This topic asks us to look more closely at the Internet as a mediated environment and how we choose to communicate and present ourselves in this medium.

What is an Internet Footprint? It is the overall presence we create of ourselves using the internet and associated tools including blogs, forum posts, website contributions, social networking profiles and email.

What is Netiquette? Not surprisingly, netiquette relates to the etiquette that we follow while using the Internet. It requires us to make conscious decisions about how we communicate and behave online. We must be mindful of several important issues related to netiquette, perhaps the most important being that everything that we do or say online has the potential to be seen and read in the public sphere by any number of people.

Emails require their own particular type of netiquette. Some of the most important issues to be mindful of include keeping emails to an appropriate length, remembering that it can be difficult to decipher tone or emotion in the text of an email, use appropriate words in the email subject and don’t disclose other people’s email addresses.

Social Networking

We need to give much thought to the issue of privacy and the ways in which we choose to represent ourselves in online communities and social networking platforms. We should be acutely aware of who may be viewing our profiles and comments and decide how much we would like to disclose about our lives in an online environment.  Countless examples exist of people being subject to termination from employment because their boss was unhappy with photos and comments made on social networking websites. Perhaps one of the most notable examples is prominent ‘mummy blogger’ Heather Armstrong (www.dooce.com) who was fired from her job after she wrote stories on her blog about some of her colleagues.

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Thanks again to our good friend Web 2.0, content sharing is becoming enormously popular. While we have had the ability to share content for many years, it is really only with the development of Web 2.0 technologies that it has become practical to share increasingly larger amounts of information with each other e.g. video content on YouTube, images on Flickr etc. An interesting offshoot of this trend of sharing content, is the development of associated online communities that “add value to the content through collaborative contribution” (Stark, 2011).

Folksonomies

Folk + taxonomy = folksonomy

Folksonomies have developed with the addition of metadata. Descriptive tags added to online content have evolved into a folksonomy that facilitates keyword searching. It is important to recognise the difference between folksonomies and taxonomies. Folksonomies are collaborative, flexible and constantly evolving whereas taxonomies usually develop from a single creator, are specific, conformist and rigid in their structure.

Some thoughts on this week’s readings…

Mathes, A. (2004).  Folksonomies – Cooperative Classification and Communication Through Shared Metadata.

  • Traditionally, metadata creation has been formed either through professional creation (e.g. library catalogues) or author creation (e.g. information published on the Web). The former is often to complex with rigid rules and the latter is often too inaccurate. Mathes suggests a third way – user-created metadata.   
  • User-created metadata is defined as data created by the user “for their own individual use that is also shared throughout a community” (Mathes, 2004).
  • Examples of user-created metadata include blogs, customer reviews and tagging on content sharing websites such as Delicious and Flickr.
  • Folksonomies have no hierarchy and are not predetermined. There is no clearly defined relationship between terms.
  • A major negative of folksonomies is the inherent ambiguity related to the non-existence of a controlled vocabulary. Acronyms and synonyms also present problems.
  • Positives include the browsability and the use of a straightforward and popular vocabulary.
  • Mathes writes of the importance of feedback as related to folksonomies and how this feedback leads to a “form of asymmetrical communication between users through metadata” (2004).

Weinberger, D. (2006).  Folksonomy as Symbol

  • Weinberger suggests that one reason for the increasing popularity of folksonomies is that they essentially “stick it to The Man” (2006). We create our own folksonomies and we don’t need any authority to create vocabulary for us.
  • Folksonomies  represent the power of emergence, embrace excess and promote democracy.
  • Above all, folksonomies allow us to create our own meanings.

 

Memes

A meme in the sense of the Internet is a slice of cultural information that spreads and becomes popular largely through the Net.

A meme is a relatively newly coined term which identifies ideas, behaviors, or styles that spreads from person to person within a culture. The concept comes from an analogy: as genes transmit biological information, memes can be said to transmit idea and belief information (Wikipedia).

As a unit for transmitting ideas, YouTube acts as the ultimate Internet meme.

