Wednesday, December 3, 2008

BitTorrent: Radical Decentralization

There are many forms of communication media that we all use in today’s world. From early forms of media, ranging from newspapers and magazines, to recent innovations of the twentieth century, such as televisions and cell phones, we have all used some types of these. But the most recent technological advancement in communication has been occurring via the computer, with the medium of Web 2.0. Web 2.0 is the term Tim O’ Reilly coined to explain the ever-changing technologies and trends that we as internet users go through in order to make our online experience more user-friendly. There are constantly developments being made to make communicating and sharing information quicker, and easier for the user. This platform is described as, “Web 2.0 doesn’t have a hard boundary, but rather, a gravitational core. You can visualize Web 2.0 as a set of principles and practices that tie together a veritable solar system of sites that demonstrate some or all of those principles, at a varying distance from that core.” (O’Reilly, para. 5) One specific technology that truly defines the user friendly concept of Web 2.0 is BitTorrent. The communication medium of BitTorrent is extremely complex, but at the same time, provides a great service for users looking to transfer data.

BitTorrent is a peer-to-peer file sharing protocol that is used to distribute large amounts of data amongst users over the Internet. The first protocol of the program was initially designed by Bram Cohen in April of 2001, but was actually released later that year for use by the public in July. Since then, “BitTorrent has become the global standard for delivering high-quality files over the Internet. With an installed base of over 160 million clients worldwide, BitTorrent technology has turned conventional distribution economics on its head.” It is also estimated the BitTorrent accounts to close to thirty-five percent of all traffic on the web at any given point in time. (Mack & Ratcliffe, p. 374)

One important concept that this program uses which has helped BitTorrent become the ‘global standard’ for file sharing is ‘internet decentralization’. Early downloading sources that were availible on Web 1.0, (such as worked with a main host at the center, and did not include everyone. This means that people trying to obtain and download files all went to the same host in the middle to find their files. This causes a problem because the site may become over-crowded, which will cause the download to be extremely slow. Also in most cases, central hosts were not powerful enough to handle all of the traffic that was occurring on their site which then resulted in frustrated users. So as a result of this, the concept and technology of ‘internet decentralization’ (O’Reilly, para. 30) was formed. Internet decentralization is used in peer-to-peer file transferring. This means that all the users of the program also act as a server for the files that they have on their computer. So the more popular the file is, the faster it can be found and downloaded because that many users are also acting as servers. (O’Reilly, para. 30)

There is a wide range of users of the BitTorrent program and many different reasons people choose to use the medium. Types of files that can be downloaded from the program include, pictures, music (individual tracks or complete albums), movies, individual television shows or entire series, and all different types of computer software. People use this program for many different reasons. One main reason that people use it is to obtain new software for their computers, or update an existing version of the software. Some people do not want to pay for these program updates for their computer so they decide to download it instead. People who choose to download music from the site most likely do not want to pay for tracks like they would have to if they used itunes or bought albums from the store. Instead they decide to simply download it. This provides a quicker and cheaper way to obtain the music in which they are looking for. This goes the same for movies. Instead of going to the theater to see a movie or purchasing a DVD from a store, they download it for free. Despite there being many websites that now stream movies to the user’s computer for free, a majority of these users do not like the advertisements that pop up, or the movie being segmented into smaller files. This results in them downloading the movie as a whole and they can now view it uninterrupted on their computer. (Orebaugh, Biles, Babbin, p. 108) Overall the users of this program enjoy a very convenient and cheap way to obtain all sorts of files that they may be looking for.

So now we arrive at the question, “How does BitTorrent work?” Many people imply that the user just opens up the program on their computer, searches for a file, and then magically it appears onto their computer. Well, although that may be true to a certain extent, it is actually quite a bit more difficult than that. As I already noted BitTorrent is the worldwide leader and global standard for file sharing over the internet. Obtaining such a prestigious rank does not occur over-night. This means that they have to be doing something different from those file-sharing programs of the past. According to Mack and Ratcliffe the process is complex. BitTorrent is a program that takes large files, and then breaks that file up into many small pieces. “BitTorrent downloads are not done sequentially, like regular FTP or HTTP downloads. Instead, BitTorrent clients download files in pieces, from as many different clients as possible. Clients then find out about the different locations they can download files from by checking with a BitTorrent tracker, which keeps track of everyone who is participating in the distribution of a particular file.” (Mack & Ratcliffe, p. 374)

Mack and Radcliffe have broken it down into an easy to follow seven-step procedure to help us understand the concept better. First, the user creates a “torrent” for the file which he chooses to distribute. (this ‘torrent’ is a small file that contains the information people need to know about the file to download it). Once this file has been created, it then gets registered on the web as what we know as a ‘tracker.’ (trackers help identify all those who are helping distribute a particular file) The third step is ‘seeding’ the file. (in easier terms, getting the original copy of the file into distribution on BitTorrent, done by a click of the mouse!) After that is complete, the other users from the public become involved. The fourth step involves an audience member clicking on the torrent link that was created for the file. The BitTorrent client searches the tracker to see all the users that are participating in the distribution of a certain file. When all of this is complete, it beings to download the file from the original seed. (For this example, the seed is from your own computer!) The fifth step begins to describe the evolution of BitTorrent and how this program grows so rapidly. (especially for popular files) When the next person searches a file and checks the tracker for w ho is distributing this file, the tracker now finds two machines participating in the distribution. (you, and that audience member spoken about earlier) So now the program is getting pieces of the file from both clients. (your getting it now, aren’t you?) “As more clients joint the torrent, the distribution becomes more and more distributed, allowing clients to download the file from many different clients. Files that are very popular have many people participating in the torrent, so the distribution scales accordingly” (Mack & Ratcliffe, p.375) The final step has to do with proper torrent ‘etiquette’. Once you have received a file it’s polite to keep your program up for a while to help distribute your file to other machines. (procedure from: Mack & Ratcliffe, p. 374-375)

Although everything seems perfect about this technology to the naked eye, there are quite a few problems that arise from BitTorrent. The first one takes place in the socio-economic world. Many music artists and television networks have taken up legal issues with torrent programs. They are doing so because with the technology of BitTorrent, the movie and music industries have seen a decrease in sales because people are obtaining the material they want for free, via BitTorrent. As a result of this, networks such as HBO, have began to ‘poison’ torrents of their show ‘Rome’ so that users will not be able to obtain the episodes, and hopefully purchase them instead.

