Friday, April 25, 2008

Breaking the Barriers with Web 2.0

As quickly as we adapt to our rapidly changing world Shift Happens. How did we manage to get by with a Web 1.0 world, and even before that, no web at all? With the remarkable advances made in technology, the world is at our fingertips. Web 2.0 embodies the notion of user-generated social networking.

We quickly forget how we managed to collaborate, not just across town, but also across continents. Before the advent of Web 2.0 how did we collaborate? People spent hours on conference calls, in person -- requiring travel by car, trains, planes racking up expense accounts—But now, we can collaborate via different applications using Web 2.0 technology including wikis and Google Docs, allowing users from anywhere in the world and who have access to a computer and the internet. Google Docs is a shard document in cyberspace, saving time and money, collaborators use their collective knowledge and make things happen.

Second Life is a virtual world where “Residents,” who reside all over the world, interact. Before Second Life there were various ways to interact professionally and socially: telephone, in-person, business lunches, happy hour, out on the golf course and more. However, few of the drawbacks with the old-fashioned way of interaction were time, money, social status, and transportation. However, in the virtual world of Second Life the user can create either an avatar, who reflects an accurate representation of their true self, or an alter-ego avatar, living a life that only realized in a virtual world.

Imagine life in the early twentieth century when getting the news meant buying a newspaper from a paperboy standing on the corner on the way home from work. How times have changed! RSS, Rich Site Summary, affords users to push news and other breaking information instantaneously to their computer. Setting up an RSS is easy, simply subscribe to an aggregate or reader such as Bloglines and choose sites with the RSS icon: and add. RSS, save users oodles of time because they do not need to click through various sites to retrieve information and is automatically delivers up-to-the-minute information straight to your desktop.

To upload, is the action of transferring a data from a file to another. Flickr, a Web 2.0 application enables users to upload, manage and share photos to anyone, anywhere. Of course, it is up to the individual whether to make their photos available for public or private use. Sharing photos is simple with Flickr. Besides Flickr, there are many other conduits to upload information, including the popular website, You Tube, where users upload a variety of videos ranging from crazy stunts to educational applications.

A fantastic application to communicate is through social networking sites, for example, face book and myspace. Prior to Web 2.0 technology, we communicated in person, over the telephone, through e-mail, and snail mail and we communicated at various venues such as school, restaurants, parks, at the office. The big difference is we had to communicate in person or over the phone. Now, we can communication virtually from anywhere: through social networks, by posting messages, photos, videos, and more.

Before the advent of computers, libraries relied on the Dewey Decimal system to bring some sense of order from the chaos of millions of books – a classification system. The downfall of the DDS – one had to be specific to find the book they were looking for. In contrast, tagging is a categorization system used by Web 2.0 technology, but tagging is user friendly and sorted inherently. For example, “Pole Vault,” “vault,” or “meet” or “jump.” A user can tag a topic using various words and still locate it. Flickr and utilize tagging.

Internet users around the world share information at the click of a button. Users share photos, thoughts, videos, promote a viewpoint and can even share their political viewpoints. For example, a search on You Tube, for Hilary and Obama indicates thousands of video posts ranging from past debates to parody. Web 2.0, technology brings sharing to a completely new playing field. Other ways users share information is through wikis, personal networks, and photo sharing sites such as Flickr.

If you have an opinion or viewpoint to share, how can you reach a large audience? One way, the old way, was a letter to the editor of the local paper. But now, blogging has taken over the internet highway. Blogging is valuable for several reasons: it is instantaneous, accessible to anyone with a computer and internet connections and open to anybody anywhere. Blogs can be used to share public and private information, such as a travel diary, viewpoints, and reflections on Mastering Cyberspace for IAS494 at Arizona State University.

Wikis, Blogging, You Tube, Google Docs are just a few of the ways Web 2.0 contribute to the vast melting pot of knowledge. For example, earlier in the semester a group of students collaborated, each contributing to create a body of shared knowledge on Netiquette. Each of the students brought their knowledge based on research to the table, refined, and eventually published a wikie on Netiquette.

Web 2.0 is on the cutting edge of breaking through past barriers for that enable users to blog, communicate, collaborate, upload, interact, tag, participate, push, share, and interact.

Shift Happens.


