chaos throughout Sydney, on Saturday, September 15 (Bashan 2012).

Whilst the mainstream cinema screening of Innocence of Muslims was unable to attract even its cast and crew members, the distribution of the trailer has led to outrage throughout international Islamic communities and has fuelled several violent protests and riots. The situation therefore illustrates the possible implications of the freedom of information distribution through the use of social media platforms and the internet.

Internet Control

The crises that resulted from the circulation of the Innocence of Muslims trailer on YouTube provoked censorship throughout the Middle East. Google has blocked the film from circulation in Indonesia and India. However, YouTube has denied removal of the video as it does not breach any laws and therefore remains a symbol of freedom of speech within the United States. This instance illustrates the extent of power and control that governments withhold over the internet, having the ability to block websites and search engine results, without being able to directly remove them.

A radical example of internet users exercising freedom of speech through utilizing Web 2.0 to distribute their ideas and opinions is the internet group Anonymous.

4Chan, the beginning of Anonymous

The new media hacking group Anonymous stemmed from internet forum 4Chan. Created by 22 Year old Christopher Poole, 4Chan is run on the idea people deserve to have a place to remain anonymous and say what they like. It was also primarily through the use of the /b/ section, the ‘for the lulz’ section and that aspect of trolling that 4Chan set an example of the power of the open flow of information. 4chan itself promoted the idea that there should be no limits on the internet, and that you should be able to access what you want when you want without the government suppressing what you can view.

YouTube Pornography Attack

‘People deserve a place to be wrong’

The idea of giving people a place where they can voice their opinions without being penalised for what they say is an example of new media power and open flow of information coming into play.
‘Support for anonymous communication often comes down to a standard set of arguments: people should have a place where they can speak truth to power.’ 

Anonymous

Where did the Anonymous group stem from?
As this site gave people who wanted their voices to be heard, /b/ on 4Chan gave people an avenue to challenge the status quo.  This is where Anonymous is developed from, the idea of being able to use the internet not only for the ‘lulz’ and trolling but also to bring about a greater political good.

They went from doing things for the ‘lulz’ to a collected and organised political and social group, attacking primarily through ddos attacks, it is hard to give a clear definition of what Anonymous is but it is governed by these 3 vague rules.

1. Do it for the lulz.

2. Internet censorship is bad.

3. Don’t hurt cats.

They are a group that fights for freedom of speech and are in a way the modern day crusaders for open flow of information

Rules of Anonymous 

Typically Anonymous members are known for donning a Guy Fawkes mask. Initially, Anonymous were largely are a prank group, doing things for the ‘lulz’. Later, they would continue to perform more serious political and social attacks.
The following are examples of ‘do it for the lulz’ attacks:

Habbo Hotel Attack

It first surfaced in 2008 that Anonymous was becoming a more structured group rather than just a prank group when they targeted the church of scientology.
Here are two videos, one is the leaked Tom Cruise video which was only meant for viewing within the church itself, the other is Anonymous declaring ‘war’ on Scientology.
These are the two examples explored in the reading. Anonymous’ attack on the church of Scientology was one of the first examples of a more structured attack on an actual institution or person rather than the normal trolling and ‘lulz‘ prior to this attack.

Today, the most recent spate of attacks have been on anybody who supports ‘SOPA’ (Stop Online Piracy Act). This is the act the brought down the program MegaUpload and attempted to bring down the PirateBay. More importantly, it allows the United States government a significant amount of control of the internet. This is a prime example of State assertion. Therefore, if the US government is fighting for this State assertion and control of the internet, a group like Anonymous can be the fighter for the open flow of information. Here is a video that provides a brief rundown on the stance Anonymous have on SOPA. Although SOPA ended up being denied and not passed as a bill, this was the first example that they United States Government made at suppressing the idea of open flow of information, trying to censor what was going to be allowed on our internet, a key example of extreme internet censorship is that of which China has.

The following are additional examples of Anonymous’ attacks:

Girl Hacks HBGary

Top Ten Anonymous Attacks 

China Censorship Attack

Wikileaks

A more radical example of a group utilizing the internet to distribute a free flow of information is organization of Wikileaks.

Alison Powell describes Wiki leaks as having two completely unique aspects:
– Wikileaks ‘the organisation’
– Wikileaks ‘the phenomenon’

Wikileaks ‘the organisation’:

The initial founding ideals of Wikileaks focused on the personal views of organisation founder Julian Assange.
The most notable ideal of Assange was his critical views upon sovereign state’s having control and restricting access to information.

