My reflection: The Blogging and Wiki process

So it’s come to that pointy end of the semester, and now it’s time to reflect on the processes we have used to discuss digital and social media in undertaking this class.

The Blogging Process

I found the blogging process to be quite fun, and it allowed me to expand out and research and write about the things that interested me in regards to this subject. I find that too often that we are limited as students as to what we are given to write about for specific assignment pieces, but the blogging process provided me with the motivation and freedom to take on topics that I felt confident to discuss and reflect upon.

Blogging makes for a new and interesting way to present assessed work.

As a  person who has blogged before, I felt as if I was able to grasp the technology with ease. I really appreciated the opportunity to integrate some video’s and images into my work as it allowed me to be creative and take pride in the way I was able to present this assessed piece of work.

The Wiki Process

Dissimilar to the blogging process, I felt hesitant to approach the Wiki component of this course. I really had to have a think about the reasons as to why, and these were some of the reasons that hindered by progress with the class Wiki development.

* Uncertainty about how to present the work for the Wiki. Even upon looking at other students examples, I found it confusing to establish a way in which I wanted to lay out and present my work. Despite the explanations given in class, it would have been great to have been provided with written examples about how we were expected to present our work in this component of the course.

* Hesitancy to take on something new. I had never previously contributed to a Wiki and there was some reluctance to take on something I had never done before. I personally think that dedicating a seminar to introducing the Blogging and Wiki components to students on the University’s computer systems would be of great benefit to those taking on this subject in future.

Overall however, I do think that these components are a great initiative to learning, as they present new ways for students to take on and think about what they’re learning.

That’s just my take.


Another dimension to ‘Gifting’.

In this discussion I’ve decided to go back to a topic we had covered earlier in the semester – The concept of ‘gifting’. This multifaceted process ‘hit me right in the face’ as I logged on to one of my favourite file sharing sites this morning. In short, ‘gifting’, is defined by Mcgee in our class weekly reading as:

People or groups giving in ways that may not directly, immediately, or obviously benefit the giver.

In relation to social media, gifting can involve the process of file sharing online. This is something in which i particularly take a lot of participation in and wanted to focus on in this blog post.

I personally felt when reading Mcgee’s analysis on gifting that he failed to take into account another motivation as to why people gift over the internet. What’s apparent is that torrent based networks require the continued sharing or ‘gifting’ of files in order for the world of online file sharing to exist. Hence if users do not share a file, it makes it impossible for another online user to access it or download it at an acceptable rate.

Gifting is required to keep the Online File Sharing network working.

Admittedly, Mcgee states that we gift with the expectation to ‘receive something in return’, so it could be inferred that people’s motivation to gift on torrent sites is to ‘keep the system working’, and thereafter to receive in return.

Either way you look at it, Mcgee’s article provides fantastic insight into the various motivations and reasons why people gift. I just thought this was perhaps another dimension of ‘gifting’ that could have been further analysed in Mcgee’s paper.

How things change: Technology advancement and Digital Media.

I was sitting around with a few friends the other day and something really got me thinking.

Let me describe it.

We’re all lying around on couches, having a drink, eating junk food, having a laugh. The things you all know mates to do when having a good time. In recent times, you’d probably have expected  that the television would be on as we all sit around having a good time.

Well, interestingly enough, the television stayed off. The difference was that each of us sat there with a laptop on our laps as we all engaged in the world of Social Media. As usually expected, Facebook and Youtube were the point of interest between us. But it just really got me thinking about something we were discussing in class early in the semester.

‘The end of broadcasting and the rise in use of social media’

This was evidently a clear cut example of the emerging trend we had focused on in week two. I looked up as I sat there and I thought about it. And I asked myself the question. Why?

Through doing some research, I also came across Bansal Mohan’s, Medical Informatics: A Primer which suggests a wide range reasons as to why information systems and multimedia are exceeding the sale of television sets. Here were a couple that presented most interest in relation to this discussion.

Multimedia facility that provides high quality images, sounds and video clippings

Access to the realm of ever expanding online resources

What could be suggested, is that digital and social media presents a diverse range of options and choices for users, while technological advancements with new media have the potential to make broadcasting a thing of the past.

Through my own reflection, I have realised that social media allows us to ‘individualise’ ourselves in a way that television and broadcasting cannot allow. What I’m suggesting, is that through utilising social media we can choose to ‘do our own thing’ while in each others company, but at the same time still share what we see, read, or come across with one another. This is something that television or any other broadcast media cannot provide.

Online banking: Just leave your front door open while you’re at it.

Following up on another post by fellow classmate Greg Potter last month, I decided to further delve into the growing trend of online banking and shopping in modern day society.

Upon doing some research, I discovered that the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported back in 2006 that 61% of the 11.3 million people they surveyed had used the internet ‘to buy goods or services for private use’. This whopping statistic left me pondering about the potential hunting ground for online fraud.

Through knowledge gained through my personal experiences, I am aware of the dangers of online shopping and banking. Trojans virus’s and keyloggers present serious threats to all online users. Trojans can infiltrate information systems and open gateways for dangerous malware, including keylogging software which can track all the keys a user types when surfing the internet.

As an educated online user, I undertake various procedures (including updating anti-virus software and anti-spyware software regularly)  to ensure that I am protected against any dangers that could leave myself vulnerable to online thieves.