One problem that causes users of BitTorrent concern is the lack of anonymity. One can find out anyone else’s IP address if they have ever sent or received a file from them. This may cause and invasion of privacy and leave their systems open to attacks. Another problem which may cause the user frustration is if they do not have a high speed connection. Like anything else on the Internet, BitTorrent works much better with a high speed connection. Using a dial-up connection may cause many disconnections and extremely slower download rates during the procedure.

Another problem that arises with the BitTorrent program is the issue of cooperation and the ‘free-rider’. (Kollock and Smith, p. 110) Once users of BitTorrent download files that they want, they have very little want or reason to become a ‘seed’ and give back to the online community. Kollock and Smith described this problem as people taking what they want from the internet, and not giving back to the community. (this is known as the ‘leech’ problem on BitTorrent) This is true in the world of torrents as well. In order to try to decrease the amount of people that may be free-riding BitTorrent have tried to set up a ratio for user’s sent and received files. Asides from trying to proportion a user’s downloads, BitTorrent has added a ‘leech resistance’ feature which encourages users to participate in both ways of the medium. (Both send and receive) (Fitzek & Reichert, p. 315)

After researching this Web 2.0 technology and communication medium I agree with O’Reilly’s statement of, “every BitTorrent consumer brings his own resources to the party. There’s an implicit “architecture of participation”, a built in ethic of cooperation in which service acts primarily as an intelligent broker, connecting the edges to each other and harnessing the power of the users themselves.” (O’Reilly, para. 31) This quote sums up the experience of BitTorrent, and if users follow this guideline, everyone will have a good experience using this technology.

Fitzek, Frank & Reichert, Frank. (2007). Mobile Phone Programming and Its Application to Wireless Networking. p.315: Springer

Kollock, Peter & Smith, Marc. (1996). Managing the virtual commons: Cooperation and conflict in computer communities. In Susan C. Herring (Ed.), Computer-mediated communication: Linguinstic, social and cross-cultural perspectives (pp. 109-128). Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Mack, Steve & Ratcliffe, Mitch. (2007). Podcasting Bible. p. 374-375.: John Wiley and Sons

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

Orebaugh, Angela.. Biles, Simon. & Babbin Jacob. (2005). Snort Cookbook. 3.9 Detecting P2P.: O’Reilly.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


For the past few weeks I have been observing the Web 2.0 technology of BitTorrent. BitTorrent is a peer-to-peer file sharing program which allows users to download files at a high speed. This is due to Internet Decentralization and users acting as hosts. Although the way in which the program functions may seem difficult to the user, it does not take away from the fact of how important this medium is. It provides a very easy and quick way for users of the program to obtain the files that they are looking for. I will soon post a research essay in which I examined the program deeper to educate my classmates of the technology.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Internet as a Medium

The Internet is quite different from any other form of communication media. Types of communication media are usually defined by the number of people who participate in either sending or receiving a message through the specific medium. (Adams & Clark, p.28) The most basic form of communication occurs when two people are sending and receiving messages to each other, either face to face or through a medium. Other forms of communication can also include messages being sent to reach small groups, and larger groups through what we know as mass media. The internet of today is different from all these previous forms of communication media because there are many different ways for people to communicate and interact through the communication medium called the internet. (Adams & Clark, p. 28) The internet holds many defining characteristics that make this medium work so well.

The first characteristic which clearly defines the internet as superior to other communication media is the fact that it is a dual-medium. The term ‘dual medium’ means that is can function as a ‘macromedium’ as well as a ‘metamedium’. (Adams & Clark, p. 29) When Adams and Clark defined it as a ‘macromedium’ they meant that it knows no boundaries, and reach any internet user worldwide. On the other hand, it can also be known as a ‘metamedium’ because is serves as a ‘platform for older’ and other types of media as well. (Adams & Clark, p. 29). This is also the key component that distinguishes the internet medium from the television medium. The television sends out messages to an audience and they receive it. They do not have the option of responding to what they receive. While on the other hand, users of the internet medium have the option to send and receive messages. (Adams & Clark, p. 29)

Another defining characteristic of the internet is that it is ‘multimediated’. (Adams & Clark, p. 35) It can display a wide range of media, such as different graphics, words, pictures and videos all on the same page or in a message. It can do this because of convergence. Adams and Clark define ‘convergence’ (p. 35) as the integration of once separate technologies together. An example of this on the web would be a photo gallery that someone has uploaded along with text describing the pictures. This demonstrates convergence and two separate technologies are being used together to create a more powerful outcome.

Another characteristic that defines the internet is that of ‘hypertext.’ Adams and Clark describe hypertext to be the ability to link any type of content to any other type of content. (p. 37) An example of this would be when you are on a webpage and say that there is a picture of Derek Jeter hitting a home run. The hypertext comes into play when you click the picture and then that brings you to the video of Derek Jeter actually hitting the home run. This characteristic of the internet is key to how the internet is easy to use and navigate because of the simple luxuries like this and in fact is the characteristic that the world wide web is based on. (Adams & Clark, P. 37)

Another characteristic of the internet that separates it from other forms of media is that it is ‘interactive’. On the internet we get to choose ‘our own path’. (Adams & Clark, p.59) We have control of what we access, view, read, and post. This is quite the difference from sitting in front of a television and receiving what is given to us or opening up a newspaper and only getting the news they want us to see. With the internet you access what you want when you want it. You can be reading about the Yankees at one moment, and then receiving e-mails from professors the next. This is unique and important to the ‘surfer’s’ experience with this medium. (Adams & Clark, p. 59)

A fifth characteristic that defines the internet from all previous communication media is that of it being both synchronous and asynchronous at the same time. This means that we can read something immediately as it is happening, or we can save it to read or respond to at a later time. (Adams & Clark, p. 40) This furthers the freedom and reinforces the advantages of using the internet to communicate.

These characteristics plus many more is what makes the internet a more reliable, and user-friendly type of communication media than ever before.

From: Adams & Clark. C.2. What Is It? Characteristics of the Medium

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Key to a Small World

In Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations, by Clay Shirky, the author explains how large social networks exist. The term large social network if often taken for granted because people do not fully understand how they function. They are a part of many but do not know the theory behind it. This is why Shirky explains in his article how these social networking patterns are formed and maintained.

