Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Summary for September 24, 2008

This week, the article I read was by Tim O'Reilly and it's called "What Is Web 2.0: Design patterns and business models for the next generation of software." The article describes what Web 2.0 is and how it differs from Web 1.0. The idea for Web 2.0 after the dot-com burst in 2001. O'Reilly, along with Dale Dougherty, wanted to invent something that was more functional, easier to use and just over-all better software. There are a few differences between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0, and O'Reilly lists the main ones in the article. Web 1.0 consisted of things such as DoubleClick,, and personal websites; while Web 2.0 consists of things such as Google AdSense, Napster and blogs.

One of the features that Web 2.0 consists of is the start of blogs. Blogs are personal pages that people make in order to "tell" the world how they are feeling. RSS has made all this possible. "RSS is the most significant advance in the fundamental architecture of the web since early hackers realized that CGI could be used to create database-backed websites" (O'Reilly, 10). What RSS does is that it allows people who are interested in someone's blog to subscribe to it. Subscribing to a blog basically means that you are very interested in what you see and you would like to come back and see more.

It's interesting to read about the invention of Web 2.0, and all of it's components. Web 2.0 makes the web a lot more customizable and user-friendly, which is good because nowadays so many people use the web. It ultimately allows users to not just view the web and get information, but contribute to it and customize it!


O’Reilly, Tim (2005). What is Web 2.0: Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation Of Software.
Retrieved August 21, 2008 from ttp:/

A "Purrfect" Place for Cat Lovers!

It's always nice to have a best friend or a significant other who you care about tremendously. In the Yahoo! group that I have followed for the past 5 days, the members are there for one common purpose, and that is to discuss issues related to their best friends: their cats and/or kittens. It doesn’t take long to see that the member’s lives just wouldn’t be “purr-fect” without their cats. The group I observed was a Usenet group. Usenet is a system that allows the world to come together and communicate with one another. It is made up of servers which store messages. Invented in 1981, it has come a long way since its early days. Today, there are thousands of groups on the Internet that allow people from around the world to discuss issues with one another. There are groups out there on almost any topic you can think of. The reason I chose the cats and kittens group was because I was curious to how people interact with each other when talking a topic that is not controversial. For example, in a politics discussion group I was also checking out, you have people arguing back and forth all the time. I was very curious if the same would be true for a discussion group about cats and kittens.

While the group has over 5,000 members, only a handful of those people actually frequent the group on a daily, or even weekly basis. Topics being discussed in the group vary greatly. Members discuss anything from health related issues, to personal stories, to sharing tips on how to raise your cat. The whole idea of a group revolved around cats seemed kind of silly to me at first, but as I frequented the group more, I realized that the group could actually be very helpful. One woman, a 42 year old single woman from Kentucky, wrote a frantic post about her cat who was sick and not eating food. She asked the other members if this was normal or if she should take her beloved pet to the vet, and the advice might have saved her cat’s life because the other users recommended she take him to the vet to get checked out. However, many of the postings are also light-hearted, as the members share stories about, for instance, funny things their cats do around the house.

As I read a lot of these postings, I thought about the demographics of the users. By looking at the list of user names, almost all of the postings were done by women. I clicked on a few of their profiles, and saw that a lot of them were women from the Midwest and South, between the ages of 30 and 60. I was curious as to whether or not any of the users are male, because a group about cats would generally be stereo-typed as a woman’s place to chat. Many of the user names were not first names, but nicknames instead, so that made me wonder as to whether or not there were males in the group who were trying to post without everyone knowing that they were a male in a predominantly female group.