The Wikileaks website describes the organisation’s purpose as the following:
“Wikileaks is a not-for-profit media organisation. Our goal is to bring important news and information to the public. We provide an innovative, secure and anonymous way for sources to leak information to our journalists (our electronic drop box). One of our most important activities is to publish original source material alongside our news stories so readers and historians alike can see evidence of the truth.”

From the organisation’s beginnings as an encrypted internet drop box, the reach of Wikileaks expanded much further due to the organisation’s partnership with British newspaper The Guardian, before other media outlets eventually came onside with Assange and Wikileaks.

Wikileaks ‘the phenomenon’:

Cardaso (2009) claims that “communication taking place within a networked organizational model creates communicational paradigms that link mass media forms of communication and interpersonal forms through a globalization of communication and a greater interactivity.”

The author further argues “In this context, the Wikileaks phenomenon includes two elements: First, the disruption of news production that resulted from the partnerships between Wikileaks and mass media organizations; and second, the technical and legal measures taken to shut down Wikileaks (mostly by US commercial and state actors) and the reactions mounted against these measures by individuals associating themselves with Anonymous.”

Further point: Wikileaks ‘exploiting the news process’:

Julian Assange’s connections to news sources such as The Guardian newspaper in Britain allowed Wikileaks to gain much more awareness for the items they were leaking to the world than most internet ‘hacktivist’ organisations.

Despite the newsworthiness of the leaks, the way in which Wikileaks released information such as diplomatic cables went against the journalism tradition of keeping one’s sources secret. Also, Wikileaks released all information in a manner that made it free for anyone with internet access to view it, with no profit made or intended to be made by the organisation, whilst most news outlets would only release leaked information if they knew that there was a profit to be made.

Conclusion:

With the emergence of groups such as Anonymous and Wikileaks, one could argue that mankind has never had so much access to an open flow of information.
However, many Nation-States view this emergence of what was once hidden information into the public domain as a threat. Therefore, Nation-States occasionally attempt to assert power through censorship and control of the internet.

Do you think that new media
a. Allows a completely free flow of information, or

b. Is governed by State power? 

Do you think governments have the right to censor information distributed by hacktivist organizations such as Anonymous and Wikileaks?

Do we live in a free flowing information society, or because of our goverments, are we really under the eye of big brother?

References

Bashan, Y 2012, ‘Arrests Made After Police Officers Injured at Anti-Islamic Film Protest in Sydney CBD’, News, viewed 17 September 2012 <http://www.news.com.au/national/police-use-pepper-spray-on-anti-islamic-film-protesters-in-sydney-at-the-us-consulate/story-fndo4bst-1226474744811&gt;.
Prusher, I 2012, ‘Muslim Riots Spread Across Middle East, N. Africa’, The Jerusalem Post, viewed 17 September 2012 <http://www.jpost.com/International/Article.aspx?id=285214&gt;.

Introduction

Wikipedia is an immensely popular and accessible online encyclopaedia. However, according to Jenkins, “it nonetheless suffers invariably from inaccuracies deriving in large measure from its unique manner of compilation.” (Jenkins 2007).

Created by Jimmy Wales, the site was officially launched on January 15, 2001.  During the site’s early days, “a core of scholarly, traditional entries” were used, including articles from the Encyclopedia Britannica. The true innovation of this website was that the creator invited the sites users to play a key role in contributing information to the articles. (Nix, 2010).

How to Edit a Wikipedia Article: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C7yXx3YbcNI&feature=relmfu

How to Create a Wikipedia Article: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1CwiZIsaM7s

Some statistics about Wikipedia:

Wikipedia had amassed 20, 000 articles by the end of its first year online. At the close of 2008, it held 2.6 million English-language articles, followed by over 3 million articles in 2009.

Anyone could edit these articles, whether they are an expert, or a “15 year old with an active imagination.”  (Nix, 2010)

Many students began to add their own articles to the site. Because of this, Wikipedia implemented the following notification: “This article or section needs to be Wikified to meet Wikipedia’s quality standards.” Therefore, this website does have standards which need to be met when submitting an article, and instantaneous feedback is provided for students who submit articles. (Nix, 2010)

However many academic’s have questioned the reliability of Wikipedia, and have strongly advised students against using it. One particular controversy erupted at Vermont’s Middlebury College. This occurred in 2006, when this college’s history department “took a public stance against students referencing Wikipedia in their research papers.” (Jenkins, 2007).

