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Photos and Images

The final blog entry is about photo and image sharing. I feel it’s a good way to wrap up the posts that we have all made, because I know for me personally photographs tie into memory pretty well.

Photo sharing is a great way to be socially connected to other people over the Internet. Current day web users really have so many tools, features, and services through which they can communicate across the cyberspace. Communication through text such as web boards or forums, private messaging through emails, the using of social networking sites, and among them all photo sharing enhances the experience. Image and photo hosting websites such as flickr, tinypic, photobucket, etc. can be used to share images for personal enjoyment, personal collection,and also can be useful for business who are trying to collaborate on a project.

For the hands on activity I decided to try out flickr.com. I was impressed with what I experienced, and flickr’s virtual tour was pretty darn cool. So continuing with the activity I went ahead and created a flickr photo album with some pictures of my dad who recently passed away. He meant so much to me so it was natural that building a photo album about him was the first thing that came to mind. I was able to upload a couple photos from my computer to my album, which set me to my next task which was to share it with friends and family. I sent a couple invitations out to family and close friends, but so far have had no replies. Anyway I’m sure eventually someone will check it out and maybe have a couple pictures or two to add to the album.  I specifically tagged some of the pictures as father, and son, so that maybe other flickr users who have albums relating to the same theme words will stumble upon what I have made.

My project is far from finished, because I hope at some point most of my family and some of my friends get a chance to view the album. I feel like flickr is a great site for what I’m trying to accomplish.

And with this last post I bid you all farewell.  I enjoyed the cpsc class a good deal, maybe sometime in the future some of us will have another course together.

Adios

Awareness Tools

With all the news and information found across the web, it can be a daunting task to try and keep up with a lot of your favorite material.  In generations past, having a free voice that was heard by people from all sorts of places was very difficult. Lots of communication between people came through verbal speech or the mail. Popular news was nearly as primative.

The society we live in today is so very different. The challenge is no longer in finding new sources to get material and information that interests you, rather, now the task for many people is to keep track of all the happenings in society, politics, popular culture, entertainment, etc.

Many times I have mentioned in my blog posts just how monumental the amount of information that can be found on the web can be. So here yet again is another tool someone can use with which to gather content, sort it, and categorize it so that it becomes readily and available for easy access and viewing.

For my post on awareness tools I checked out the popular social news website reddit.com. Reddit is a great site to visit for anyone looking for popular Internet content. The site’s built in search feature is great for pulling up articles that have been submitted or shared by real people, not search engines or databases.  On top of that, users from reddit.com can rate each other’s submissions and either ‘like’ or ‘dislike’ them. For example, a currently hot news article from BBC news is about how British police threaten to arrest people who gather in public parks for planned water gun fights. The article talks about a danger to the traffic patterns near the public parks.

It’s only natural that this article would pop up on the front page for me when I visited reddit.com, because in the past couple of hours it has sparked a good deal of controversy in London; and a good amount of users on reddit.com have given the link a thumbs up.

Reddit.com is a great website and tool with current popular information and news articles that are made easily accessible for anyone looking to read about current events and happenings in the world.

Forums and Web Boards

Popular internet culture and technology tools are most often built around helping a community of people, for example, multiple users at once (that is after all one of the general goals of the internet). Forums and web boards are no exception.

Forums are great because they are one of the top go to areas on the Internet for first hand comments from other web users. While information and data found on forums are not always accurate, visiting them is a wonderful way to get personal opinions on subject matter.

There is an exception to this, which would be forums from college university websites. These web boards can be home to multitudes of professional opinions about course subjects from the professors, threads about tough topics from class, questions directed to students about the course value, polls to take, etc. While the academic side of university forums is prevalent, the good news doesn’t stop there.

Other web boards exist such as ones dedicated for Virginia Tech ‘Hokie’ fans. Hokie Haven is a great forum to visit if you are a fan of the VT football team.

Web Forum Database

Some websites offer a way to search popular forums from across the web. For example, big-boards.com is a search engine type website that tracks and lists forums found on the web by how popular they are (as in how many times they get visited each day), how many posts exist in the forums, how many members the forum has, etc.  Big-boards.com even has a system which gives a big-boards “rank” to the forum websites it features. At big-boards.com there is tons of content that is organized in a simple and understandable fashion, and most of the content can be found because it is broken up into categories.