Mashups

Mashups are a relatively new phenomenon that have grown out of the popularity of content sharing platforms such as YouTube. Essentially a mashup is a product that mixes elements from different digital sources, most commonly the dialogue of one film with the images of another. An old favourite is the countless mashups of the 2004 German film “Downfall”.

Mashups are of particular interest as they highlight the issues of copyright and content sharing and the complexity of laws surrounding derivative works.

Copyright

The issue of copyright has really come to the fore with the growing adoption of digital technologies. One response has been the development of Creative Commons, which allows content producers to share their work in the spirit of collaboration with less restrictive copyright controls. Creative Commons is becoming a very popular way of sharing information online without risking penalty.

Social networking seems to have almost taken over the Webosphere in recent years. Facebook, MySpace and Twitter have become the poster children of Web 2.0 and the popularity of these social networking tools shows no signs of slowing.

Arguably, using the Internet for social networking has existed since the introduction of email, however it is the development and widespread adoption of Web 2.0 technologies that has really driven networking forward.

In the past five years, popular sites such as Facebook, MySpace, Orkut, Bebo and LinkedIn have become the default communications hub for many web users.

This week’s reading is boyd (yes that’s with a lower-case b) and Ellison’s Social network sites: Definition, history and scholarship.

Here are some points I took from the reading…

  • Social networking sites (SNSs) can operate on two levels – supporting the maintenance of pre-existing social networks or facilitating the formation of new networks between like-minded people based on mutual interests. The authors see many SNSs as catering to those who wish to communicate with those that are already in their social circle.    
  • SNSs cater to a wide and diverse range of participants while others attract participants of specific ethnicities, gender or religious affiliations
  • Public displays of connections and “friends” are a vital part of these SNSs. The gathering of “friends” becomes almost competitive.
  • A driving force in the success and popularity of the king of all SNSs, Facebook, is the ability for developers to incorporate applications into the site. This allows for a high degree of personalisation, which has great appeal to users.
  • The popularity of SNSs is indicative of a shift in the way that online communities are organised, with the organisation revolving around people rather than interests.
  • Privacy is an issue for lengthy consideration and SNSs in general appear to lack the ability to sufficiently deal with privacy issues.

The activity for this week was to explore Twitter and establish a Twitter account. I had previously started a Twitter account last year (@rachelarmstrong) and have failed dismally at contributing in any way, shape or form. After much effort I have found an eclectic bunch of people to “follow” and mysteriously seem to be being “followed” by 20 people despite the fact that I have now only just tweeted for the third time ever. At the beginning of semester I also established a uni-specific account (@rachcurtin) which I am now primarily using to promote the upcoming Net204 Online Communities and Social Networks Student Conference and keep updated on conference developments. I appreciate how groups can make use of SNSs such as Twitter for these purposes and am really beginning to grasp the benefits of these types of communication and networking tools.

This week we explore the wonder that is the Wiki. Wikis are an excellent example of Web 2.0 at work and possibly one of the ultimate tools of collaboration and user participation. Wikis have been around since the mid-90s. Something fascinating that I learnt this week is that the word “wiki” comes from the Hawaiian language and translates to “fast” or “quick”. Now, wiki is often eplained as being an acronym for What I Know Is.

Essentially, wikis are a type of content management system that is designed to allow users to quickly and easily create and edit web pages. In this way, wikis are very similar to blogs. However, the primary difference between wikis and blogs is that while blogs are usually created and edited by a single user, wikis are all about group participation and wikis encourage others to participate in forming the content of the page. This is quite easily done as content is created without the use of HTML. Wikis are edited within the web browser using WYSIWYG editing tools. In this way, just about anyone can contribute to a wiki.

This week we looked at detail at by far the most popular example of the wiki – Wikipedia. Wikipedia was founded in 2001 by Jimmy Wales as a global online encyclopedia. It has quickly developed into a phenomenon and currently hosts over 13 million different articles on anything and everything, of which over 3.5 million are in English. Basically, if there is a topic that you can think of, there will undoubtedly be a Wikipedia page about it and if there isn’t, then no fear, you can contribute by creating your own page on any given topic.