Bloglines. Retrieved April 20, 2008 from

Facebook. Retrieved April 18, 2008 from

Google Docs. Retrieved April 20, 2008 from

O'Reilly Network. What is Web 2.0. Retrieved April 21, 2008 from

Second Life. Retrieved April 20, 2008 from

You Tube. Shift Happens. Retrieved April 24, 20008 from

Wiki Up. Retrieved April 20, 2008 from

Friday, April 11, 2008


At first glance, RSS technology seemed a bit daunting. On the contrary, after watching the short video, RSS in Plain English on YouTube, setting up my own RSS was quite simple. In simpler terms, RSS technology brings information directly to your computer, more importantly, you get to choose what you sites to subcribe.

RSS evolved in 1999 and gained widespread acceptance by 2006. RSS is referred to as Rich Site Summary, Really Simple Syndication, a “feed” or a “web feed.” RSS is a system that collects web content, referred to as an aggregate. Organized by hyperlinks, feeds use different file types including .rss, .xml and .rdf. Similar to bookmarks or favorites on an internet browser your favorite sites are at your fingertips. Hence, up-to-date information continually feeds to your computer. One stop surfing, saving valuable time.

First things first, choose the reader of your choice. Next, open an account. Lastly, subscribe to your favorite websites. Bloglines has several lists to choose sites from, or you can enter site manually. It’s that simple. No longer are you, the end-user caught in the push-pull technology. The old way, the pull, meant that you had to seek out content but with the push technology information is sent directly to you based on whom you subscribe. (Wikipedia)

The aggregate/reader collects feeds that you, the user choose. For instance, if you are interested in breaking headline news, you can subscribe to a number of news organizations such as the BBC or CNN. You can subscribe to as many feeds as you wish. Some readers automatically delete dated feeds, keeping collections from becoming out of control. RSS is a great way to organize information. (Richardson)

“RSS is an XML text-based format that can be fed out over the internet (a process called syndication) from various sources and received by software, either stand alone on your desktop or part of your browser.” (Descy) Metadata is information that explains the link, and when new information arrives, the aggregator displays the new links with corresponding metadata.

Yahoo is one of many familiar website portals that include a reader, providing the option to choose from various RSS feeds. Plug in aggregates work inside some existing software applications. For instance, Newsgator is part of Microsoft Outloook, delivering the feeds directly to the e-mail inbox. (Descy)

The idea of adding more information to my e-mail did not appeal to me, I already have way too many messages and receiving more would defeat the purpose of RSS and organizing information. Consequently, I chose to use Bloglines because Will Richardson recommended it in his “ABCs of RSS.” Richardson offers easy to understand definitions and start up instructions. As a newbie to RSS, Bloglines sounded like the way to go. In addition, I am adding sites to my Microsoft feeds, which I like because I can switch between my “favorites” and “feeds.” I used to be unsure of the little orange icon that many websites have. Now, if I like the site I click on the icon and add the site to my feed.


Descy, D. E. (2005). Introducing RSS: Your one stop for news and information! TechTrends: Linking Research & Practice to Improve Learning, 49(3), 4-6. Retrieved April 8, 2008 from Academic Search Premier.

Palser, B. (2005). News à la carte. American Journalism Review, 27(1), 58-58. Retrieved April 8, 2008 from Academic Search Premier.

Perez, J. C. (2007). Users tap RSS tools to ease info overload. (cover story). Retrieved April 8, 2008 from Academic Search Premier.

Richardson, W. (2005). The ABCs of RSS. Technology & Learning, 25(10). Retrieved April 8, 2008 from Academic Search Premier.

RSS in plain English. Commoncraft.YouTube. Retrieved April 7, 2008 from

RSS Primer: One Page Quick Introduction to RSS. Retrieved April 7, 2008 from

RSS. Wikipedia. Retrieved April 7, 2008 from

Sunday, April 6, 2008

My Week in Second Life

It is hard to imagine that Linden Lab’s, Second Life, has thirteen million accounts who logged in some 28 million plus hours during January 2008. What is life coming to? It is coming to Second Life and other virtual worlds: IMVU, There, Active and Kaneeva.