Information/Document Sharing

As a class we were shown some of the latest Internet technology behind online document collaboration.  ‘Computing in the cloud’ as it is called, is a way for someone to use the Internet to store information or documents that multiple people can access. Because users aren’t storing the information on their hard drive from their personal computer at home, all of the work can be accessed at anytime and doesn’t have to revolve around the original user’s time schedule.

No one has to manually send emails with attached files to each other, rather the work can be easily completed in real time by the help of others.

Say for example a corporation has a big spreadsheet that must be completed which documents a large amount of the financial information for the company. Company employees and affiliates can use one of the document sharing services such as google.docs to make the spreadsheet ‘in the cloud’ so multiple people have easy access to it.

In addition to text documents, ‘excel-like’ spreadsheets, etc, Internet users can do a form of P2P (or Peer to Peer) file sharing with one another. This also happens to be an incredibly useful tool reigning from the lands of the cyberspace, as it allows for multiple people from anywhere in the world with a stable Internet connection to work together or transfer complete files with one another. Whether they be media files, or other forms of software, they can all be made available for easy access by certain programs such as Red Swoosh; a program developed by a leading technology corporation called Akamai.

With cloud computing programs such as google.docs and file sharing programs such as Red swoosh, or iMesh, the possibilities for group collaboration across the web is truly an awesome phenomenon.

Really simple syndication

The ultimate Internet tool for easily following your favorite websites… without having to manually visit them.

One key to being successful at tasks you do, or problems you face in the world, is to follow one simple rule. ‘KSS’. Keep it simple, stupid.  Let’s face it; in the hectic days of our lives time can be one of the things we value most.  Never having enough time to do the things you desire is something that mostly everyone struggles with throughout their life.  As college students, classes, jobs, relationships, can all be particularly demanding of the precious time that we have. Teens, young adults, mature adults, everyone could use a little extra time to help accomplish goals. That’s why I really like the idea of RSS.

Personal delivery service

RSS is kind of like your own little secretary or friend who says “Hey check this latest entry from your favorite website!” A friend who is working on the clock to figuratively hand feed you information relating to things you like to hear about. Keeping up with your current interests around the world is really as simple as checking your email.

I now welcome the fact that when I get online to check my email, I can check my bloglines account and smoothly be caught up on the latest information from CNN about the Gulf Oil Crisis.

Or for example, I take a look at my bloglines account and see that a website I follow which specializes in covering the entertainment industry has just put out a movie review about the current remake of the popular classic action drama, Karate Kid. A movie which stars the young Jaden Smith; son of actor and actress Will and Jada Pinkett Smith.

There are many reasons why Really Simple Syndication was a wonderful creation and addition to the life of the Internet.  I really encourage everyone out there to give it a test run. I have a feeling you”ll be pleasantly satisfied.

Social bookmarking

To start: the hands on activity

For this activity, as a class we were advised to check out delicious.com, a social bookmarking site.  The site itself is a neat and interesting tool.  I can already tell it has a lot of potential as yet another aid to help students, or anybody really, gather and access information.

Specifically, the class was told to search delicious.com for results pertaining to umwfa10 (better known as the University of Mary Washington Faculty Academy program).  It is an event put on by Mary Washington faculty and staff intended to show and discuss accomplishments and efforts from various projects which contribute to the common goal of education. I must say, I’m quite impressed by delicious.com and what it offers to Internet users.

Let’s face it, bookmarking sites so you can easily visit them again later is great, but it sucks when you are at your friends house and you want to show him a popular site you… and you can’t seem to remember the web site’s URL, or even worse, how to get to the site from a search engine. Say hello to social bookmarking.

Social bookmaking sites like delicious.com, or diigo.com, are social tools that multiple people can use for a group collaboration. They allow for you to keyword search a topic of your interest, and also contribute to a connected list of all bookmarked sites allocated to that keyword. It means easy access to other sites from across the web, that real people have grouped together, not machines.