Over the last couple of weeks I have spent quite a lot of time reviewing wiki tools in order to create my own wiki. This wiki will form part of my major assessment for Web101, as a part of my online presence. I took a look at Wikia, Wikidot, Wikispot and Wikispaces before deciding on Wikia. While there were some aspects to most of these tools that appealed to me, Wikia seemed the most straightforward to use and gave me the ability to create a look for my page that would tie in with the blog I have already created. And so, the Goddard / Armstrong Family History Wiki was created – http://familyhistoryblog.wikia.com/wiki/Goddard_/_Armstrong_Family_History_Wiki. I have been trying to add some content each day or so and will invite other family members to join me. The primary benefit that I can see from creating this wiki is the ability to share our content. This will be an excellent way of sharing photos and information that I have collected over the years. Email is so yesterday.

Well it seems that I cannot escape the blogosphere this week. It has been a week in which my two units for this semester have collided.

In Web101 we have been exploring the practice of blogging – what are blogs? why are they significant? How do blog communities and networks operate? How does RSS relate to blogs?

In Net204 I have been frantically finishing my draft conference paper titled The rise of the mummy blogger: How mothers are using the blogosphere to transform experiences of motherhood.

Nice overlap. But after this post I may have to stop thinking about blogs for a week or so.

So what are blogs? They are commonly defined as online journals whose entries are displayed in reverse chronological order and updated frequently. They first started to emerge in the late 1990s and have since grown to become quite a phenomenon with seemingly anyone and everyone blogging about everything from politics to entertainment to cooking to parenting (my personal favourite). Blogs are basically journals done Web 2.0 style. Early devotees of blogging needed some level of skill in HTML coding in order to create their own blogging platform, however increasingly greater access to an enormous number of low or no cost blogging tools (e.g. WordPress, Blogger and Typepad)  has meant that just about anyone can easily write and publish their personal thoughts and everyday experiences online.

There are several key types of blogs:

  • Personal blogs – the original (and best in my opinion), written by everyday folk as an online journal
  • Microblogs – consisting of very short posts e.g. Twitter
  • Corporate blogs – Increasingly popular as big business recognises the influence of blogging
  • Photoblogs – no explanation needed
  • Podcasts – audio files available for downloading or streaming

Blogging is what I consider to be the ultimate example of Web 2.0 at work. Blogging invites participation and connection, naturally developing a collaborative environment where discussion and feedback is encouraged. Blogging allows everyone the opportunity to create and control their own online content.

Blogging as journalism – blogging is often described as a form of participatory or citizen journalism. Essentially this means that blogging allows everyday citizens to write and publish their thoughts about significant events and news blogs are increasingly being seen as a popular alternative to mainstream news journalism.

An area of great interest to me, particularly in relation to my research on mummy bloggers, is the ability for blogging to facilitate online communities and networks. Blogging communities are gaining increasing popularity and we are now seeing this move to a new level with the burgeoning popularity of blogging conferences such as the US-based BlogHer Conference which in 2010 attracted 2,400 attendees, 139 speakers and over 100 sponsors.

An area of discussion on BB this week has been the commercialisation of blogs and how bloggers are working with advertisers and businesses to monetise their blogs. It is inevitable that advertisers and companies will increasingly recognise the enormous potential of blogs to market their products and this is no different to them finding opportunities to advertise through traditional media. I guess this is Marketing 2.0.  However, some are critical of the impact that this may have on the blogging community and question how increasing commercialisation could compromise content. After all, for many the appeal of blogs is the author’s authenticity, openness and honesty. Sponsored posts and banner ads lend an air of superficiality to something that has always had an engaging personal quality. Yet how can we be overly critical of bloggers’ opportunity to develop a hobby into a source of income?

Definitely worth a read is Technorati’s 2010 State of the Blogosphere Survey – http://technorati.com/blogging/article/state-of-the-blogosphere-2010-introduction/

RSS is one Web 2.0 tool that we have focused on this week.