In 1998, Watts and Strogatz released research they conducted, titled, “Small World Network”. (Shirky, 215) This was published with the intent to inform readers how exactly these social networks are created and maintained. They broke down their theory into having two main parts. The first part being that “small groups are densely connected.” (Shirky, 215) This basically means that in a small group of about five friends, everybody knows everybody. They all speak regularly, and know personal facts about one another. If one person leaves the group, it is not phased because all the people are still densely connected and do not rely on anyone to communicate with another person. The second part of Watts and Strogatz’s theory is that ‘large groups are sparsely connected.’ (Shirky 215.) This means that as your group gets larger, it is more likely that people who are in the group will not know everyone in the group. (unlike the first part of their theory) Because of this, one must combine both parts of their theories in order to have a successful social network. For example, “Instead of one loose group of twenty-five, you have five tight groups of five. The network will be sparse but efficient and robust.” (Shirky, 216)

After reading about how social networks function I realized that the social network that I am a part of works exactly the same. I have a group of friends from my hometown in Staten Island. We are all very close, and have been friends since the grammar school days. I also have a close group of friends that I made in college from the Albany area. Even though everyone that I am speaking about from the two different groups are facebook friends, dosen’t necessarily mean that they are to be considered ‘densely connected.’ Instead they are two separate smaller groups that are connected through me, because I am part of both groups. This is a prime example of the research Watts and Strogatz presented backing the theory of the “Small World Network”.

Shirky, Clay. (2008). Here comes everybody: The power of organizing without organizations (chapter 9). New York. Penguin.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Observing the Blogosphere

For my fourth essay, my assignment was to explore the blogoshere. “The blogosphere is a collective term encompassing all blogs and their interconnections. It is the perception that blogs exist together as a connected community, or as a social network.”

After looking around this ‘blogosphere’ for a while I chose the blog called This is an unofficial Manchester United Team blog created by loyal Manchester United fans. It is a highly active blog which generates hundreds of responses to each article written by the main contributor who’s user handle is ‘red ranter’. This blog allows fans of the team to come together and interact from all over the world. Fans typically go on rants reacting to the articles posted, voice team frustrations, predict lineups, and almost anything else you can possibly think of. I chose this section of the online community because like everyone else belonging to this blog, I too, am an avid Manchester United supporter. I observed the interactions on this blog for over a week and also posted a few comments as well. (User name: cr7boywonder) After reading every article and user post for over a week, I saw one main theme that Aaron Barlow discusses in his book, Blogging America, occurring over and over again. The theme that Barlow spoke about that was constantly jumping out at me was the new ‘horizontal’ structure of journalism. (Barlow, 2008)

Blogs have a ‘horizontal structure’ because it is democratic and anyone who chooses to participate in the conversation can actively do so. (Barlow, 2008) Traditional journalism, which tends to follow a ‘vertical structure’ is far different from that of blogs. This type of structure tends to have a hierarchy where only trained journalists or elite write about a specific topic. (Barlow, 2008) There are gatekeepers who regulate what types and forms of information are put out to the public. This is where blogs differ from this vertical structure. Anyone can post to a blog, without being a trained journalist. These people who decide to openly post or write about a topic who are not professional journalists can be called a ‘citizen journalist’. (Barlow, 2008) There are no ‘gatekeepers’ to regulate or say what information can be posted for internet users to instantly access and read.(Barlow, 2008)

This theme is represented many times through interactions and posts that I read while I was observing and participating on the redrants blog. The first way this ‘horizontal structure’ was demonstrated on the blog was by the pre-match lineup predictions. Before every game, hundreds on users log on to this blog and guess which lineup the Manchester United manager will send out to the pitch. There are all different views and opinions of the lineups and tactics that will be used by hundreds of fans. This interaction and conversation shows that blogs are democratic, and anyone who chooses to participate in a conversation can do so without being part of the upper end of the hierarchy. (referring to the vertical structure) (Barlow, 2008) A second way that I learned this new ‘horizontal structure’ was in effect for blogs was through my own post. Early Tuesday, November 11th, Owen Hargreaves, an important midfield player for the United club was ruled out for the rest of the season due to injury. Once I found out about this I immediately post to the blog, “hargreaves is out for the rest of the season. he played a vital role down the stretch last year to help united with the double, with scholes out and nani struggling in the midfield fergie better get something together before we fall too far behind.” This post stirred up a small conversation as frustrated fans then preceded to voice their frustrations and ongoing worries about the team. Now, I have never taken a journalism class in my life and was not trying to be professional, yet I was still allowed to post this comment. This shows that there are no gatekeepers in the structure to regulate who or what type of information is put up on the site. (Barlow, 2008) It also furthers the point that anyone can take part in the new form of ‘horizontal’ journalism and write whatever they choose to a blog.

After observing and actively participating on a blog for over a week, I now truly understand what this new type of ‘horizontal’ journalism is. It is truly democratic, as it allows anyone, professional or unprofessional, to write whatever they want without any regulation. It also shows that journalism does not have to follow a ‘vertical structure’ in order to be successful and that this new form of ‘horizontal’ journalism may catch on quicker than we think. (Barlow, 2008)

Barlow, Aaron. (2008). Blogging America. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Observation #5

My final observation day was Tuesday, November 11th. Red Ranter’s article was quite brief and just stated that all rants, frustrations, conversation and thoughts should go below his post. He seemed very irritated, like many other Manchester fans with the current form of the team, and just left a window open for the fans to converse a bout current topics. I put up a number of posts today in response to team news that happened over the night and early this morning. The first comment I made was about Sir Alex Ferguson’s (manager of Manchester) outburst at the English Premiership. He was upset because of his team having all away games on the schedule after their Champions League matches which take place midweek. (my handle is cr7boywonder) No one responded to this message and could have been due to when I put up the comment. I put it up during lineup predictions and it seemed that no one wanted to be bothered with this topic. A few hours later in the day, it was announced over in England that star midfielder Owen Hargreaves was out for the remainder of the season. As soon as I read this I posted the news on the blog, it generated a few responses. Fans again were upset, as this news added more fuel to the fire. The team is in great danger of finishing trophy-less as their problems continue to build up and no one was afraid to tell their peers how they felt. Fans ended the responses from today’s blog just hoping that the team can get their act together, and quick enough to salvage the season.

Observation #4

My fourth day of observation on redrants came on Saturday, November 8th. Today is the day of the big league clash against Arsenal which was spoken about in many earlier blogs on the site. The third and fourth place teams play each other for positioning as well as bragging rights. I woke up at 7 this morning to watch this game live from England on the computer, because it wasn’t televised in the States. I read the blog before the game and redranter posted and interesting dialogue he had with an Arsenal insider. The insider explained to red ranter that Arsenal’s coach Arsen Wenger, is frustrated with injuries to his team and feels that the league has it out to hurt his players. This did not go to well with the people who blog on this site because this is a Manchester fan page and their team has their own share of injury problems. They have 4 out of the usual 11 starters out with injury so they are in the same boat as Arsenal and were not afraid to voice their opinion. After the game was over, and Manchester suffered a disappointing 2-1 defeat at the hands of Arsenal fans were irate. They bashed the players and coaching and suggested many different ways to try to improve the situation. Even though they were bashing and irate, you could tell that the people involved in the conversation are still extremely loyal to the club and just getting their frustrations out to their peers.