Human cognition

Have you ever tried to search for something from a popular search engine like google or yahoo, and gotten ‘hits’ back of websites that have completely bogus information or are really a waste of your time to look at?  Social bookmarking is the key to this problem. Because sites like delicious.com have keywords related to groups of bookmarks that have been tagged by other people just like you, when you search for online comics a quick and easy list of familiar websites comes up, all having to do with comic strips and cartoons found from websites across the web. The bottom line is, humans understand how content is related better, in most cases, than machines do.

This can help tremendously for anyone seeking information over the web; so next time you are looking for some websites that will help you create your next class paper, maybe try starting at a social bookmarking site rather than a generic search engine (and of course check library databases).

It’s similar to the whole thing of going to the library and looking for book choices yourself, or instead talking to people around the library or the librarian, so they can help you find something you like.

T.V. at your computer…except better!

Internet video is taking the cyberspace by storm like hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.  But seriously.  I don’t think it’s possible to really find many Internet users out there who have not watched a video found on the Internet from popular sites like youtube, google video, justin t.v., etc. These sites are a one stop destination for Internet entertainment. People from across the world watch Internet videos every second.  Viewers stream content ranging from wildlife in the gulf to awe inspiring and entertaining homemade dance videos.

And that’s only half of it..

You’re a star!

In addition to the near endless browsing possibilities for Internet video users, some people have used the sheer popularity of Internet video sites to build their fame.  Anyone can create a youtube profile and start uploading their own creations, ranging from pop songs by youtube sensations like Justin Beiber, to comedians who create hilarious Harry Potter themed puppet shows and songs.

One of my current favorite youtube projects is a fan created Mortal Kombat movie trailer.  In an attempt to get Warner Bros. to film a new Mortal Kombat movie, a young director spent a lot of time forging an eight minute masterpiece of a trailer. After being posted on youtube for one day the video received over 2 million views, and has a huge Internet fan group crying out for the project to be a success. Will Warner Bros. take the cue to create a thriller movie? Only time will tell. But if it does follow through this will be one of the first ways a youtube user has created a video that has later been made into a major motion picture. If you are a dire hard Mortal Kombat fan this fan made trailer is a must see; heck, if you like action fight movies at all I highly recommend checking the video out. (Warning, the trailer shows scenes of brutal combat and violence).

Podcasts

It’s kinda like the radio and television, except better!

Ever heard someone talking about a particular subject that you found really interesting, but unfortunately the talk show ended and left you yearning for more information? Your needs be fulfilled with a great current Internet phenomena known as pod-casting. Loads of information is out there in the form of radio conversation, or video, and people love to talk and discuss it. People love to listen or watch people talk about current events in the news, etc. Pod-casting allows for great passive entertainment, and also can be used as an educational tool.

Lots of pod-casts are digital media files in episodic format, so that listeners who subscribe or are current followers get a sequence of audio files; and the greatest thing is that all of those conversations in pod-casting form are most likely archived somewhere in the cyberspace.

Most pod-casts are easily available for anyone who wants to listen.  Both audio and video files are seamlessly streamed to users, which makes it that much easier for fans to keep up with recent casts by whoever they follow, whether it be a comedian’s podcast, news web site’s podcast, etc.

Like to follow the current fads?

I, personally, always try to keep up with the latest fads or happenings in the world around me.  But say for example I get back from class and would like to just lay on my bed and hear someone explain or talk about some of the most recent news involving the upcoming world cup? Pod-casting is the answer for me. Instead of searching through articles, or watching the news channel where I may be subjected to news I am not interested in, including a ton of commercials; I could go to a handy podcast site known as podcast pickle and simply do a keyword search for ‘world cup’. Instantly archived pod-casts appear to me.  Pod-casts dealing with and featuring audio or video files from people all over the world sharing their excitement (or otherwise) about the upcoming tournament.

After I listen to two die hard football fans from the U.K. basically bubble with excitement as they converse about the up coming opener between the U.S. and England, I can then easily check one of my favored episodic pod-casts from comedian Tom Shillue and directly stream his latest stand up presentation.