Nix, E (2010), ‘Wikipedia: How it Works and How it Can Work for You,’ History Teacher, Vol. 43 Issue 2, pp. 259-264.

Jenkins, H (2007) ‘What Wikipedia Can Teach Us About New Media Literacies (Part One)’ http://henryjenkins.org/what_wikipedia_can_teach_ab.html/

 

Wikipedia Reconsidered

How many of us have at least used the information we have found in Wikipedia for any of our research papers?

Jenkins suggests at least one out of ten students has used the information sourced in Wikipedia for their research paper.

This continues to be a concern for most teachers. As young people move into the new technology like Wikipedia which produces free information that does not give credibility to any of the content found by students or researchers.

Jenkins (2007) suggests we look at how Wikipedia works on underneath the surface, in order to realise the potentials of Wikipedia:

*Every day there are more than 75,000 active contributors working on some 5,300,000 articles in more than 1000 languages. [With] hundreds of visitors from around the world make tens of thousands of edits and create thousands of new articles to enhance the knowledge held by Wikipedia Encyclopedia.

*People come together in Wiki to write about a particular topic and the truth about it, including the facts about that particular topic, then gets revised by other Wikipedians who does proofreading and facts checking on articles contributed to Wiki. Dissimilar to encyclopedia which Wiki has also claimed the encyclopedia analogy; encyclopedia deposits of an already completed process of writing and research.

*Anyone can contribute their articles to the site, even a student can contribute a topic they have researched in school to Wikipedia.

*Wikipedia is an open site which accepts given entry contributed, even by a student, can contribute a topic they have researched in school to Wiki. Which can mean that “any given article may be at any given moment, [be] in a bad state” (Jenkins 2007, p.4). For example, a contributed article can be in the middle of a large edit or have been recently vandalised when a researcher have come across it. However, vandalism can be usually easily spotted and rapidly corrected, “Wikipedia is certainly more subject to subtle vandalism than any typical reference work” (Jenkins 2007, p.4).

*Wikipedia has a community which takes responsibility to protect the integrity and accuracy of contents contributed; including procedures that allow rapid error and respond errors, meaning information provided on Wiki may be more up-to-date than found in encyclopedia, the contributed article is more subject to continuous revision.

*Wiki has a community which judges at any given moment on the accuracy given in an entry. Entries that receive heavy traffic receive more attention than others that does not get viewed often. Consequently “someone using the Wikipedia needs to assess the state of a current entry” (Jenkins 2007, p.4).  Spot any warnings given on a particular content. The following video demonstrates where the warnings can be found: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QY8otRh1QPc (play 2:05-2:10).

Jenkins suggests it is not a good idea for students going to Wikipedia in search of quick data and does not assess carefully any of the information found on Wiki.  Students should not reference Wiki on their school paper. However, the potentials with Wiki are that students may use reference and external links at the end of the Wikipedia article for sources to cite in a research paper. Or students can learn more about a world that they don’t understand from Wikipedia.

Wikipedia movement

–       This emphasizes a new kind of knowledge production Pierre Levy has described as collective intelligence

–       Collective intelligence refers to the potential to allow many different minds to operate in different contexts and work together to solve problems that are to challenging for any of the contributors to master as individuals

–       Everyone shares the knowledge they know which is available a group of people immediately

Positives of Wikipedia on students:

–       Wikipedia allows for young people to learn what it is like to work together within a knowledge culture

–       Participating in the Wikipedia community helps young people to think about their own roles as researchers and writers in new ways

–       Unlike schools who expect student to study the same content, Wikipedia allows for students to focus on their own particular skills, knowledge, and experience as well as being active contributors to particular topics of interest. It also does not only focus on having the right answer to receive a grade but rather to produce credible information others can count upon

–       Allows for students to feel as if their knowledge contributes to the larger world around them. It invites students to imagine what it might mean to consider themselves as experts as they collect and communicate what they know

–       The Wikipedia Project’s openness to knowledge not valued in academic settings makes it possible for young people to contribute. What makes Wikipedia different to other encyclopedias is the ability for young people to write about popular culture which they have an interest in and  exceed their elders when it comes to contributing new knowledge to the world

–       All types of people from different class, race, religious, ethnic, and gender backgrounds will choose to write about different topics. This could be topics that do not have a large emphasis in standard reference works

Wikipedia space is free and unlimited so the amount of space devoted to a particular topic is reflected by a range of different factors such as what the community knows or feels able to communicate about a topic.