As stated in Brenda Danet’s article “Text as mask: Gender, play and performance on the Internet”, the ability to use a gender-neutral nickname “guarantees to those who type that they will be ‘heard’ without having to compete for the floor” (Danet, 136). This problem usually applies to females in a male dominated forum, like sports or cars, where the men often times overlook what females have to say because they believe that women are less knowledgeable in the subject. But in the cats group, the opposite problem exists. Since women are stereotyped as the ones raising and caring for cats, men might feel like if they post something, women won’t take them seriously or will wonder why they are posting here, and are not interested in something more “manly” then cats and kittens. But the ability to remain gender-anonymous on Usenet groups gives men the ability to post without hesitation. “Because people can type in their pajamas in the middle of the night, it is easy for them to pretend to be someone else!” (Danet, 136). The anonymity of the Internet allows men to participate in this group without having to reveal their gender if they do not wish to.

In this particular group, I thought it was interesting because there are not a lot of males, and there was not a lot of spam or free-riding. Almost all of the postings were legit and on-topic. I wonder if that is because males are more likely to post spam messages than females are. But regardless, I feel like the lack of spam made the group a lot more enjoyable. It felt like a little community of people who got together to make friends and discuss something they are passionate about- their cats or kittens- aka their beloved babies! It is nice to know that other people are out there who share the same interests you do, and you can come online and chat and have conversions with people from around the world about a common interest. That’s why Usenet groups, especially like this one, are become more popular all the time.


Danet, Brenda (1998). Text as mask: Gender, Play and Performance on the Internet. Cybersociety 2.0: Revisiting computer-mediated communication and community, 136.

Link to the Group:

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Day 5 Observation (9/23/08)

It’s my last day observing the cats and kittens blog, and it’s actually kind of weird because I feel like I’m a part of the group. Even though I don’t post, I feel like because I have been checking in every day that I have become sort of used to doing it. Anyway, today I looked to see which poster’s names looked familiar to see if people are regulars or if people just checked in randomly. It seems to be there are a few people who come in every day, but at the same time I noticed that there are also people who just stop by once in a while. Today there were postings about which kinds of foods to feed the cats, handling children around the pets, and just general stuff like that. One woman who was posting said she has 53 cats- wow, now that is crazy!

I’m still surprised though that there are 5,000+ members in the group because I definitely do not think more than 20 or 25 posted in the time I have been looking so far, but maybe people join but never leave when they are no longer interested, or perhaps people like to just come and read other postings.

I’m glad I decided to do this cats blog instead of the politics one, because it was fun to see how people interacted and bonded with each other over their pets. It’s amazing how animals can help people come together and form friendships. I think that’s what made this group unique because in other discussion forums and groups, it’s more about arguing and proving points, but in this one it was the opposite, it was about helping others, sharing stories and learning.

Day 4 Observation (9/22/08)

One of the postings I read today was kind of weird; it was about people talking about how they love their cats more than people. I think it’s kind of weird but at the same time, many people on the blog agreed on the feeling, so it was cool to see people that come together and feel the exact same way about their pets. I came across a posting that was titled “Free 3 Pound bag of Cat Food For First 50,000!” and just as I was thinking “ut oh, spam!”, I decided to click on it and check it out. Well it turns out that it is not spam, it’s actually a legit link to a website that is giving away coupons. That totally took me by surprise.

In the other posts, the discussions vary. One post involves people who are worried because people are selling very young kittens on Craigslist, and they are concerned that they might not be sold to adequate caregivers.

Free-riding doesn’t seem to be a problem on this particular blog, because most people that are here seem to be pretty knowledgeable on the topic. I’ve noticed that in the past few days as I’ve read through the different postings.

Day 3 Observation (9/21/08)

I was curious to see who was writing on this blog, so I went through the names of the people who had been posting today and examined them. Yahoo! shows the bloggers real name and nickname, which made it easier because sometimes nicknames can be deceiving as to whether or not they are male or female. I would say almost all (if not all) of the postings were done by females. Most of them have regular nicknames, but one person’s caught my eye: iluvmycats64. This person posted a lot today, so they obviously are devoted to cats and are not here on the blog to spam.