Observation #3

My third day of observation came on Wednesday, November 5th. Red Ranter previewed the big Champions league game today between Manchester United and Celtic FC. The Champions league is a continental battle between the best teams in Europe to crown one true champion in May. Manchester United won this prestigious trophy last season, which is why their fans are extremely concerned with the slow start to this season. Bloggers gave their predictions for the Manchester starting lineups and tactics that the coach would use. Some fans disagreed with other’s defensive lineups because they felt that with certain players in goals could not be scored to seal a victory. While observing this blog later on that day during the evening hours I found something to be quite astonishing. From 2:45 – 4:15pm, which is the time that the game took place, there were over 250 comments. The fans were conversing about what was going on during the game! This blog serves as a platform for fans to communicate instantly during the game. Fans could voice their frustrations along with their brief spells of happiness and speak about what was happening with everyone else. I never thought of using a blog this way, but it looks to be extremely successful.

Observation #2

My second day of observation happened on Monday, November 3rd. Red ranter discusses the situation with United’s best player, Cristiano Ronaldo, and also about the scary but realistic truth about what is going on with Manchester’s poor start to the season. The first half of the comments towards the blog seemed to be written in a very optimistic tone. This is due mainly to Ronaldo committing himself to the club through next season. This was a huge issue over the summer months because the Spanish giants of Real Madrid were trying to lure Ronaldo to their club. Although he was tempted in the end he wound up staying, and this morning he committed himself fully to the club and looks to be getting back on track after he netted two goals against Hull City over the weekend. A few hours after the blog was put up and people discussed Ronaldo, many of the fans began to voice their worries about their team. They admitted that the club does not look like they did last year at this time and that they are suffering from player injuries and also sub-par performances. Things seem to be pretty glum right about now.

Observation #1

The blog that I chose to observe for my fourth essay is This is an unofficial Manchester United Team blog created by loyal Manchester United fans. It is a highly active blog which generates hundreds of responses to each article written by the main contributor who’s user handle is ‘red ranter’. My first day of observation for the blog took place on Sunday, November 2nd. Red ranter wrote about Saturday’s league game against Hull City, which resulted in a 4-3 victory for United. Although United got the victory and the full three points they needed desperately there was still a negative tone to the responses written by the users of the blog. Giving up three goals at home to a mediocre team has gotten fans worried about the Manchester United defense and midfield. They played well for the first 60 minutes, and then down the stretch during the last 30 they let in 2 weak goals. I saw the game myself and agree with the comments from the users. The users spoke back and forth giving suggestions on ways the manger can improve the situation. By reading what everyone else had to say I saw many different aspects of how to resolve the problem from the broad range of fans.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Freedom vs. Commercial

In Blogging America, by Aaron Barlow, the author discusses the role that blogs play in today’s popular culture. He presents the differences of blogging for writers at the individual and commercial levels and how blogging for one end differs completely from the other.

First the author speaks about how important it is for an individual to have the freedom to write and the ability to blog. This allows the author to publish what they want in their blog on internet. The advantage that blogging has over traditional writing in a magazine or newspaper is that allows instant feedback on the author’s work. This allows the author to hear opinions from readers that may agree or disagree with what they have written. Receiving feedback from people who have read article will improve the author’s writing skills, and ultimately make the author’s writing skills stronger. Barlow sites Rosenberg when he speaks about these, ‘seeds of freedom’ and how important it is for us to have these freedoms in today’s society. (p. 114) Blogs can be described as, “this participatory platform allowing people to bypass cultural gatekeepers of all sorts, helping loosen control of content of communication pathways that has for so long rested in the hands of commercial entities.” (Barlow, 2008) This tells us that individual blogs enable writers to exercise their freedom without having to deal with any limitations or gatekeepers that control what is published.

When an author writes at the corporate level, or for a company many can argue that the author’s own words or feelings are not being used. The author’s views or topics written about can be controlled by the gatekeeper of the company. The gatekeeper’s objective is to publish stories and articles that will sell to the media and keep readers coming back for more. When this is the goal, author’s topics and opinions are controlled by this gatekeeper and they are then not able to voice their true feelings because they are catering to what others want to hear.

After reading this chapter I now understand the differences between blogging for yourself with an open mind and no limitations, versus blogging at the commercial level. Blogging for a company means having to deal with gatekeepers that control what is written to satisfy the audience, and to sell your product. For an author to decide which level to write at they must ask themselves what is more important, “Writing to voice their own opinions and feelings, or selling a product?”

Barlow, Aaron. (2008). Blogging America. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Debate

In Blogging America, by Aaron Barlow, the author discusses the functions and complications of blogs in society. We learn that blogs are a new form of communication media on the Internet. People can now become authors to voice their opinion or display information that they want to share with the world in just a matter of minutes. Blogs can differ from posting personal information about ones life to any topic in society ranging from politics to pets, and anything in between. With this endless range of topics come a broad variety of authors. With all the complexities that exist within the internet, many bloggers ask themselves the question, “Should I reveal my identity on my blog?”. This chapter weighs out reasons for releasing or not releasing your identity on your blog.

Aaron Barlow discusses reasons not to reveal your identity that he extracted from Chris Harris’s article in the School Library Journal. Harris’s first reason is that giving your opinion on a topic may not always be the right choice. Sometimes writers do not think before they speak and this can cause a problem between two parties. A second reason is that sometimes stories that are told should not be said at all. This theory comes into play because releasing information about people or a topic may cause someone to get in trouble or put them in potential danger. Aside from these reasons, there are many others. Another reason not to reveal your identity would be to avoid threats. There have been many cases of people receiving death threats or other forms of harmful statements towards themselves because of information or topics posted on blogs. An easy way to avoid all of these potential happenings would be to conceal your identity.

But even after hearing all of these reasons to keep your identity private, there is still a main reason that people wish to display their identities. Barlow states (2008), “The freedom that facelessness provides (and one’s online manifestation can be faceless, if one so desires) can bring down the entire structure.” (p.40) This tells us that, we are in fact free to be anonymous on the internet if we want to be, but at the same time it can damage the whole foundation and meaning of the blogosphere. By authors revealing who they are on their blogs, makes the ‘structure’ of the ‘online community’ more realistic because actual people are talking about their own personal lives and the reader can now get a sense of who they are. (Barlow, 2008)

After reading about reasons to reveal your identity or to keep that information private in this chapter I feel that it is crucial to the online community to use your real name on your blog. I agree with Barlow’s argument that it adds depth and structure to this growing form of media. It is important because it allows the reader to connect to the author and gain a sense of personal insight to the author’s thoughts and arguments.