Someone who cares deeply about a subject takes the first crack towards writing an entry and others who share her interests may also contribute, thus often swelling its word count.

Some of the skills enhanced through active engagement with Wikipedia are:

–       Collective Intelligence

–       Judgment

–       Networking

–       Negotiation

Participants must trust their collaborators to fill in information they do not know as well as challenge their claims about the world

According to several Wikipedia’s being interviewed results have suggested that there are several shared principles among them. One of the main ones being that they agree  to work together to ensure that all points of views get shared rather than arguing a point – Wikipedia’s call this ‘adopting a natural point of view’. The focus on neutrality is important when looking at the global context in which Wikipedia operates. All of the groups want to ensure that their perspectives are fairly represented in the most widely English language. This may also benefit young people by providing them with good skills at navigating across cultural differences.

What knowledge counts????

–       Wikipedians also argue that the question isn’t what knowledge matters but rather what knowledge matters to whom under what circumstances for what purposes

–        The whole point is to produce a work which can serve many different purposes and which may offer many different structures of information

–       David Weinberger said in his book ‘Everything is Miscelaneous’
“It’s not about who is right and who is wrong. It’s how different points of view are negotiated, given context, and embodied with passion and interest”

When understanding the Wikipedia movement it is important that we ensure the diversity of participation. We should broaden who gets to participate in the process of knowledge, production and evaluation of Wikipedia

Jenkins, H 2007, ‘What Wikipedia can teach us about the new media literacies (part two)’ viewed 7 sept 2012, retrieved from http://henryjenkins.org/2007/06/what_wikipedia_can_teach_us_ab_1.html

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-zCDxKDg58

QUESTION
Do you think Wikipedia is a reliable academic source for students to use? Yes or no? why or why not?

History Of Wikipedia

The term “Wiki” was first coined by American computer programer Ward Cunningham (1949-present). It refers to websites which enable users to generate content by editing information about an event, object or phenomenon as it occurs in reality.

In 2000, Internet project developers Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger established Nupedia, which was the first example of a website which utilized the concept of developing a free encyclopedia for users to generate information for distribution on a digital network.

Initially Newpedia comprised of articles which were based predominantly on the opinions of expert academics. A major flaw in Nupedia’s implementation of an open encyclopedia to consumers was a lack of resources,  strict peer review processes and leadership tensions between Wales and Sanger in the direction of Nupedia.

Nupedia was scrapped in 2003, and Wikapedia was soon formed as a new social platform. Adopting the notion of “Wiki” proposed by Cunningham. Thus enabling wider distribution of information to consumers who could participate in the process of editing of articles on the site.

*The History Of Wikipedia In Two Minutes – Video*

The New Media Literacies

There is a strong role for adults to play in insuring that young people develop a critical vocabulary for thinking about the place of media in their lives and engage in meaningful reflection about the ethical choices they make as media producers and participants in online communities.

The new media literacies is essentially a set of cultural and social skills required by the digital generation in order to understand and navigate the new media landscape.

The emphasis is on Collaboration and Networking; in short a shift of focus from the individual to a focus on community involvement.

 Three Core Concerns: 

The Participation Gap — the unequal access of youths to the opportunities, experiences, skills, and knowledge which will prepare them for full participation in the world of tomorrow.

The Transparency Problem — The challenges young people face in learning to see clearly the ways that media shapes our perceptions of the world.

The Ethics Challenge — The breakdown of traditional forms of professional training and socialization which might prepare young people for their increasingly public roles as media makers and community participants.

Key Skills of New Media Literacies

Collective Intelligence — the ability to pool knowledge and compare notes with others towards a common goal.

Judgment — the ability to evaluate the reliability and credibility of different information source.

Networking — the ability to search for, synthesize and disseminate information.

Negotiation — the ability to travel across diverse communities, discerning and respecting multiple perspectives, and grasping and following alternative sets of norms.

The internet has placed new emphasis on the need for schools and afterschool programs to foster a set of cultural competencies and social skills which young people need as they confront the new media landscape that has appeared.

*The New Media Literacies – Video*

Participatory Culture 

The new literacies are almost all social skills which have to do with collaboration and networking. From these come Participatory culture, where individual expression becomes community involvement. Everyone has a role in media literacy. We are all consumers and we are all producers in this digital age.