Speaking of spam, I have not seen much of it at all on this particular blog. Also, another thing that I noticed that I liked about this blog was that people that write are usually very good at punctuation and being grammatically correct. I have also been checking into the Presidential Election blog, and while I was there, I noticed that a lot of people typed using ALL CAPITALS or using symbols to get a point across. For example, people would put $$$$$$ instead of “money”, to exaggerate their point. I find that annoying, we’re not on blogs to catch attention and over-emphasize, we are here to discuss with one another and get or give advice, opinions, etc. Another thing I like about the cats blog is that people are always (from what I’ve seen so far, at least!) nice to one another. Since it’s not an argumentative topic-like politics or local issues- and it’s more of a place where people can go to discuss an interest or hobby, there isn’t bound to be much arguing or debating, more so just advice sharing and stuff. I prefer that personally because every time I go to the politics blog, there is always arguing and people telling each other that they are wrong, when in fact politics is all opinions, anyway.

Day 2 Observation (9/20/08)

Today I started off reading a posting by a woman who was telling everyone about a story she heard on the news about a cat getting stuck in a toilet. Apparently, the cat got stuck in the toilet and the owner called 911. They couldn’t get it out so they had to break the toilet! Luckily, the cat is okay and is happily at home with its owners! A lot of people responded to this posting, probably because it’s such a different type of posting than usual… and because everyone is relieved that the cat was okay!

The next post was from a woman who just adopted a cat who seemed to be very hyper and she desperately needed advice on how to take care of this little kitten! She got about 5 responses to her question, so I’m sure at least one of them turned out to be helpful.

I think it’s cool that on the blog there seems to be a lot of various discussions that take place, from news stories to health crises to taking care of a cat. At first I was thinking it would be mostly just people talking about how cute their cat is or personal stories about their own cats, but in actuality it is a place to go for any type of cat related issue!

{Change of blog} Day 1 Observation (9/19/08)

I was debating between blogging on this and on a politics group. I know they are complete opposites but the politics group seemed like something that is current and that is being talked about now, while cats are something that are personally more interesting to me. I ultimately decided to join the cats group because I was curious to see what people would have to say about cats in a group online.

The group has 5,556 members. That’s so many more people than I figured would be in the group! It’s been on Yahoo! since 1998, so I guess over the years more and more people have joined. In 2008, there have been 1100 and 2300 postings each month! That’s so many more than I thought, wow!

It’s funny because the first posting I went to look at on the blog was spam, and the spam was about who to vote for as president. Apparently, people were doing this often, because the moderator posted a few hours later, telling people to stop discussing politics in a group devoted to cats.

The next posting was about one person’s cat being sick- she was worried because he wasn’t eating. The person who responded to her said that it’s not normal if the cat is not eating, and he should be checked out by a vet. Already I see why people go on blogs like this for advice from other pet owners. Sometimes when it comes to your pet’s health you are not quite sure if something is normal or not, and it’s good to get other pet owner’s opinions on the matter.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Day 3 Observation (9/21/08)

Today I decided to pay closer attention to what was being said on each posting. Since there are so many, I just chose a selected few- randomly- and looked at them in detail to see what people were discussing. For most of the postings, it was people's reponses to things said earlier- so it's like a little chainletter in each posting.

The first one I looked at was from someone who was unsure who to vote for. She was saying how as soon as she starts to like one candidate, the other candidate does or says something that makes her want to change her mind.

I'm going in order, and the next post is actually kind of funny. Its short, and it just says "Palin is endorsing Obama??" Then they posted a clip to YouTube that shows what they are referring to.... That made me laugh a little bit because that would be extremely weird if McCain's running mate is endorsing the other candidate!

Ok, so onto the next posting.... which happens to be spam, I just realized. That's interesting because most of the blog so far has not been spam. This is the first time I came across spam on this particular group.

