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.