The news gets even better! Since pod-casts are in media file format, I can download them and put them on my portable media player and listen to them whenever I want. In my opinion, pod-casts are the way of the future. Talk shows and late night comedy shows, etc are old forms of entertainment you access through your T.V.

With a standard Internet connection I can stream tons of user created content to satisfy my entertainment ambitions and yearnings, or at the same time get an informative podcast from a professor at Duke University’s Law School.

Virtual worlds

Role playing cyber experience

Virtual worlds have taken the Internet by storm in recent years, so I visited one of the leading virtual worlds to learn a bit more about this phenomenon. My personal experience across the cyberspace of the Internet took me to the lands of second life, a quite popular virtual world that allows players to interact with one another, and do various different actions and tasks; all the while being able to reach impressive levels of customization.  Residents of second life can customize things such as their personal looks, their clothes, furniture, their house, etc.  Ever wanted to dress like a banana and do the worm on the dance floor of a packed club? It might be a challenge or an embarrassment for someone to attempt to do in real life, however, in second life this is no problem. Users of second life can reach somewhat ridiculous levels of customization with their avatars,even as far as making themselves look like fruit or vegetables.

A social group setting

Players can even group up and participate in different activities such as visit virtual clubs, where they can dance with one another. Virtual world users can host small parties in their virtual apartments and chat with one another all night long.  In fact, many people delve deeply into their virtual world experience, going so far as to role play as member of the opposite sex.  Whatever your personal interests or social preferences, chances are there is someone in the cyberspace that you could relate with and strike up a conversation.

A  money jackpot!

Virtual worlds like second life are used to seeing the extra ordinary, or oddity. On that note, a most unlikely entrepreneur found second life to be his avenue for profit.  An average plumber in real life, one man named Kevin Albemar struck it rich and created a virtual dance island and hotel, where users could come dance and even ‘hook up’ with second life’s virtual second life prostitutes.  The man sold specially created beds within second life for people to purchase. He also had a room full of second life users who were clad in skimpy clothing, even naked, who sold themselves as prostitutes for second life currency or even real money.  He claims he has made over one million u.s. dollars through second life. Wow!

How do you know the information you are getting is from a good source?

One of the major complications with the broad scope of the internet is that… well there is really such a broad scope of information out there for us to access. With the near endless sources for data it can become a project to sort through all the backgrounds of the sources you are reading, learning, and citing work from.  Because who wants to base research for a paper on worthless trash from some guy on his computer in his garage claiming to be Dr. So-and-so from nonsense university, located in make-believe town USA? Not me!

What are my options?

Fortunately, if you know where to look, there are many places on the web where you can actually get a quality evaluated opinion of a source. Aside from running through a checklist of necessary information you should look before trusting a source (such as who the author is, where the information comes from, etc.) you might also want to think about referring to an evaluated opinion for some clarity. I like to use the Cornell University online library which provides some extremely useful tips when research hunting, and also suggests to use said virtual libraries which have a large number of evaluated sources. One of the top suggestions Cornell’s list of virtual libraries is ProQuest. Part of the Cambridge Information group, ProQuest is a massive trusted electronic database based out of Michigan. Quoted off of their website, ProQuest is the most comprehensive “information partner, creating indispensable research solutions that connect people and information. Through innovative, user-centered discovery technology, ProQuest offers billions of pages of global content that includes historical newspapers, dissertations, and uniquely relevant resources for researchers of any age and sophistication.”

Don’t get gypped

Keep a keen eye on any information you stumble across on the internet, specifically from websites suggested by popular search engines. You don’t want to be taken advantage of anywhere, especially not on the web where it can happen commonly if you are not careful.

Apparently, people are evengypped out of tons of money by getting fake degrees online from fake universities.


RSS Ackermann’s Blog

  • Thing 15 – Awareness Tools
    10 The Computer Age (In Motion) Had Enough? No doubt, the Internet and the Web are becoming indispensable, helpful, useful, and interesting. Every day in this class we’ve been looking into different tools, concepts, or ‘things.’ A few people have written in blogs that they don’t need some tools, for example  social bookmarking sites and […]
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