As I went through the rest of the posts left most recently tonight, a lot of them didn't make much sense to me. It seems to be people talk back and forth and aren't very clear about what they are referring to at times. I recognize the names of who they are talking about, people like Obama, Hillary, etc., and also what they are talking about, for example, I see stuff about FOX news, about political issues, about differnet states, etc., however what people are posting about in a few of the last messages does not make much sense. I guess that is what happens when you get such a popular blog with so many people on it- some things are bound to not make much sense!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Day 2 Observation (9/20/08)

I still really cannot believe how many posts there are in the Presidential Election group! There is a post every few minutes, and at all times of the day. I thought maybe this would be differnet because yesterday was Friday and today is the weekend, and I just figured more people would be out doing outside activities and not posting online, but I guess that is not true!

Again, like yesterday, there is a wide array of things people are talking about. People are discussing Obama's religion, and discussing whether or not he is or is not a Muslim. Other people seemed angry that the press went and attacked Palin's family. And of course, the war is being talked about. People were saying how they believe McCain will keep us in war for too long.

I noticed that a lot of people write informally. Many use CAPITAL LETTERS like these to get their point across. Maybe they are just using that because its easier to use than italics. But it kind of annoys me because some people do it for practically every other word. And it also just makes them seem like they are being more pushy about their opinion then is necessary. Other people use symbols to get attention, for example, put $$$$$ instead of money. That doesn't seem to happen as much though.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Day 1 Observation (9/19/08)

As I searched through Yahoo! Groups to find a group, many of them seemed interesting to me. I was debating on maybe one about cats, or movies, or even a group about the singer Rihanna. But the one that I thought would be most interesting would be a 2008 Presidential Election group. The reason being, I figure it is one of the most heated issues going on right now, especially with the election coming up in November. The other groups I was looking at only had one or two posts a week, and this group has one or two posts a minute! Therefore, I figured it'd be the most interesting to follow because there always is something being said.
People post about a lot of different issues in this group, I seem to notice. People are discussing Sarah Palin (McCain's VP choice), and how McCain might have chosen her just because she is a female in order to get votes from a certain demographic. Other people are discussing why they will or won't vote for a candidate. Many other people are, of course, trying to get people to see why their pick for President is the right one, by giving various reasons and trying to prove points about each candidate, whether positive or negative.
So far people have been pretty nice towards eachother. They are not being super nice, of course, but I was expecting there to be more rude, angry, and just mean-spirited posts. But in general, everyone is just sharing their opinion in an appropriate manner. I'm anxious to see how this might change in the next few days- maybe everyone in this chat is just happy because it's Friday and that's why they are being so calm about the issues! We'll see.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Summary for September 17, 2008

The article I read was called "The Internet: The Basics" by Jason Whitaker. The article described a few key components of the Internet. One of the first things Whitaker explained was what hypertext is. Hypertext is an important part of what makes up the World Wide Web. It is what allows us to click through pages, and without it, the Internet as we know it would not exist. As it was explained in Literary Machines, hypertext is "non-sequential writing- text that branches and allows choices to the reader, best read at an interactive screen" (Whitaker, 59). The best way to emphasize the importance of hypertext is to say that without it, the Internet would be more like a book and you would have to go from page to page, instead of being able to click around as you desire.
Whitaker then explains different things that make up the web, from images to audio. He explains the difference between bitmap and vector images, which I personally never knew until I read this article. Bitmap images record information about each pixel, while vectors differ because they use mathematics and equations to make up the direction of lines. Audio is another interesting component that he describes. He explained how MP3 file formats can be downloaded ten times as fast as songs stored in a normal CD format. He describes other types of media as well, such as WMA, MP4, as well as others.
The article describes a lot about different components of the Internet, however, I felt like it was written for an audience that was already familiar with computers and certain terms, and not written for people, like myself, who are relatively unfamiliar with the Internet and how it works. Often times, I got confused and didn't quite understand what he was explaining.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Summary for September 10th, 2008

