Thursday, April 27, 2006

Week 6 Reading

Dan Gillmor's, "We the Media," brings up a really good point about the emergence of blogs and self-publishing. Before the internet, communication consisted of the printing press and broadcasting (one-to-many medium) and telephone which is normally a one-to-one medium. But as Gillmor says, "now we had a medium that was anything we wanted it to be: one-to-one, one-to-many, and many-to-many. Just about anyone could own a digital printing press, and have worldwide distribution."

Gillmor also uses the Sept. 11 tragedy to illustrate the immediacy of blogs vs. traditional media. People in New York were able to publish their views of the city as the attacks were happening. With instant access to the sites, sounds and smells of the city, bloggers were able to tell their accounts of the attacks to an audience, while traditional media did not have the same access. While not discussed, Hurricane Katrina likely had similar effects on blogs and the media.

Mark Glaser's article on NPR's podcasting brings up a valid point about advertising. While still ironing out some kinks, advertisers need to find out who is listening and how often they listen to these podcasts to determine if a particular podcast is a worthy advertising vehicle. Podcasts are gaining momentum, but still seem like they need financial backing to be successful.

1. How will mainstream media react to the emergence of blogs and compete with this immediacy?

2. How do you think 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina would compare in the use of blogs to publish information?

3. Will podcasts eventually eliminate radio? Explain.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Week 5 Reading

"Markets are Conversations" from The Cluetrain Manifesto: The End of Business as Usual by Levine, Locke, Searls & Weinberger makes a good point about the effectiveness and worth of actual people doing the work. The article says, "They (corporations) will only sound human when they empower real human beings to speak on their behalf." Companies can be very sterile and monotonous without real people. The article continues, "Most companies ignore their (people's) ability to deliver genuine knowledge, opting instead to crank out sterile happytalk that insults the intelligence of markets literally too smart to buy it."

"The Second Superpower Rears its Beautiful Head," by James F. Moore raises an interesting argument, but makes a claim that I disagree with. Moore says, "Thus the new superpower demonstrates a new form of “emergent democracy” that differs from the participative democracy of the U.S. government." With the recent immigration marches occurring for civil rights, I disagree that "emergent democracy" differs from participative democracy. I'm sure there was text messaging and blogging going on here.

The GNU Manifesto has some interesting discussion about programmers and their role in the development of Linux. There seems to be talk that programmers are losing their jobs and there is little value for the. Today though, it seems that programmers are doing well and there is a growing market for people entering this profession.

1. The Clutrain Manifesto says, "Corporate firewalls have kept smart employees in and smart markets out. It's going to cause real pain to tear those walls down." What are some ways to start tearing down these walls?

2. Explain some ways the individual contributes to this "second superpower."

3. Has the development of modern and current operating systems led to similar effects as the development of Linux did in the 1980s?

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Week 4 Reading

Donald Norman makes a strong point in his essay, "Being Analog," that I agreed with: He says that, "people do best with signals and information that fit the way they perceive and think, which means analogous to the real world. Machines do best with signals and information that is suited for the way they function, which means digital, rigid, precise." It's true that people do not function in a rigid, precise manner. People do not want to be slaves to accuracy, so perhaps people function better with information analogous to the world, opposed to digital information.

Norman goes on to talk about the technological evolution. His discussion of games and how technology greatly speeds them up is a very interesting point. Using war as an example, he explains how technology has made war (as a game) unfit for humans.

"Introduction to Internet Architecture and Institutions," by Ethan Zuckerman and Andrew McLaughin attempted to show how the internet is really a very simple process. Well, it may be for people like Zuckerman and McLaughin. But for the rest of us, reading this article was nearly as difficult as reading Chinese. Though the authors did raise an interesting point about how it can take up to 70 computers just to send an e-mail. Also interesting in this paper was the discussion of the internet in developing countries. Technology has advanced so far in the last decade, but Americans likely take for granted this ease with the internet and electronic media. In many nations, such as those in Africa that were mentioned, connecting to the internet is not as simple as it is for us.

Discussion Questions:

1. Explain some ways people have adapted to the evolution of technology.

2. Will future technology make computers more human-like (creative, less rigid, etc.)?

3. Before reading this article, what was your conception of the process of sending an email?

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Week 3 Reading

"We Have the Information You Want, But Getting It Will Cost You: Being Held Hostage by Information Overload" from ACM Crossroads by Mark R. Nelson resonates with me perfectly: the amount of information on the web is absolutely overwhelming. Looking for a simple subject unleashes hundreds of websites with information on that given topic. Trying to sift through what is credible and what is not also plays a major role in finding the material that you are truly after.

Natural language processing systems seem like something that could help mitigate the information overload. Having a program in place that can organize and sort information that the user wants seems like a step in the right direction.

Supposedly spam isn't just bothering me. According to "Information overload, retrieval strategies and Internet user empowerment" from Proceedings: The Good, the Bad and the Irrelevant by Christopher N. Carlson, "AOL blocks 780 million pieces of junk e-mail daily, or 100 million more e-mails than it delivers." Fascinating!

Discussion questions:

1. Is there simply too much information out there?

2. How can you determine what information is credible and what is not?

3. Is the overwhelming amount of information on the internet good or bad? Do more sources = a better perspective on a topic?