Barlow, Aaron. (2008). Blogging America. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers.

Monday, October 27, 2008

A Problem in the Commons

According to Managing the Virtual Commons: Cooperation and Conflict in Computer Communities, by Peter Kollock and Marc Smith, newer forms of communication media, such as the internet, are leading to a greater amount of personal interaction via the computer. This form of communication levels the playing field, as social structures from the past are eliminated. These social structures are now obsolete because with this type of media everyone can participate in conversation and discussion and no longer makes it limited to the higher end of the social pyramid. Although this description sounds great, there is still a big problem communicating by this form, and that problem is free-riding.

One area on the internet where this problem of ‘free-riding’ exists is the Usenet. The Usenet consists of thousands of discussion groups ranging from any topic that you can think of. There is no central host that manages or organizes the Usenet, but is rather based on the users participation. After hearing about how the Usenet works, one question that is brought to mind is, “How can all of the users on the Usenet exist, with the ‘free-rider’ topic at hand?” Kollock and Smith discuss that, “Whenever one person cannot be excluded from the benefits that others provide, each person is motivated not to contribute to the joint effort, but to free-ride on the efforts of others. If all of the participants choose to free-ride, the collective benefit will not be produced.” (from Ostrom, 1990) This quote is explaining what the actual concern of free-riding on the internet is. Free-riding means that users that do not contribute to the discussion are taking information from other users and are not contributing any of their own. If this happens Usenet groups and other newsgroups will not reach the ultimate success that they could reach if everyone contributed.

After reading and discussing this article I feel that Kollock and Smith bring up a major point that I agree with. The problem with free-riding is extremely crucial to the success of a Usenet group. I have first hand experience with this and understand what they are speaking about. I am part of a sports blogging site, and many of us post useful information about baseball and football stats. But there are many more users of the site than those of us who actually post. Others are coming on to our site, and ‘free-riding’ off of our information and not contributing any of their own. In order for the site to reach maximum success everyone should post their own relevant information towards the topic.

Kollock, Peter & Smith, Marc. (1996). Managing the virtual commons: Cooperation and conflict in computer communities. In Susan C. Herring (Ed.), Computer-mediated communication: Linguinstic, social and cross-cultural perspectives (pp. 109-128). Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Conducting Research

The Web 2.0 communication medium that I have chosen to research for my final essay is the platform of BitTorrent. From the article that we read in class, I learned that, “BitTorrent, like other pioneers in the P2P movement, takes a radical approach to internet decentralization. Every client is also a server; files are broken up into fragments that can be served from multiple locations, transparently harnessing the network of downloaders to provide both bandwidth and data to other users.” (O’Reilly, 2005) Aside from this article, I have located and researched nine other sources regarding the platform of BitTorrent, finding results to be both credible and non-credible.

The first database that I used to search for sources was EBSCO through the University at Albany Library. Before I conducted my research, I explored the EBSCO webpage and found out that it had many complex search techniques. There were many different options of where in the article to search for the phrase typed in. When I began to search I typed in the keyword, “BitTorrent” and it returned to me over a few hundred scholarly articles that it had found in its’ database. When I saw these results I began to the look over the articles to see which ones could be relevant for my project. After looking over the first few pages of results I found two scholarly and credible journal articles that I could use for my final project. They both discussed the P2P movement over the internet and how this way of sharing files actually works. The articles also discuss possible ways to try to prevent free-riding as well. (Park & van der Schaar, 2008) & (Li & Yu, 2008)

After I found those two articles I decided to stick with EBSCO because it returned good results. I changed my keyword search to, “p2p file sharing” and once again plenty of articles came up. The one that I selected spoke about the decentralization process and node clustering schemes. This source was also from a scholarly print journal and was credible as well. (Ramawamy & Gedik, 2005) My last source I found through EBSCO was conducted with the keyword search of, “BitTorrent works”. One result came back to me, but when I located the article and read it I found it to be extremely resourceful. It was from PC Magazine, and explained how all torrent programs functioned and discussed how they manage to stay legal. (Norton & Freedmart, 2006)

The next database I decided to use was LexisNexis. This also is a database within the University at Albany Library. The keyword search phrase I used was, “BitTorrent file sharing.” Although the results were not as broad as I thought they would be I did find one useful source for my paper. It came from a popular newspaper in London and spoke again about what makes torrent programs function and also how people are beginning to make false torrent sites to try to harm computers and piracy. (Bradbury, 2007)

My third search engine that I used was google. When I typed in the searched, “BiTtorrent” thousands of results came up, however the first five pages of results that I looked over did not seem to help me out. All of these results were actually sites for torrent sharing programs and information on the internet decentralization process itself. After this I modified my keyword search to, “how BitTorrent works” and sure enough better results came back. A great article came up on the torrent process and included in the article were many diagrams giving me an animated view of what actually occurs during this type of file sharing. After I stayed within google, but changed the keywords to, “torrent p2p software”. Again another scholarly and credible article came up on the description of the software as well as research conducted about the software that is used.

The final search engine that I used was yahoo. I typed in the keyword search, “using BitTorrent” and thousands of sites came back in the results. Here was where I found results that would not be useful towards my final project. The first article I came across had non-credible written all over it. When I went to the page I could not find an author, a date of publication, and there were more advertisements on the page than information that I was looking for. My last source that I found was also a non-credible or resourceful site. It was written by a person who called himself, ‘Ernesto’. The site also had many advertisements and did not include a works cited section to credit where he obtained the information he used to write the article.

After conducting this research on BitTorrent using different search engines and databases I have learned that there is a very wide range in the level of credibility amongst articles about the same topic. I found that using the databases through the University Library game me mostly in depth and scholarly results about what I was looking for. While Google and Yahoo gave me both credible and non-credible results for the research I was conducting.

Works Cited:

Bradbury, D. (2007, April 12) Technology: Can Stuck Torrents Beat Pirates?. The Guardian. pp.1.

Li, M. & Yu, J. (2008). Free-Riding on BitTorrent-Like Peer-to-Peer File Sharing Systems: Modeling Analysis and Improvement. IEEE Transactions on Parallel & Distributed Systems. 19(7), 954-966.

Norton, P. & Freedmart, A. (2006, February). Torrents. PC Magazine. 25(2), 112-116.

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

Park, H. & van der Schaar, M. (2008). Coalition-Based Resource Reciprocation Strategies for P2P Multimedia Broadcasting. IEEE Transactions on Broadcasting, 54(3), 557-567.