We are no longer mere ‘audience’ members when it comes to cultural production. We are participants.

 Participatory Culture is:

  • Where there is relatively low barriers to artistic expression and civic engagement.
  • Where there is strong support for creating and sharing what you create with other.
  • Members feel some degree of social connection with each other.

These are the ‘special ingredients’ of how Wikipedia functions as a self-regulating process.

Now onto the benefits of Participatory Culture:

  • Opportunities for peer-to-peer learning.
  • A changed attitude towards intellectual property.
  • The diversification of cultural expression the development of skills valued in the modern workplace.
  • More empowered conception of citizenship.

Participatory Culture in Action!

Now a Trip back down Memory Lane With Nicholas Carr

Nicholas Carr in his article is Google Making Us Stupid? talks about the weight of technology and what it is doing to us. In Carr’s article he mentions that ‘the deep reading reading that used to come naturally has become a struggle and that we simply zip along the surface with information processing’ Now what does this mean in terms of Wikipedia, a site where absolutely anybody can edit the content.

 We live in a fast pased lifestyle, everyone is always wanting to try the new faster, smarter better thing in life. We are constantly producing, consuming and wanting more. For this Wikipedia serves a great purpose, you get an extradionary amount of information in just one site, instead of wasting time looking around for what you need.

Clay Shirky states that “Every past technology I know of that has increased the number of producers and consumers of written material, from the alphabet and papyrus to the telegraph and the paperback, has been good for humanity” Is this perhaps true of Wikipedia then?

The amount of reading has increased exponentially. We are reading more than ever in this Digital Information Age!

Personally, as a child of this digital generation, I used Wikipedia for just about anything, especially in school. There was nothing better than just cutting and pasting information that I automatically believed was accurate. As I grew older and became more aware that changed of course!

However this can be problematic if children are not aware of the finer details of Wikipedia. Anyone can edit articles, that means people who have actually studied the field and have a wealth of experience (Expert Paradigms) or those keyboard warriors (Idiots) who know absolutely nothing accurate about the subject matter yet believe they do. Vandalism is another topic continually occuring with Wikipedia, while  blatant vandalism is easily spotted and rapidly corrected such as Jesus secretly being Batman, it is Wikipedia’s more subtle vandalism that people will fall to, such as the date of something in the eighteen century that could easily be changed.

The Life of a University Student!

Collective Intelligence

Collective Intelligence  exploits the potential of network culture to allow many different minds operating in many different contexts to work together to solve problems that are more challenging than any of them could master as individuals.

In this world  nobody knows everything, everyone knows something, and what any member knows is available to the group as a whole at a moment’s notice. What holds a knowledge community together is not the possession of knowledge but the social process of acquiring knowledge.

The possession of knowledge is relatively static, however the social process of acquiring knowledge is both dynamic and participatory.

The Wikipedians bond by working together to fill gaps in their collective knowledge thus continually testing and reaffirming the group’s social ties.

Collective intelligence places new emphasis upon diversity: the more diverse the participants, the richer the final outcome.

Putting the Puzzle Together!

 Criticisms of Wikipedia

  • Increased reliance on Wikipedia.
  • These teachers worry that youth aren’t developing an appropriate level of skepticism about the kinds of information found on this particular site.
  • There are legitimate concerns about the credibility of online information and the breakdown of traditional notions of expertise which should be debated

 How to Combat These Criticisms

Much as educators responded to the debates in the 1990s about “political correctness” and multiculturalism by arguing that we should “teach the debate,” today’s educators should help young people to understand competing arguments about the value of Wikipedia. In this context, it is not enough to construct policies restricting the use of Wikipedia as a source if we don’t help foster the skills young people need in order to critically engage with a site which has become so central to their online lives.

“I can’t believe in any of this information. Nothing is believable.”

This cynical perspective is the antithesis of what the educational experience strives to foster. It is informed skepticism and a sense of the power of communication as a form of action to transform and shape society that educators hope to impart to students.

The emphasis is on Informed Scepticism rather than being dismissive.

*Do you Trust the Information On Wikipedia – Video*

Wikipedia: Not Just an Encyclopidia

Describing it as an encyclopedia emphasizes Wikipedia as a product rather than focusing attention on the ongoing process by which its community pools information, debates what knowledge matters, and vets competing truth claims. Encyclopedias we have known in the past were depositories of an always already completed process of writing and research. Wikipedia is something different.