Anxious to get started, I downloaded Second Life onto my computer. I named my avatar Esther Rappaport. She had a difficult time adapting to her second life. First of all, as hard as her creator tried, Esther’s appearance was quite hideous. From her hair down to her shoes, she just didn’t seem to fit in. At long last, on Esther’s last day in Second Life she met an avatar, Icarus Hastings, who was willing to show her the ropes towards getting outfitted in decent attire. Icarus teleported Esther to different locations where she opened up boxes containing new clothes, skins and hair. Esther was delighted!

Esther flew, walked, and danced her way through various locations including The Pham, Skin Oasis, and Welfare Island. She danced at the Sweetheart lounge and joined Flashbacks hoping to earn some Linden Dollars, which never panned out.

Shocked by the nudity in many locations, Esther did not know what to do. Her second life was not what she expected. Although Esther had a difficult time with her second life, many residents actively pursue full second lives. They purchase property, attend virtual class, shop and some earn a pretty good living selling their wares. (Hof, 2006)

Second Life is an entirely designed and created by its residents, spending up to one quarter of their log-in time creating and contributing to Second Life. In fact, resident actually pay to contribute their ideas to Linden Labs, “anywhere from $6 to thousand of dollars a month for the privilege of doing most of the work.” (Hof, 2006)

The virtual world is rapidly making its way into many facets of life including, “virtual classrooms for major colleges and Universities.” (Wikipedia) Many wonder what the value of a virtual class brings to students. According to Wikipedia, “Second Life fosters a welcoming atmosphere for administrators to host lectures and projects online.” (Wikipedia)

According to Tim Goral, Second Life has a bright future in the world of academia. The number of colleges and universities using Second Life is increasing; currently 70 higher education institutions have sites. Collaboration through interaction is one of the biggest draws, sharing knowledge and bringing together diverse opinions. In addition, Second Life is a marketing tool for higher education institutions. (Goral, 2008)

However, some kinks need to be worked out “because Second Life is largely an ‘anything goes’ world, schools may be opening themselves up to enormous risks for liability, especially in the areas of assault and harassment.” (Goral, 2008) One of the concerns is the crossover from a virtual world to real world. But educators are trying develop a plan for zero tolerance. Some of the ways to guarantee safety incluide “closing specific spaces off, having students register their avatars, and having faculty retain logs of any discussions that go on in a particular space.” (Goral, 2008) Just as Linden Lab’s creation of the infrastructure has been no small task. Educators will have to develop a social contract.

I have a difficult time getting my head wrapped around the idea of communication with friend via a virtual world such as Second Life. The whole idea goes beyond instant messaging; using an avatar to express body language seems crazy. I would rather socialize in person, or in the very least via a video conference. However, I understand the benefits of Second Life in the work place and in education, but as a source of socialization, no thanks.

It was challenging for me to adapt to my avatar’s life in Second Life. I supposed, like anything new, there is a certain amount of dissonance. After meeting Icarus, Esther’s life turned around. She had someone to talk to and someone to help her navigate a new world. Perhaps that is what Second Life is all about – working together to create a harmonious world.


Goral, T. (2008). Sizing up second life. (cover story). University Business, 11(3), 60-64.
Retrieved April 3, 2008, from Academic Search Premier database.
Hof. R. (2006). My Virtual Life. (cover story). Business Week. Retrieved April 1, 2008 from
Linden Lab. (2008). Retrieved April 3rd, 2008 from:
Newitz, A. (2006) “Your Second Life is Ready”. Popular Science. Retrieved April 2, 2008 from
Second Life. (2008) Wikipedia Retrieved April 3, 2008 from

Friday, February 29, 2008

Web 2.0

Web 2.0 refers to internet-based services that are collaborative and shared among users. Examples of Web 2.0 services include, but not limited to the following: wikis, social networks, image sharing (photo bucket, flickr) and video sharing (you tube). Sharing and collaboration of ideas can be done either publicly or to a specific audience. The power of Web 2.0 is that users work together to create content through multiple authoring. There are over 100 million images provided by 4 million users on Flickr. (Moore, 2007)

Shared collections include links, photos, documents, and video. Tagging is a method to title and access pictures or other collections linked to a tag. For example, the flickr account that I created has two collections. I tagged all the pictures that pertain to pole vault as “polevault” and sunsets I tagged “sunsets.” A user can browse through flickr and sort by tag; all images that surface are tagged by specific names. However, just because an image is tagged with a specific title does not mean every image will be represented by the tag name.