Ramaswamy, L. & Gedik, B. (2005). A Distributed Approach to Node Clustering in Decentralized Peer-to-Peer Networks. . IEEE Transactions on Parallel & Distributed Systems. 16(9), 814-829.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Perfect Engine Vs. Personal Privacy

For today’s class, I was assigned to read “The Externalities of Search 2.0: The Emerging Privacy Threats when the Drive for the Perfect Search Engine meets Web 2.0” by Michael Zimmer. In his article he discusses the endless quest for the perfect search engine and how key components of Web 2.0 are contributing to this experiment. However, once you look deeper than the surface, one may realize that in order to receive this ‘perfect search engine’ you must give up your privacy on the World Wild Web.

In order to discover the perfect search engine there are two key components that are needed. As Zimmer states, “To attain such an omnipresent and omniscient ideal, search engines must have both “perfect reach” in order to provide access to all available information on the Web and “perfect recall” in order to deliver personalized and relevant results that are informed by who the searcher is.” (p.2) ‘Perfect reach’ gives web users the options to whatever they want on the web as they please by being able to access anything that is needed. ‘Perfect recall’ then “understands the searchers wants” and automatically understands what the searcher is looking for based on prior web encounters. (Zimmer, p.3) An example of this would be typing in a search of the word, ‘Mitsubishi’ and the computer knowing to return results of the less popular television set rather than the automobile made by the same company.

For these technologies to work properly, one’s web activity must be closely monitored in order to know what results to display. This is where the problem comes into play. By tracking a users activities on the internet they lose their personal privacy. They lose their privacy by having records created of what sites they visited, items that are being bought and even e-mails that are being read or written. With this vast technology of ‘perfect recall’ a user’s entire web history is netted into these technologies and the once private lives of web users now may be exploited at any time and are permanently kept on record.

After reading this article I now understand the key issues and concerns that are brought up regards to creating the perfect search engine. I feel that in order to accomplish this notion of the perfect search engine the user has to ask the question, “Is it worth giving up my privacy?” In response to this I feel that technology is only increasing, so there is nowhere else to turn besides taking part in this revolution of the perfect search engine.

Zimmer, Michael. (2008). The externalities of search 2.0: The emerging privacy threats when the drive for the perfect search engine meets web 2.0. First Monday, 13. Retrieved August 21, 2008 from

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Essay 2

For my second essay I chose to observe the New York Jets Usenet group at There are over 350 active members that belong to this group and the message traffic if considered to be highly active with over fifteen-hundred posts per month. Usenet is defined as, “The Usenet is similar in many ways to conferencing systems, often referred to as a Bulletin Board System (BBS), and compared to e-mail distribution lists. It shares many qualities with these forms of computer mediated communication, but differs in many significant ways.” (Kollock & Smith, p.111) The Usenet is slightly different from these other forms of communication media by, “No central authority manages the Usenet. It is distributed in the that there is no central repository for the postings, and that each contribution is passed throughout the system of interconnected hosts.” (Kollock & Smith, p.111) After observing this Usenet group for several days I noticed that it contained many interesting characteristics that corresponded to topics discussed in class.

In this Usenet group there were many different discussions taking place regarding the New York Jets with various topics ranging from Jet’s players, coaches, draft pick opinions, strategies and game analysis. Most of the interactions that I observed were taken quite seriously by the users. The people participating in the conversation did not stray far from the topic being discussed at all. They would exchange messages back and forth and state their views of certain topics, sometimes listing statistics or factual statements, or even criticizing each other’s viewpoints. Most of the users also seemed to be very enthused male Jets fans. I didn’t notice any outsiders opposing the Jets trying to cause an argument, just deep focused conversation amongst Jets supporters. One example of this occurred on September 23rd, regarding a thread named, “New Coach, New Stadium.” A majority of this series of messages took place between users ‘Vinnie S.’ and ‘Harlan Lachman.’ Next year the Jets move into a brand new stadium, and many of the fans feel that when they start their new era, they should start with a new ‘experienced head coach.’ Vinnie. S. states, “I have seen enough from these aspiring head coached who used to be assistants. If you want to be a first class organization, then hire a first class coach. Throw a ton of money at Bill Cowher or Jimmy Johnson. I have seen enough of these assistants like Coslet, Carroll, Groh, Mangini, etc. We haven't been able to cover a slant or slot receiver in over 10 years. This is disgusting.” (Vinnie. S. from website) This statement is made by an avid Jets fan who is aggravated with the current coaching situation. Other users who responded to this message are agreeing with him, and feel that they should try to hire an experienced coach, but at the same time, one user who seems to be very knowledgable calls him out on the level of factuality in his statement. Harlan says, “Vinnie, are you saying that the great HC were never assistants? Bill Parcells, lil Bill, Cowher, and Johnson were never assistants? This was a stupid post.” (Harlan Lachman, from website) Harlan is agreeing with Vinnie. S. that a new coach is needed, but is also letting him know that his statement is not completely true because great coaches of the NFL have indeed started out as assistants, just like current Jet coach Eric Mangini.

Even though the Usenet is very convenient and a great way for participants to discuss many different topics, problems start to occur when a group’s capacity and usage is as large as this one. The first problem I noticed was that of ‘free-riding.’ Free- riding is described as, “Free-ride on others’ efforts, using and abusing the conversation without contributing to its maintenance.” (Kollock & Smith, p.115) With over 350 members in this group it is safe to say that many instances of free-riding occur. After observing this for many days I’ve noticed the same 15-20 user names contributing information and facts to the topics being discussed. An example of this took place on a September 21st, thread titled, ‘Jets are having punting issues.’ User ‘graybeard’ makes a post listing career stats for the recently released Jets punter, and the newly acquired Jets punter. After reading these facts the users know that the punter they released is in fact better than the new punter. (or on paper at least) People read this post and agree with him, and keep asking the question, “Why?” Hours later ‘graybeard’ responds with another post. This time his post is a direct quote from Eric Mangini stating why he chose to pick the punter up over recently released punter Ben Graham. (conversation can be found at, This interaction shows people free-riding off of graybeard’s information and not putting any effort on contributing back to the factually content within the group. The second problem that occurs when a group is so large is that of abusing bandwidth. The definition is bandwidth is, “the volume of information per unit time that a computer, person, or transmission medium can handle. (Kollock & Smith, from Raymond 1993) So after learning what bandwidth means now we know that the problem can arise from, “When people don’t refrain from posting unnecessary information: such as, posting extremely long articles, reproducing long sections of a text rather than summarizing, and including long signatures.” (Kollock & Smith, p.115) After I observed this group I noticed many instances of people abusing bandwidth. Anything ranging from people re-posting the same message, and many times including a long signature at the bottom of a message they have written.

