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I thought I would just take a few moments to reflect on what I am lucky enough to take away from NET11 – Internet Communications.

First of all, I’ve met some really great and fascinating people (characters, for a more affectionate term) through the various communication channels we’ve been using – discussion forums, social networking sites, online chat, Twitter and of course, eachother’s blogs. I think this interaction side of the unit has really put the icing on the cake, and probably a whole lot of the good stuff inside the cake too! I can’t recall being part of an online unit before where I’ve actually felt like I’ve been studying right next to other students.

Which brings me to the technology side of things. We’ve covered a wide array of Internet based communication tools, some of which have been duds and some which have proved to be everlasting favourites (at least as everlasting as Internet tools get!).

The most satisfying activity of the unit for myself has involved self publishing – through this blog and Twitter. I’ve been introduced to the power of publishing your thoughts, and consuming the thoughts of others. I’m excited at the thought of continuing this beyond NET11 and look forward to seeing how other students develop their online activites as we move on from the structure of the unit.

In closing this post, I just emphasise how much I’ve enjoyed this unit and I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone seeking to expand their knowledge and participation in Internet Communications.

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5. The mobility of electronic digital data

Email and similar forms of asynchronous communication carry with them the possibility for rapid, efficient, almost invisible ‘multiplication’ of the addresses to which communication is being sent. Functions such as carbon copying, forwarding and so on enable the most rapid form of communication ‘expansion’ – bringing other people into communicative circuits – yet seen. It is very easy, with forward for example, to simply ‘pass on’ information without processing it or, without processing the dynamics of the communicative relationship between you and the forwardee or without realising that you are establishing a third relationship – between the original sender and the final recipient. (Allen, n.d.)

Primarily used as a form of communication between multiple users, email has proved to be such an effective tool for the transfer of information that users have become reliant on the medium, in some cases even extending the tool beyond its original purpose.

The “exploding inbox” appears to be a common problem, crammed full of email messages from various sources and possessing various levels of importance, also known as email overload. Whitaker and Sidner (1996) discovered in a study of twenty email users that some individuals struggled to read and respond to emails. A troublesome ‘condition’, email overload causes the user to feel overrun and unable to complete tasks which may appear more important. Not uncommon is the cry that the email overload is preventing the user from doing their real job! In actual fact, email management has become a fundamental skill which in most cases is part of that real job.

I doubt that email management is something you would commonly see on a job description, but in today’s workplace I would say it is safe to assume it is a requirement. The struggle involved in email management can at times have negative effects for the individual and the corporation as a whole.

Dabbish and Kraut (2006) outline three main tactics used for the management of email; the ongoing maintenance of incoming messages, the archiving of message for later reference, and the use of the inbox as a task management tool.

Email has the ability to quickly distribute messages to numerous recipients, whether it is relevant to them or not. This presents challenges for both the sender and recipient. There is a certain amount of responsibility involved in email.

Firstly, care must be taken to consider who the email is to be sent to. Why send something unnecessarily? Is it the fact that email is free and no postage fees are involved? I know I would think twice about hitting the “send” button if I knew I were about to pay a fee. Perhaps a simple test is to consider whether you would pay to send the message prior to emailing – then again, maybe too simple a concept.

Secondly, the recipient must evaluate whether the message was necessary. If the message was not required, the recipient does hold a degree of responsibility to inform the sender, who may be totally unaware that the recipient did not actually require the information. I sometimes send information to multiple recipients with the assumption that they do actually require it. I would expect that if they didn’t require it, they would let me know.

Whilst on the topic of email in the workplace, we must also consider how email can prove to be a security concern. Email is commonly thought of as a transfer of text, which in itself could transport confidential data. It is equally important to identify file attachments as security risks.

The lack of geographical constraints means that data can be transported to someone on another continent almost instantly. It could be said that the mobility of digital data has played a significant role in “flattening” our world.

Annotated Bibliography

Dabbish, L.A. & Kraut, R. E. (2006). Email Overload at Work: An Analysis of Factors Associated with Email Strain, Computer Supported Cooperative Work, Retrieved 2nd February, 2009, from http://portal.acm.org.dbgw.lis.curtin.edu.au/ft_gateway.cfm?id=1180941&type=pdf&coll=portal&dl=ACM&CFID=15605080&CFTOKEN=55032916.

