Wednesday, October 29, 2008

October 29th Blog

In Chapter two of Blogging @merica, Barlow explains how blogs have become more popular in recent years. He starts off with a startling statistic that there are more than 75 million blogs out there found by Technorati, a blog monitoring service (Barlow, 35). Even if some of those blogs are fake or not actual blogs, 75 million is still an astounding number considering that blogging on the Internet only became popular a few years ago.

I found it interesting how Barlow addressed how bloggers feel when they are blogging online. He explains how bloggers want to have a positive image and do not want readers to think they are, in a sense, crazy or weird because they are posting their feelings online. Bloggers do not want people to think they are just rambling, because for the most part, they are usually speaking from their hearts or speaking about something they are very passionate about.

One of the negative aspects of blogging that Barlow discusses in the chapter is the possibility of receiving threats from strangers (or even people who know you) that disagree with something you have said on your blog. When you put anything online, you are at risk of receiving negative comments or feedback, but bloggers are specifically vulnerable because often times the nature of a blog is controversial. For instance, when speaking about politics, health issues, laws, etc. you are more likely to spark debate then when discussing your children, pets, or home decorating ideas. Interestingly, even with the risk of threats and criticism, Barlow says that most bloggers do not prefer to remain anonymous on their sites. Reason being is that blogs should basically be somewhere for people to come together and feel united, and if they are anonymous that takes away some of the bonding that can potentially take place if bloggers know who they are communicating with and whos lives they are learning more about.

I used to think that blogs were just for people who had no one to talk to or who felt they needed attention from strangers so they decided to post stories online. But after reading more about them I think differnetly now. I think blogs are actually a good way to express your feelings and when other people read them, they get to know you, and possible friendships or even love interests might arise out of it. In terms of receiving threats, though, I always was curious about this myself. When you are putting so much information out there, you are more suspetable to negative feedback, and there are crazy people out there who don’t hold back when it comes to threatening or insulting others. A few years ago, my best friend used to have a Myspace and she would sometimes blog on it. The amount of random messages she received was crazy. There were tons of people who would read her information and blogs and comment to her about them. She eventually got tired of the it and stopped using the website to blog her feelings. But even though her experience was not so good, I do think blogging is a great way, for the most part, to express yourself through words, pictures, ideas and chatting.

Barlow, Arron. (2008). Blogging @merica: The New Public Sphere. Westport: Praeger

Monday, October 20, 2008

Third Essay [revised]

As digital cameras, scrapbooking, and photo editing become more and more popular, there has been a huge increase in the number of people who have an interest in photo taking and sharing. Currently, there is also a huge increase in the number of people who have a hobby in blogging, and sharing their stories, lives, pictures, etc., on the World Wide Web, be it with the general public or a selected group of people. Put those two together, and you will see there are more picture sharing/blogging sites out there then ever before. One of the more popular sites is known as Flickr. Flickr is a Web 2.0 technology. It is a free video and picture hosting site, in which users can upload pictures, edit them, view other’s albums, etc. Because I am interested in learning more about this website, I decided to use search engines and find out more information.

I used the search engines and to see what kind of relevant, accurate information on Flickr there is out there on the World Wide Web. I also used EBSCOhost, which can be found through my college’s website, I chose Google because it is one of the two most popular search engines out there, along with Yahoo. I chose Ask because I was curious as to whether or not it would be better in quality and/or quantity then a bigger, more popular search engine like Google. Lastly, I chose to use EBSCOhost because it is not a public search engine; it is run through my school, and I figured the results would be more accurate, because there is less of a chance of opinionated or articles containing untrue information.

I went to Google and typed in the keyword "Flickr" and got over 200 million results. Talk about the Web being a huge place! The first two results were links to the website directly. The third result was Wikipedia is a very useful site that gave me information on Flickr’s history, corporate information, controversies, etc. Although Wikipedia is very useful, it is not a site that can be completely trusted because of it is edited by the general public and can contain false information. As I went down the results page, I saw a section called “news results for Flickr”. It featured an article that was posted just 16 minutes ago, called Twitter, Flickr, Facebook Make Blogs Look So 2004. It is an opinion article and the author is explaining why he feels that blogs are no longer a good idea and tries to convince the audience to stop using sites such as Flickr to blog. This so-called “news” article was a very biased, opinionated article based on one man’s opinion on blogging and did not contain any information containing Flickr specifically.

I continued to search on Google, this time by changing the keywords quite a bit. I found that by adding a word after Flickr gave me more specific results. I typed in “using Flickr” and the first result I received was: A Comprehensive Guide To Using Flickr for Traffic Building and Brand Marketing. The “Comprehensive Guide” part seemed interesting so I clicked on it. The site was actually very informative, and gave advice on choosing a free or pro account, how to tag pictures, networking on Flickr, etc. I would definetly use this website for reliable information because it is like a little guide to the Flickr world.