By observing a Usenet group for several days, and having a hands on experience with this form of communication medium, I feel that I now the many types of interactions that occur within a group. I also learned what kind of problems can occur when people abuse bandwidth restrictions and also when members of a group do not contribute to the informational content that can be found on the message board.

Works Cited:

Kollock, Peter & Smith, Marc. (1996). Managing the virtual commons: Cooperation and conflict in computer communities. In Susan C. Herring (Ed.), Computer-mediated communication: Linguistic, social and cross-cultural perspectives (pp. 109-128). Philadelphia: John Benjamins

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Blog #5

My fifth and final day of observation was Tuesday, September 23rd. After skimming some of the messages that people have posted today I could tell right away that many of the Jet’s fans have become very aggravated with the way that the season has been going so far. When they acquired Brett Farve they had big dreams and goals, but after a 1-2 start, reality has set in that it will not be an easy season and the fans have become upset. From very optimistic talk a few days ago, to condemning recent play calls and strategies by the coaches. User, ‘Johnny Morongo’ posts, “We are not ready for primetime, I am going to follow the Buffalo Bills with my brother.” This shows that he has just about given up, and also means that he is not a loyal fan. Some users actually see this optimistically and are collectively happy that they do not have to hear him anymore. Another topic comes up that when they open the new stadium next year, they feel that they should have a new coach, and not an assistant, which is what they call their current coach Eric Mangini. Overall, at this point of the season, most of the fans are fed up with the Jet’s already and are looking forward to next season.

Blog #4

My fourth observation took place on September 22nd. I waited until later on in the day to observe because it just to happened that the Jets had the Monday Night Football game against the Chargers in San Diego. About halfway through the game I noticed a handful of posts start to come up. This was mainly because it was about the point in the game when the Jets had fallen significantly behind San Diego on the scoreboard and the fans became upset and probably wanted to voice their opinions. One user, called ‘J-E-T-S jets jets jets’ when on in a rant complaining about how Farve and his receivers were not on the same page, which led to bad interceptions. He also spoke about how he thought the coaching staff was making bad play calls and that with that type of mindset for the offense the season was going to go nowhere. He also received many responses along the same lines. Just disheartened fans posting during the game because they were more upset than mad. You could tell by their user names that they were indeed Jets fans sharing a common frustration.

Blog #3

September 21st was my third day of observation. Towards the end of last week the Jet’s were having problems with their special teams, specifically the punter. They dropped their punter from their roster that they have had for the past few seasons, and picked up a new player to fill that position. Now, the only problem with that was, that the new punter, Hodges, had not played a game since the 2005 season. User, ‘greybeard’ was well aware of this and started this topic of conversation on the forum. He listed Graham’s career stats, (the player who was dropped) and the newly acquired Hodges. With doing this he caused confrontation because the player that they had released still had better numbers than the new player. He got many reply threads to his original post agreeing with him, and also many users asking, ‘why?’ Greybeard seems extremely efficient, and not only brought the topic to light but answered the question as well. He posted another comment a few hours later, quoting coach Eric Mangini from a team press conference. He quoted him saying that, “Not only is Hodges a punter, but he also gives us other options at the spot kicker position.” (From, NY Daily News) There was also a lot of hype surrounding the big Monday night football game against the Chargers that takes place tomorrow night in San Diego.

Blog #2

On Saturday, September 20th, there were many interesting posts going on within the Jets forum. The main topic that caught my eye and had many responses to it was a post by the user, ‘grinch.’ He posted a very long factual thread, that many Jets fans did not like the content of. His post was mainly about the hard truths and realities towards the Jet’s season so far. When the season started many Jet’s fans had dreams of reaching the playoffs and even the Superbowl with new star quarterback Brett Farve. The ‘grinch’ even admits he fell for the hype, but has since realized that the Jet’s do indeed have many flaws. His post caused for many people to react, some backing his statement while others were disagreeing with it. User, ‘Johnny Morongo’ said, “caution, rant warning” in regards to the grinch’s post. I feel he said this because he wanted to steer away from the truth. I am just as big of Jets fan as the next person but I agree with the ‘grinch’s’ statements saying that the Jets still have quite some work to do before they start talking about winning the division. On a side note today seemed to have plenty of commercial activity and spamming going on as well.

Second Essay. Blog #1.

My first day of observation took place on Friday, September 19th. I decided to observe the New York Jets fan group at This social media is classified as Usenet. It is a group devoted to discussing Jet’s players, coaches, draft pick opinions, strategies and game analysis. Many of today’s posts are reflecting back at last weekend’s disheartening loss to the New England Patriots. The Jets were the favorite over the Patriots for the first time in a long time because of the injury to their star quarterback Tom Brady. But, nevertheless still managed to lose, mainly because of bad play calling by the head coach and offensive coordinator. Most of the posts from today were about this topic. The main participant in this topic so far has been “Dan Leberfeld” and seems to me that he has a pretty solid background on the information and opinion that he is giving to the site.

Blueprint for 'Web 2.0'

For anything that is complex to be successfully constructed, a blueprint is necessary. That is no different for Web 2.0. ‘Web 2.0’ is a constantly changing term that describes our World Wide Web. (O’Reilly) The term is constantly changing because our web as we know it is constantly being altered. (O’Reilly) It signifies the main differences from today’s current Web and the previous web of the past, known as ‘Web 1.0.’ (O’Reilly) “Web 2.0 doesn’t have a hard boundary, but rather, a gravitational core. You can visualize Web 2.0 as a set of principles and practices that tie together a veritable solar system of sites that demonstrate some or all those principles, at a varying distance from that core.” (O’Reilly) One of the main factors for the ultimate success of Web 2.0 is participation.

The success of Web 2.0 is based on the size of its’ databases. These data banks determine how much information is available to the user. The more data that is available to the user, the more successful the database will be. According to Dan Bricklin, there are three ways to build large databases. The first way is to “pay people to do it.” (O’Reilly) The next way is to “get volunteers to perform the same task.” (O’Reilly) The third way is to do what Napster started. “Napster set its defaults to automatically serve any music that was downloaded, every user automatically helped to build the value of a shared database. This same approach has been followed by all other P2P file sharing services.” (O’Reilly) Another example showing that Napster’s idea of ‘internet decentralization’ proves to work is that of BitTorrent. (O’Reilly) Every user of the program BitTorrent is also a ‘server.’ (O’Reilly) This works by, “files are broken up into fragments that can be served from multiple locations, transparently harnessing the network of downloaders to provide both bandwidth and data to other users.” (O’Reilly) “BitTorrent demonstrates a key Web 2.0 principle: the service automatically gets better as more people use it” (O’Reilly)

After reading about how Napster started the idea of ‘internet decentralization’ and the idea of making users work as servers, we know participation is a key aspect of Web 2.0. (O’Reilly) I agree with O’Reilly’s statement of “users add value” to the World Wide Web, because they serve as databases for unlimited amounts of files and information as many programs and other users download right from there personal files that are acting as servers.

