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