When you first come to Wikipedia, it really seems like a collection of articles. It seems like a bunch of pages about different topics. Now when you talk to people who are very involved in Wikpedia, it becomes a collection of people who are carrying out a project….Wikipedia was a place where people were coming together to write about the world and figure out what’s true about the world and what kinds of facts are important to know about the world. These are the kinds of things I think students should be doing.” – Andrea Forte

 To the ordinary user, the turmoil and uncertainty that may lurk beneath the surface of a Wikipedia article are invisible. He or she arrives at a Wikipedia article via Google, perhaps, and sees that it is part of what claims to be an “encyclopedia”. This is a word that carries a powerful connotation of reliability. The typical user doesn’t know how conventional encyclopedias achieve reliability, only that they do.”Robert McHenry

Wikipedia is simply one of a broad range of online activities that involve the collaborative and coordinated production and circulation of knowledge. Online games such as World of Warcraft and Diablo encourage people with very different skills to work together to meet challenges that are designed for this kind of coordinated activity; the community may develop its own mods and toolkits that help them to monitor and organize such large-scale activities. Fanfiction sites operate very similar.Through the varying online communities helps young people to think about their own roles as researchers and writers in new ways.

How Wikipedia Empowers

  • Warning Flags – The things at the top of a page eg. No references, In need of attention, expert required.
     
  • Talk Pages – A place where you can discuss and weigh in about the contents of a page.
  • Neutral Point of View – Means representing fairly, proportionately, and as far as possible without bias, all significant views that have been published by reliable sources. It is a fundamental principle of Wikipedia and is  especially important when Wikipedia’s global status is taken into account.
  • Hyperlinks – Wikipedia taps the power of networked culture by providing hyperlinks where-ever possible; this makes it very easy for readers to return to the original source and weigh its evidence for themselves Eg. references at the bottom of the pages.
     
     

    Wikapedia: To Cite or Not to Cite

    The academic skills and learning services of the Australian National University (ANU) recommend Wikipedia as a good starting point when investigating research questions. However it is advised that Wikipedia should not be cited in academic studies.

    The ANU would only allow the citation of a Wikipedia source if a student is effectively able to demonstrate that the article has originated from an authoritative source, with an expert knowledge of a phenomenon.

    As mentioned previously in the history of Wikipedia, the peer review process of articles on Nupedia was scraped and Wikipedia enabled any user to generate content which may be submitted to the online free encyclopedia.

    The ANU values this contribution of Wikipedia as an online source suggesting that Wikipedia offers:

    • Up to date entries on the most recent phenomenon or abstract issues
    • A history of discussion of articles, which enables users to see how contributors have arrived at certain viewpoints.

    While the ANU does support Wikipedia as an online source, as an academic source articles need to be treated with caution as:

    • Entries are not specifically written by experts within the field
    • Articles can have biased opinions based on a phenomenon. (eg My opinion of an issue that arises in society, may be different to that of anyone else’s opinion.)
    • Some articles lack sufficient quality in information, Also information can be subject to error.

    Overall as an open source of information Wikipedia is very convenient for gathering up knowledge on a particular subject or phenomenon. However as an academic source, Wikapedia may not be the best tool to cite information, and the better alternative is to adopt empirical research studies.

Is Wikipedia becoming a respectable academic source?

How many humanities and social science researchers are discussing, using and citing Wikipedia?

Lisa Spiro conducted a search into how many Wikipedia references were cited from two leading humanities and social sciences data journal collections. It became clear that there had been an increase in citations by humanities and social science researchers from Wikipedia from 2002 to 2008, which indicates the researchers acknowledge and engage with it. As we are told at university not to use Wikipedia to reference anything, it was surprising to read that Wikipedia was gaining respectability due to the well-known scholars that were citing it. However just because these well-known scholars are citing Wikipedia, surely it doesn’t mean it is a reliable source? Christine Borgman notes “Scholarly documents achieve trustworthiness through a social process to assure that the document satisfies the quality norms of the field”.

Researchers and scholars cite Wikipedia on a diverse range of topics as well as searching for images. Contemporary culture and Information technology were popular topics that many used Wikipedia to obtain information. User’s claim that mechanisms and information technology where among the most reliable content domains on Wikipedia given the high interest of such topics.