The article we were to read for todays class is called Managing the Virtual Commons: Cooperation and Conflict in Computer Communities by Peter Kollock and Marc Smith. The article starts off by describing communications systems and how they effect the relationships we have with others. Computer-mediated interactions are a relatively new thing, that have become more common recently because of the many blogging sites, networking sites, etc. Often times, though, there is the issue of whether or not individual success and achievement is more or less important than group achievement. An example I thought was really interesting that was described in the article was one that I had not heard of before, but seems to be something that occurs often in daily life. This would be the "tragedy of the commons". Basically what it means is that there is an issue of whether individual or collective rationality is more important. If someone told you that you could get an A in a class but everybody else would get a D, would you accept that offer? Contrary, if the teacher said that together you guys can collectively take a C and there will be no Fs or As, would you choose that option to benefit not just yourself but all of your classmates? The issue is also known as the free-rider problem. The free-rider problem means that people often times want to enjoy the benefits of a group-effort but without putting in the work themself. In other words, enjoy the end result thanks to others hard work but not do any of it yourself. I agree that this is a serious problem on sites like Usenet, which I will explain in a little bit. Free-riding is an issue because it is not fair that people are contributing based on what other people believe. People should post their own individual thoughts and not anything based on what others have to say. However, on sites like Usenet, there probably is not much that can be done to avoid free-riding, since it is a public site that is accessed by anyone and everybody can see what was written before them. So what exactly is Usenet, anyway?

The Usenet is made up of many discussion groups. Developed in 1981 as an alternative to APRANET, it is a large computer-mediated communication system. It is similar to email and sites like Facebook, in that it allows members to communicate with one another. Things that are blogged on the site are saved forever, so one must be careful as to what they say because there will always be a transcript of it in the computer system. There are current events newsgroups, sports, arts, movies, etc., almost anything you can think of, there is a discussion group for it on Usenet. Contributing to the group is easy, all one must do is type their response to a previous writing, and post, similar to how you would send an email- the only difference is that everyone can view it, instead of just one person. There are rules that apply on the Usenet. For example, members are strongly encouraged to stick to the topic in the group and not go off on un-related tangents, to avoid clutter and spam. Also, groups are attempted to be kept as small as possible. Reason being, as a group gets larger, there is more of a likelihood for free-riding. People can see what others have to say and copy off them instead of posting their own individual beliefs and opinions. Usenet tries to prevent this from happening by making a kill file. Kill files are used in order to prevent certain people from posting if members feel they are violating the rules in any way or manner.

Monday, September 8, 2008

What Is The Internet!?

The Internet is something many of us not only use daily, or even more than once a day. We rely on it for things such as news, school assignments and for our jobs, like spreadsheets and emailing one another. But we also use it for leisure purposes, like online shopping, weather forecasts, vacation planning, etc. And because there is just so much information online, the question of what is the Internet, becomes a very interesting one if you think about it.

So when did the Internet originate? explains that it was first thought up by a man named Licklider. In 1962 he thought of an idea to have a global network of computers that would be linked together. A lot of time was spent doing research and figuring out what this network would be like. In 1969, ARPANET(United States Defense Advanced Research Project Agency) was formed and it linked together four universities. The system was not perfect but it was definitely a giant step to lead to the Internet we know and use today. Decades later, in 1993, images were able to be viewed online, which as you can imagine made a huge difference in how web-pages were viewed to the public. Before the mid-1990s, the Internet was used mostly by scientists and experts. The public was really only online when Netscape Communications was formed and a browser was released that the public could use.

The Internet is definitely the first of its kind in terms of the mass communication it allows to occur. But you might be wondering: So what exactly is the Internet? It is a system of networks that, according to, cooperate with each other to exchange data, through telephone wires and satellites. TCP/IP is the "language" that computers use. That stands for Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol. The networks that make up the Internet allow web-sites to form, and once those web-sites are formed, Internet users can browse them. Packet switching is something else that contributes to what the Internet is. does a good job of explaining packet switching by comparing it to postcards. Postcards can get lost, or not delivered in time. You can send a postcard but there is no guarantee the person you are sending it to will get it in time, or even at all. Postcards are compared to Internet packets. TCP, the Internet "language" is what we have to prevent this from happening when we are on the Internet. TCP will find packets that might have been lost or put them back in order. This of course happens very very fast, but in essence what it does is make sure everything works together and links correctly when we are trying to browse, just so nothing gets lost or messed up as we click around.