Lastly on Google, I typed in Flickr+history to see if I could get any information of how Flickr began., which is a credible news source, had a link right on the first page to their article titled Flickr An Idea on a Gaming Project Led to Photo Website. Through this article in particular, I learned that a woman is the creator of Flickr, and also that it is currently owned by Yahoo (Graham, 2006). I then headed over to to see what kind of results that site would give me. Like Google, Ask provided me with millions of results. To my surprise, the results were extremely similar. I figured similar results would pop up, but for some reason I thought Google would have more relevant ones first, but it turns out they both had pretty similar arrangements of results. There were differences between Ask and Google: on Ask, the first result that pops up is an ad for Chinese dating. That is completely irrelevant to my search and is just an annoyingly-placed ad. However, I saw something on Ask that Google didn't seem to have, that I actually really did like. On the right hand corner of the site there was a box that said Ask Q&A: 454 Questions about Flickr. When I clicked on it, there was a whole list of commonly asked questions, that when clicked took me to websites such as eHow and Yahoo! Answers, which had (often times) very detailed explanations for whatever it was the user was asking. This was extremely helpful because a lot of people have similar questions regarding the website and most of them are answered by those more familiar with Flickr. Back to the search results, I saw a link called Interview With Flickr- Creative Commons. This site featured an interview between the website, Creative Commons and Flickr’s co-founder, Stewart Butterfield. Although it contained interesting information, the article was a little out-dated because it was from October 1, 2005, so I think it being 3 years old makes it not useful because Butterfield is talking about a lot of goals and ideas that might have already happened or been not used since that time. The next article I looked at was called What Is Flickr (and Hot Tips for Using It). This site also contained a lot of useful information, however, it also was from 2005 and quite outdated since a lot might have changed on the website since then. I realize now that it is very important to check for dates on websites because a lot of these that are appearing, even those at the beginning of the search results, are not even close to being current. Before I left Ask, I decided to do a more specific search, so I typed in flickr+corporate to see if I could get any results regarding the business side of the website. I retrieved one article, that is recent (from 2008), which was good, called It's No Flickr of Hope.

Lastly, I decided to visit EBSCOhost to see if I could find any interesting information. I was very surprised that the search actually provided me with results! I didn’t think a search from ESBCOhost would return anything when I put in Flickr, considering Flickr isn’t really an academic or learning-based website, but to my surprise, there were actually quite a few results, and many of them were really good. One was called The Internet Connection: Web 2.0, Flickr and Endless Possibilities. It described Web 2.0 and Flickr, and I don’t think I saw a site on Google or Ask that had really touched upon the Web 2.0 aspect of the site. Another site that caught my attention was called When Worlds Collide.
It was an interesting article about how personal and professional lives are now being linked through sites like Facebook, Myspace, and Flickr.

After searching these three search engines for information, I found that the use of specific keywords makes it a lot easier to sift through millions of search results. While just typing in Flickr to the search engine definetly does work, adding a more specific keyword after it, like "history" or "popularity", made the results much more specific and usable. I also came across a lot of sites that seemed like they had a lot of inaccurate information. Obviously, when using a search engine there are going to be many user-based sites with personal opinions, biased information, etc. Luckily, it’s usually easy to tell which sites do not contain credible information. Often times, it’s a blogging site, and if it is not, you can usually tell just by reading the first few sentences as to whether or not the information is reliable to believe and use.

Graham, Jefferson (2006). Flickr of idea on a gaming project led to photo website. Retrieved October 20, 2008, from USA Website:

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Summary for October 15, 2008

For today, I read an article by Michael Zimmer called “The Externalities of Search 2.0: The Emerging Privacy Threats When the Drive for the Perfect Search Engine Meets Web 2.0”. The article discusses Web 2.0 and the quest to find the perfect search engine, meaning a search engine that can return results based on what that particular user wants in a fast and efficient manner.

The author discusses two things that a search engine would need to have. Those things are "perfect reach" and "perfect recall". Perfect reach is basically explaining how the Internet is much more desirable to the user when everything is findable through a search engine. The ability to go to one website and have thousands of results (articles, pictures, music) come up makes the Internet a lot easier to navigate through. Perfect recall has to do with personalization for each individual user. In order for this to work, though, issues of privacy come into play. "The primary means for search engines to obtain perfect recall is to monitor and track user's search habits and history" (Zimmer, 3). Zimmer explains how in order for perfect recall to work, websites such as Yahoo! or Google must track IP addresses, use cookies, etc.- all things that question a person's right to privacy.

This was an interesting article because it was one that I can relate my own life to. I have been starting to notice that websites sometimes feature ads that might pertain to me more than others, and I was always wondering how that was done. While it is cool to have the only ads to appear as ones that offer products that are desirable to me, at the same time, it's a little creepy to know that someone out there is tracking my every move on the Internet. The Internet is no longer a place where you can put private information up without it being seen and examined by others. That is especially true with social websites such as Facebook and Myspace, in which people post numerous private photos, blogs, comments, etc., that they (and myself included) do not want others to look at, however, as stated in this article, there is a good chance someone out there has seen it or might come across it in the near future.