Yet there are many users who are not aware of these potential dangers. Users place trust in online services to provide privacy for their personal details, but there is little awareness about the external dangers that go further than what privacy controls on websites can provide.

I was just reading an article on BCC News online whereby 19 people in the UK were arrested for stealing 6 million pounds through online fraud. The scheme involved online users being targeted by Trojan horses in an attempt to steal log-in details for major banks. Once these private details were obtained the thieves would transfer cash into their own accounts.

Two things were made glaringly obvious from my research.

1. Online users need to be educated about potential threats to safeguard themselves when participating in online banking and shopping.

2. There needs to be greater efforts made to ensure that privacy controls are continually developed and enhanced to keep up with the evolving digital media climate.

Tweet at your peril.

I came across an article the other day in the Sydney Morning Herald titled ‘Twitter turns into anti-social networking trap for sport stars’. The article discussed the potential ramifications for sports celebs who use Twitter to post personal thoughts and comments. In recent times, many celebrities have faced the wrath of the media for exposing their ‘raw’ emotions via the social networking site.

Stephanie Rice’s posted a tweet following the Australian Rugby Union team coming from behind to defeat South Africa in a Tri-Nations victory, referring to the South African team as ‘faggots’. This comment resulted in intense media scrutiny and a loss of endorsements.

Similarly English cricketing star Kevin Pieterson was left with a massive hole in his wallet after tweeting his thoughts after his non selection in England’s team to take on Pakistan.

Done for rest of summer!! Man of the World Cup T20, and dropped from the T20 side too. It’s a f–k-up.

What’s clear is that both of these sporting celebs, as well as many of the other millions of users of Twitter, have been left vulnerable due to the lack of privacy on Twitter’s ‘one-to-many communication network’.

Twitter’s network is set up so that  Tweet can be ‘retweeted’ whereby each user can pass on the tweets of a user for others to see.

An example of how re-tweeting can leave celebrities exposed.

Despite Twitter having controls to protect users from having their pages accessed by anyone on the internet, a user’s comments can still be passed on into view of millions of others.

What Twitter lacks are the privacy controls to prevent what a user posts from being accessed by the entire population of the Twitter community, not just friends and ‘followers’.

Just a thought, but perhaps it’s time for Twitter to update their privacy controls to work in conjunction with the evolving climate of social media.

The elderly and their internet access habits: How age is a contributing factor but not a limitation.

I decided to take on board and look into an area that Peter Hughes highlighted as having potential for further research in our seminar today. The subject of the ‘elderly and their internet habits’ was a topic which was noted as having limited previous research conducted in its field. As such I decided to do a little bit of exploration to see what was out there, and came across an interesting article published by Maria Sourbati from the University of Brighton in the UK. The journal called, ‘It could be useful, but not for me at the moment’: older people, internet access and e-public service provision, provided me with some insight into three intriguing points on this topic.

Point 1: Reasons why the elderly were reluctant to use the internet.

Research conducted found that the elderly were less likely to use the internet due to ‘lack of media skills’ and ‘a perception of the irrelevance of internet access to the daily practices of information seeking’.

Point 2: What the results were when the elderly were introduced to and experienced the internet.

Elderly participants who used the internet throughout the research viewed it as a ‘positive experience’, providing them with forms of entertainment, sources of information, ways to communicate and meet new people and ‘keep in touch with modern times’.

Age is not a limitation for elderly internet users.

Point 3: Support services to teach the elderly about how to access the internet.

There is little support or motivation provided to the elderly to encourage and teach them how to utilise internet services. The study suggests that care workers in aged homes act as a ‘gatekeeper’ to the elderly and the internet, however most care workers are reluctant to give assistance as they proclaim to have limited knowledge themselves.

This research indicates that the conditions surrounding the elderly along with lack of technological nous acted as reasons to not pursue active use of internet facilities. Age however, although a contributing factor to the limited use of internet facilities, was not a limitation on their abilities to learn and use the internet if necessary.

You wouldn’t believe it but you’ve just posted your social signature.

I was exploring through the internet today and came across an interesting article published in The New York Times. The article, released on 17th of March 2010, titled ‘How privacy vanishes online’ states that computer scientists have discovered a method of collecting and reassembling information off social networking sites to form a user’s identity. I was stunned to read that through data mining on sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Flickr , that scientists have the capacity to form the identity of a person and uncover their social security numbers without even needing a name.

At this stage the technology is only ‘in the realm’ of university researchers, but if leaked, the ramifications of this type of research have the potential to be disastrous. Marketers will have the capabilities to abuse this information to best suit their needs, while online users will be left vulnerable with identity theft being a more tanatlising prospect than ever before for thieves.

Maneesha Mithal, associate director of the Federal Trade Commission’s privacy division says:

Technology has rendered the conventional definition of personally identifiable information obsolete… You can find out who an individual is without it.

Researchers have labelled a user’s distinct online information as a ‘social signature’, whereby the details collected from each a user has unique characteristics to accurately identify and separate an individual from another.

What’s apparent from these findings is that the privacy measures that have been established on social networking sites are clearly not adequate to accommodate the current digital media climate. In addition, users are clearly not approaching World Wide Web with the caution and care that they should be. One would hope as digital media continues to advance into the future that online security will evolve in conjunction with it. If not, there may be one hefty price to pay.