A lot of people think the Internet and the World Wide Web (also known as the WWW or the Web) are the same thing, but in fact they are not. The definition of the Web, according to, is that it is a hyper-textual, multimedia interface to the Internet- put more simply, you can point and click with a mouse to navigate your way through different web-sites and different content on pages. Hypertexts are what make up the Web, they are what allow you to click from one site to another- basically, the blue, underlined text you see on any web-page you visit. Basically, the WWW is just one component of the Internet. An example of another component to the Internet would be e-mail systems- the ability to send electronic messages to people throughout the world. The WWW revolutionized the Internet because it allowed all web-sites to link together and there were no gaps or networking issues when it came to linking everything together.

The Internet has especially effected the way we communicate with others, and communications as a field. Without it, most ways of communication are one-way information sources. For example, we get information from the news channels on TV or from a newspaper, but we have no way of putting our own input into what we are hearing or reading. However, if we are getting our information on the Web, we often times have a place to express our feelings and share them with everyone else out there. The same goes for communicating with others; before its existence, it would be virtually impossible to ever get in contact with somebody from, say, South Africa. But today, that is as easy as turning on your computer and going to a blogging, social networking or practically any other web-site that allows people to chat with one another.

How many people use the Internet today? There is no way to know for sure exactly, and numbers vary greatly. But some sources, including, state that there may be one billion people who use the Internet. That’s a lot of people who are all using a common tool. The place where it is used most frequently is according to figures, North American. I have always heard a statistic that three out of four Internet users are in North America, which seems like it could be accurate. People in Australia and then those in Europe come in behind North America. The statistics vary greatly for how often people use it, why they use it, etc. But no matter how mnay people use it and where they live, one things for certain- the Internet has revolutionized the way we collect and share information.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Summary for September 3rd, 2008

The article starts off by explaining how the internet is used as a communication medium/tool. It explains how the internet is unique in that it does not quite fit into the original categories of communication, and it can actually fit itself into many of those categories, not just one of them. For example, the internet can be used for interpersonal communication (talking to a friend on Instant Messanger or through email), or the opposite, mass media (trying to advertise a product to the general public).

The bulk of the article goes on to explain different aspects of the internet and how it works. One of the main things it discusses is the reliability, speed and distribution of the internet. Basically, the Internet should be a reliable place where people can store and share data without having to worry. Speed referes to how fast data gets from one place to another- since the 1970s it has come a long way, as most of us can probably notice as we use the internet and it gets faster and faster oh-so often). Lastly, it discusses the distribution, meaning who uses the internet, from where do they use it, and other questions that make us wonder just how popular the internet really is.

The article also did a good job of explaining what certain things were. For example, on page 36 there is a box that lists different plug-ins, most of which we have all heard of but are maybe not too familiar with. Such programs are Adobe Acrobat Reader, Flash/Shockwave, RealPlayer, Quicktime, etc. It also described what hypertexts are, which was interesting because I have heard of those before but never quite understood exactly what they are until I read the article (they are basically what compromises the internet and allow us to click on one thing to another to get from one site or article to another). In the very end of the article, it explains things such as MP3s, bits, etc.

I thought the article was interesting because it took a topic I was pretty familiar with in general (the Internet) and explained it more in detail. Now I have a better understanding of what makes up the Internet. It's cool to have that knowledge, because the Internet is something I use almost every single day, and while the extra information may not be exactly necessary, it definetly helps to be knowledgable in something I use that frequently.