Summary from: 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

Friday, September 19, 2008

Technological and Organizational Change

For Monday’s class, I was assigned to read “Writing to Work: How Using E-Mail Can Reflect Technological and Organizational Change”, by Oren Ziv. Ziv discusses and analyzes different sets of e-mails to try to explain how the application has forever modified the different technological and organizational behaviors in different places of work. He demonstrates this by doing a case study on three different workers and how they use e-mail to negotiate technological and organizational conflict, and what they use e-mail amongst workers for.

The participants used as focal points during Ziv’s case study are Michael, Brad and Thomas. They are members of the Technology Planning Services, which is a branch of the Telecommunications department at the university where the research was conducted. Just before this study was done, their department was merged with another and became part of the university’s Academic Information Systems organization. All three participants had been members of this department before the new reorganization, and were fairly familiar with the structure. Their department is responsible for “assessing and evaluating current and future voice communications for the campus, managing local computer and information systems within the department and marketing telecommunications services to the campus.” (Ziv, 246)

Oren Ziv collected data for a six week period in the spring of 1993. He observed team meetings, one-on-one direct report meetings, conducted interviews, and collected all of the e-mail messages that were sent by the three focal points of the data collection. “By contrasting the use of e-mail with the other communicative channels observed, I sought to understand both when and how e-mail communication takes place and the social context that surrounds it.” (Ziv, 248) Once the data was collected it was time for Ziv to analyze it. Ziv had five steps in analyzing the data. First was filtering out excess data and only concentrating on e-mail messages sent by the three focal points of the observation. Second, was focusing on the e-mails sent. He looked for “characteristics related to my research questions and previous research” (Ziv, 249) done on the same subject. After came a “developed set of categories that characterized the communicative purposes found within the e-mails sent.” Fourth he “examined the field notes from the interviews, meetings, and team meetings for evidence of communications for the above and other purposes.” (Ziv, 249) The last step Ziv conducted was that he “examined all of the notes and messages combined for the evidence reflecting the participants perceptions of the organizational and technological changes that took place in the telecommunications department.” (Ziv, 249)

Once all of the data that was collected was analyzed, there were three main questions that Oren Ziv answered by his case study regarding organizational and technological changes. The first is; “How do people work together differently when electronic forms of communication are made available?” (Ziv, 259) During the study “TPS members used e-mail mostly for requesting or providing short answers and establishing the need for a meeting or phone call with members outside telecommunications.” (Ziv, 259” This proved that the staff was trying to close the gap from the prior organizational habits. The next question that was answered; “How do such technologies interact with the social patterns of the workplace?” (ZIv, 261) For the three focal points of the data research the use of e-mail was used as a ‘social action.’ (Ziv, 261) “They ascribed active social meanings and evaluations to the use of computer-mediated communication technologies.” (Ziv, 261) The use of e-mail signified their culture and by taking part in the use of it showed how much of a valuable tool it was to them. The third and final question was; “How does the availability of electronic mail influence the hierarchical structures within the workplace organization?” (Ziv, 261) The use of e-mail “did not flatten organizational hierarchies, but instead interacted with current hierarchical structures.” (ZIv, 261) E-mail represents an ‘ongoing social dialogue,’ and shows that “organizational and technological change are not easily managed, but requires complex webs of human relationships.” (Ziv, 261)

After reading this article it was very interesting to see how the used of e-mail use in the office started off slowly. Looking at the application now compared to then is fascinating because e-mail now is used for many different things. Most of the people on the Internet use e-mail daily as a way of networking them to the world.

Readings used for summary: Ziv, Oren. (1996). Writing to work: How Using E-mail Can Relect Technological and Organizational Change. In Susan C. Herring (Ed.), Computer-mediated communication: Linguistic, social and cross-cultural perspectives (pp. 243-263). Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Characteristics of the Medium

Many people ask the question, “What is it?” and most people do not know the answer. In this article, Adams and Clark continue to explain to us the many characteristics of the medium that we have learned to call the Internet. The Internet differs from all other types of traditional communication categories because there are so many forms of interaction. (Adams & Clark) There are many ways to communicate on the interpersonal level, such as e-mail and videoconferencing, but there are also many ways to communicate on a large scale to the public. For example many companies use their corporate webpage’s to give product information or make their product available for sale to the consumer. (Adams & Clark)
Two key terms that we learned about through this article were macromedium and metamedium. Macromedium tells us about the internet’s immense size and that it reaches to all audiences on a global scale. The term metamedium means that it can operate from both ends meaning that it can both send and receive documents such as audio and video files. (Adams & Clark) Despite the internet looking extremely strong and functional to the naked eye, there are problems to this ever-changing medium. Like everything else reliability is always one of the first questions when coming to a product or service. The internet is no different. As the internet continues to grow in size to does the frailty of the internet. (Adams & Clark) Another problem that users of the internet once faced was the speed it operated at. Through the years it has made significant advancements and can send a few thousand pages of text per second. The third and final problem is the distribution of the internet. (Adams & Clark)
In 1996 Rafaeli and Newhagen defined the six key characteristics that help make the internet function as well as it does and how they continue to evolve for the future of communication on the internet. First is multimedia. This is the process of a wide range of media being displayed on the same page. The next is hyper textual. This is the ability to link any type of content to a different type of content. The third is the web being interactive. This means that while you are accessing the internet there is no direct path that you must take, but instead you have the choice and control over the medium. The fourth is it being synchronous, meaning that the internet can access information immediately but at the same time it can store information for later use. Another key characteristic is that the internet is packet-based. This means that all information that is sent via the internet is grouped in segments and will reach its destination as long as the address is correct. The final characteristic is that the internet is digital based. Digital has many advantages over analog which is the alternative way to store information. These advantages are that it is not easily distorted, and suffers less wear and tear because there is no direct contact. (Adams and Clark)
Reading this article was extremely helpful in understanding the basic principles and functions of how the internet that we use daily works. I feel that the article was necessary to understand how communication takes place via the internet and gave a good explanation on the ever-growing and constantly changing medium that we call the Internet.