According to Barton Goldenburg, “The purse strings of the future are controlled by the digital client.” Who is the digital client? A millennial under the age of 23 who spends 8.5 hours per day connected digitally. Digital clients are influencing the design and implementation of online business. (Goldenberg, 2008)

In addition to social networks and wikis, Web 2.0 includes RSS feeds, widgets and podcasts; aligning with the social connection. Each one shares three rules:
1. user generated content
2. social networking
3. distintermediation (getting rid of the middleman – business conducted directly with the consumer)
Suggestions for brushing up on Web 2.0 knowledge include getting to know the culture, participate, open a facebook account, create a blog or download a podcast. (Goldenberg, 2008).

I must admit, given my feelings about broadcasting private information publicly on the World Wide Web, flickr intrigued me. I opened a yahoo account and uploaded several pictures. I decided that a flickr account would be a great way to share photos with friends and family. I set up two different albums, one of pole vault and the other sunsets.
I tagged each photo either as polevault or sunset. After I arranged and tagged I searched for images tagged with the same titles. Quite fun! For this particular assignment, my images are available for public viewing. In the future, I will set up albums for a limited audience, friends and family. Here is my link:

Annotated Reference link:

Goldenberg, B. (2008). Always on. CRM Magazine, 12(2), 27-31. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier on February 26, 2008.

Moore, M. G. (2007). Editorial: Web 2.0: Does it really matter?Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier on February 26, 2008.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

USENET and WELL Reflections

I am a younger baby-boomer and am fortunate to have a decent degree of competence to navigate my way through cyberspace. However, I am extremely uncomfortable with the open communication of public discussion venues such as the USENET. It seems odd that people all around the world are having online conversations with people they do not know. I don’t completely disagree with the notion of discussing topics of interest or for individuals seeking knowledge. In fact, after reading about The WELL, I am more inclined to participate in a discussion under their guidelines.

Maybe, I relate to my generation’s value to some degree of anonymity. I am more comfortable with a discussion between a few people… of my choice, without the concern that my thoughts are going to be spread in cyberspace open to anyone to read. I would like to be in charge of my “great ideas” and who and where they get shared.

I was not comfortable jumping into most of the conversations. There are a couple of reasons for my uneasiness. First, finding a discussion that I was willing to either share my own knowledge or feel like I have something to share. Secondly, I don’t like putting my name out in cyberspace for all to see. I identified with the Peanut Butter and Jelly discussion for several reasons. I grew up eating peanut butter sandwiches every single day, until I discovered bologna wasn’t so bad after all; you could say I have a kinship with fellow peanut butter eaters. Secondly, last month when I was walking through Scottsdale Fashion Square I noticed: PB Loco, a new restaurant. It had the perfect location – on the same level as all of the children oriented stores. The menu consisted of several variations of peanut butter and jelly; a perfect location to capture consumers shopping with and for their children. Armed with this new found information I was ready and able to discuss my thoughts with this particular group.

Discussion groups have a future. Every day more people are online looking for someone to talk to and more importantly, someone that will listen to them. While there are thousands of discussion groups available in different languages, originating in different countries and covering an assortment of topics USENET and the WELL provide a platform for knowledge sharing in a mature and thoughtful manner. According to Stewart Brand, “the Internet is more intimate than the phone. Communication between people is the most natural use of computers." Discussion groups provide a place for individuals to share new ideas, providing a venue that encourages new ideas. Groups such as the WELL seem to be a perfect place for knowledge sharing.


Edwards, O. (1995). Stewart brand. Forbes, 156(5), 166-167. Retrieved on February 24, 2008 from Academic Search Premier.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

User Beware

How often do we open our e-mail messages without a second thought? Unfortunately, on this particular day an unsuspecting victim reads the subject line. The subject line says: “do not delete.” Curiosity takes over, and he/she opens the message. What should you do? You delete.

Damage from an internet hoax ranges from annoyance to a complete breakdown of a computer. Hoaxes take up bandwidth and waste time and energy of users and Internet Service Providers (ISPs). Although, it is more difficult to ascertain the actual cost of hardware and bandwidth” (Rohan 1998). According to AOL spokesperson, Rich D’Amato: “The biggest cost is the way (hoaxes) impacts our members’ online experience.”