After analysing the findings of her research, Spiro came to her own conclusion that there were four main criticisms of Wikipedia. They included:

1: Research projects shouldn’t rely upon encyclopaedias.

2: Since Wikipedia is constantly undergoing revision, it is too unstable to cite.

3: You can’t trust Wikipedia because anyone, including folks with no expertise, strong biases or malicious intent, can contribute to it anonymously.

4: Wikipedia entries lack authority because there is no peer review.

Spiro also declares that Wikipedia’s appropriateness as an academic source depends on what is being cited and for what purpose. User’s should use critical judgement in analysing its reliability and appropriateness. Spiro doesn’t think there should be any shame is citing Wikipedia.

Among some ideas to help make Wikipedia a more reliable source, users think that contributors should be required to use their real name for verification. This would, to some extent, eliminate a number of false statements or accusations. Users also found that non-controversial topics were quite good on Wikipedia.

After reading other articles about whether or not Wikipedia should be cited, I found that there were many academics and scholars that believed that no encyclopaedias should be cited. They should just give you goof background information related to your studies.

Social Ties: Networking Together

‘Social Ties: Networking Together’ by Yochai Benkler was an examination of the effects of the internet on social relations. Benkler begins by describing the two different opposing views on how the internet would affect a person’s social relations. On one side of the argument people were really concerned that this new freedom would fray social ties and fragment social relations, in short a bit of a breakdown of the community, after all communication was the basis for all social relations. You couldn’t have meaningful relationships except by communicating with others, at a face to face level. This dystopian view was particularly strong in the 1990’s when the internet was just starting out.

“Communication is constitutive of social relations”

The other view believed that these new ‘virtual communities’ of the internet would come to represent a new human communal existence, providing more opportunities and ways of sharing human interaction. This emphasis was on ensuring a utopian view, leading to greater equality for all through this proprietary information notion. The more information some one has, the greater the power they hold.

Benkler examined a few studies and papers in order to better understand the effects of the internet on social relations. In Mark Granovetter’s study it was suggested that the kind of human contact that was built around online interactions was thinner and less meaningful. Mark referred to these online relations as being ‘weak ties’ that have been created based on a similar interest or practice. Howard Rheingold’s book ‘The Virtual Community’ also showed similar findings, Rheingold’s observations on online behaviour and computer mediated communication proposed that online relationships are more limited in nature than relationship ties to family and friends and if given the freedom to design our own communications environment flexibly, we would create a system that allows us to strengthen the ties that are the most important to us.

With the internet it doesn’t necessarily make us more social beings, it simply allows us more degrees of freedom. As human beings we have a tendency to do more of what is easier to do than what requires great effort.  Peer production helped make this possible, it offered a new platform for human connection. While it might seem easy and simple, things such as free downloadable software and Wikipedia, actually take a lot of people working together, sharing their ideas with each other, all around the world. It is through these purposes and interests that bring these unconnected individuals together, with whom they interact with, work with and eventually allow a social relationship to thicken over time. The internet allows us to extend networks across space, compress time and alter our experience of proximity. Thus communities are always revolving and changing.

Conclusion

Wikipedia is a great source for first bases of knowledge, however with Wikipedia it invites youth to imagine what it might mean to consider themselves as experts on some small corner of the universe. As they collect and communicate what they know, they are forced to think of themselves writing to a public. This is no longer about finding the right answer to get a grade on an assignment but producing credible information that others can count upon when they deploy it in some other real world context.

Wikipedia assumes an active reader who asks questions about the factual claims presented, the evidence supporting the claims and the sources that were consulted.

There are 6 questions that need to be asked when thinking about the media literacy movement and Wikipedia.

1. Who made and who sponsored  this message, and for what purpose?

2. Who is the target audience, and how is the message specifically tailored to them?

3. What are the different techniques used to inform, persuade, entertain, and attract attention?

4. What messages are communicated or implied?

5. How current, accurate, and credible is the information in this message?

6. What is left out of this message that might be important to know?

If you keep all this in the back of your mind then Wikipedia is the site for you!

Q.  Has anyone in the audience viewed the history of the discussion section in Wikipedia  with regards to how contributors came to their conclusions when writing the article? If so do you believe that their contribution’s are reliable source of information? If not, would you investigate this feature of Wikipedia for research purposes?

Q. Do you personally believe that online relationships can be possible replacements for real world human connections or even possibly more beneficial?