RSS is an acronym that is commonly regarded as standing for Rich Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication. Essentially it is an increasingly popular Web 2.0 tool used to both create and manage Web content.

Technically, RSS uses XML (eXtensible Mark-up Language) coding to identify selected Web content. This content is then fed to the user via a feed reader or aggregator such as Google Reader or Feed Demon. Essentially RSS does the hard work for the user by feeding data from selected web pages straight to the user’s desktop. It is an efficient way of delivering web content to users without users having to find content for themselves through the traditional methods of search engines and web directories.  

With the increasing amount of material being published on the Web, RSS has become a simple way of staying current with Web content. Likewise, many are finding that RSS feeds are an effective way of communicating with a broad audience with a minimum of delay and effort.   

Moving on from last week’s module in which we explored the World Wide Web, this week we have been exploring the concept of Web 2.0.

This week’s topic ties in well with Question 4 of Assessment 1 which asks us to examine the differences between the Web as it first emerged and the Web as we know it today.

The concept of Web 2.0 was first suggested during talks between O’Reilly Media and MediaLive. What developed was a turning point for the Web and Web 2.0 was launched at the O’Reilly Web 2.0 Conference in 2004 (O’Reilly, 2005).

One of the key philosophies of Web 2.0 is to achieve a democratisation of the Web and a shift in the way that users interact with the Web. Web 2.0, as opposed to Web 1.0, encourages much greater user participation in its creations. Ideally, with Web 2.0, the Web is more interactive and collaborative, with the user having more control over Web content. 

In order to achieve this, Web 2.0 has adopted a number of tools and applications. Most notably, these are those that facilitate social networking and include web-logs (blogs), wikis, tagging and social bookmarking, podcasts, RSS feeds and phenomenally popular platforms for sharing multimedia such as You Tube.    

 

Blogs

Blogs are online journals with entries displayed in reverse chronological order. Blogs are usually frequently updated, with popular bloggers updating daily and attracting many ‘hits’ each day. Blogs can cover any number of subjects, with some of the more popular blogs covering politics, technology, lifestyle, craft and parenting. Blogs are fast becoming popular with brands and advertisers as an effective marketing tool and many popular bloggers are able to draw an income from their blogs.

Wikis

Wikis are interlinked websites that allow for easy user creation, collaboration and editing. Undoubtedly the most popular wiki is Wikipedia. Many businesses and organisations are realising the benefits of creating wikis in order to maintain contact and foster interaction with their customers.

Social Networking

A huge growth area for user of the Web is the area of social networking. Social networking encompasses a number of popular tools including Facebook, Twitter and MySpace. Social networking websites offer the ability for users to create their own content through blogging, sharing content and messaging.

Content Sharing

Two of the  most popular tools for sharing content online are YouTube and Flickr. Both give users the ability to create, upload and share visual content such as videos and photos. In addition, they offer the ability to form online communities with like-minded people.

Web 1.0 vs Web 2.0

I really like this comparison of Web 1.0 vs Web 2.0 by Joe Drumgoole (http://joedrumgoole.com/blog/2006/05/29/web-20-vs-web-10/)…

Web 1.0 was about reading, Web 2.0 is about writing
Web 1.0 was about companies Web 2.0 is about communities
Web 1.0 was about client-server Web 2.0 is about peer to peer
Web 1.0 was about HTML Web 2.0 is about XML
Web 1.0 was about home pages Web 2.0 is about blogs
Web 1.0 was about portals Web 2.0 is about RSS
Web 1.0 was about taxonomy Web 2.0 is about tags
Web 1.0 was about wires Web 2.0 is about wireless
Web 1.0 was about owning Web 2.0 is about sharing
Web 1.0 was about IPOs Web 2.0 is about trade sales
Web 1.0 was about Netscape Web 2.0 is about Google
Web 1.0 was about web forms Web 2.0 is about web applications
Web 1.0 was about screen scraping Web 2.0 is about APIs
Web 1.0 was about dialup Web 2.0 is about broadband
Web 1.0 was about hardware costs Web 2.0 is about bandwidth costs