According to Ensman, e-mail hoaxes can “pull at the heart strings.” Other messages send a more threatening message that is attention grabbing. For example, urban legends, stories that seem real and take on a life of their own—perpetuated by unknowing victims. According to Glass, virtually “all hoax viruses are chainletters.”

The best way to combat hoaxes is to not forward them to other users. Hoaxes come in a variety of ways including: chain letters, petitions, missing children, warnings of viruses and more. How do you detect a hoax? Ensman suggests the following:

§ “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
§ If it sounds too bad to be true, it probably isn’t.
§ If it comes from a dubious source, question the message.
§ If it confuses you, remember that the confusion may be deliberate…
§ If it makes vague references to evidence or well-known companies or computer authorities check the hoax out with them.”

There are several sources available to protect you again viruses including Symantec/Norton Anti-Virus Research: and Macafee Software: A good resource to verify hoaxes is through the U.S. Department of Energy’s Computer Incident Advisory Capability Team (CIAC): . Similar to the adage “buyer beware,” computer users should always beware of e-mails that come from unknown sources.

Ensman, R. (2000, February). The scoop on internet hoaxes. Poptronics, 1(20), PS-3. Retrieved February 8, 2008, from Academic Search Premner database.
Glass, B. (2001, May 8). Viruses That Aren’t. PC Magazine, 20(9), 100. Retrieved February 8, 2008, from Academic Search Premier database.
Rohan, R., & Muhammad, T. (1998, June). How to spot an internet hoax. Black Enterprise, 28(11), 64. Retrieved February 8, 2008, from Academic Search Premier database.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

From Etiquette to Netiquette

At first glance, the guidelines in netiquette seem exceedingly long and full of rules and regulations of acceptable standards for Internet usage. However, when compared to the Emily Post’s book on etiquette published in the early 1900s entitled Etiquette: The Blue Book of Social Usage, netiquette does not seem so long and tedious. Post’s book is close to 900 pages and continuously revised to meet the changing culture of society. More than likely, the Internet’s netiquette will change as its use expands.

Several sources provide insight to netiquette. Delaware Technical and Community College provides a website to inform their students about Netiquette. The site provides information such as how to conduct an online conversation. The reader does not have the benefit of observing the sender’s body language and relies entirely on the words in the message. Sometimes perfectly innocent messages may be misconstrued resulting in misunderstanding between the reader and the sender.

Another area to be careful with is the use of smiley faces and symbols to convey emotion. Like most things in life… moderation. A symbol will not necessarily change the emotion that the reader. A few commons smiley’s include: :- ) happy, :- ( sad, :-o surprised and
;-) winking. For more examples, visit the Unofficial Smiley Dictionary at

Generally, e-mails and postings should be short and concise. However, when a message is long, a warning to the reader should be included in the subject line. As a result, the reader has the option to read the message in its entirety at their leisure. A message is long when it is more than 100 lines.

Another important rule of Netiquette is warning the reader(s) that the message may “spoil” the ending of a book or movie. The sender should indicate “spoiler” in the subject line and further precaution by adding several blank lines at the beginning of the message.
For more information check out

In an article written by Brian Sullivan for Computerworld, he identifies several important Netiquette rules. For example, in an office environment where e-mails are a common way of communication, do not ask what an individual thought of the lengthy e-mail sent five minutes prior. Give the reader a chance to read, reflect and respond…via e-mail (Sullivan 2002).

Just as Emily Post’s book on etiquette is long, so is Netiquette. Unfortunately, it seems that many Internet users have no idea there is such a thing as Internet etiquette. Taking classes such as Mastering Cyberspace at Arizona State University is one way for Internet users to learn about Netiquette.

Master the Basics: Netiquette.
Post, E. (1922). New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.
Sullivan, B/ (2002, March). Netiquette. Computerworld. 36(10) p. 48. Retrieved February 2, 2008, from Academic Search Premier.
Unofficial Smiley Dictionary.
Weinman, B. Why I Keep The Boulder Pledge. Retrived February 2, 2008 from the Bill Weinman webpage.