Dabbish and Kraut present their findings from a study of email users in the United States. Both Dabbish and Kraut are from the Human-Computer Interaction Instituted at Carnegie Mellon University, so are specialised at overseeing how people use a tool such as email and investigate whether there is such a concept as email overload, and if so, what techniques may help reduce the effects. Dabbish and Kraut discovered that the feelings of email overload could be minimised through regular email maintenance and keeping the inbox relatively small with a handful of folders being used for archival purposes.

Whittaker, S. & Sidner, C. (1996). Email overload: exploring personal information management of email, Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, pp. 276-283, Retrieved 2nd February, 2009, from http://portal.acm.org.dbgw.lis.curtin.edu.au/ft_gateway.cfm?id=1180941&type=pdf&coll=portal&dl=ACM&CFID=15605080&CFTOKEN=55032916

Whittaker and Sidner wrote this paper in 1996 when they were located at the Lotus Development Corporation. Technology wise, the paper is probably best viewed with its age in mind, given that much has change. However, their conceptual thoughts and studies of email usage are still relevant today. They attempt to demonstrate how the concept of email overload creates problems within organisations, and how users can implement techniques to try and minimise the effects of such problems. This paper presents solutions which may have inspired David Allen’s Getting Things Done phenomenon.

7. Netiquette

“An overwhelming and many-facted aspect of using email and similar asynchronous communication systems over the Internet is ‘Netiquette’. Netiquette describes ‘good’ and ‘bad’ conduct in online communication (amongst other forms of Internet use). But what is important about Netiquette is the concept that there are these ‘agreed’ rules of what is good and bad.” (Allen, n.d.)

Netiquette is most often referred to in situations where interpersonal communication takes place online, such as online chat, discussion forums and instant messaging.

As with a sport such as golf, the etiquette of the activity isn’t necessarily taught, but learnt by example. When a user first begins using the Internet, they are not subjected to reading the “rules” of Netiquette, nor is there a training course that every user must undertake. It is very much a case of learn as you go, as is the case with many internet concepts.

The Internet presents a very different culture for someone who hasn’t used it before and it’s very easy to make mistakes (Shea, V. 2006). As Shay says, “something about cyberspace makes it easy to forget that you’re interacting with other real people — not just ASCII characters on a screen, but live human characters” (Shea, V. 2006).

The Internet requires Netiquette to provide a form of self monitoring control amongst users. If the majority of users can grasp the concept that there are unspoken laws to adhere to, we can look forward to, in the most part, positive and friendly Internet experiences.

Discussion forums, even when moderators are present, rely on the users themselves to educate each other by example. In my experience, if someone steps beyond the line of what is considered acceptable participation, their fellow users will step in and attempt to put things right before any moderator intervention becomes apparent.

Email experiences similar situations but in many cases within a more personal conversation. Where two people are involved, one may point out with a simple reply what the sender did “wrong” in their initial email. It might be something as simple as typing all uppercase letters, which the sender may have not realised was outside normal Netiquette (RFC 1855, 1995).

The boundaries of Netiquette seem to disappear when we go beyond these means of communication. When it comes to online content, it seems there is more acceptance of what might be term unacceptable in a more immediate communicative experience. Why is this so?

Maybe there is an assumption that web content is, to a degree, static. Perhaps individuals see web content as an abstract form of communication, where they themselves are no longer part of the “conversation”. The lack of their personal participation may see an absence of emotion, or response, except in situations where the breach of Netiquette is directly aimed at them.

Guidelines for appropriate use of the Internet can be found online, such as these Netiquette Guidelines from Stanton University (RFC 1855, 1995). These particular guidelines were produced for organisations to apply for their own use, which in my opinion, is a good idea. The guidelines are quite dated, however much of what is listed still applies today.

In an environment where there is no single commanding body governing what is right or wrong, Netiquette guidelines provide an attempt for the Internet community to self govern, or at least keep each other in some sort of order. Imagine if there were no active application of Netiquette. The Internet would be a much less pleasant environment for users, and I expect that its attractiveness to business would be lessened, resulting in much less emphasis on the integration of the Internet into our daily lives.

Annotated Bibliography

RFC 1855: Netiquette Guidelines, (1995). Retrieved 1st February, 2009, from http://www.stanton.dtcc.edu/stanton/cs/rfc1855.html

This set of guidelines outline steps Internet users can take to ensure adherence to basic Netiquette. Compiled  by a working group with the aim of providing Netiquette guidelines for organisations to use. The guidelines cover the use of Internet technologies such as email, chat, mailing lists, FTP, Telnet and websites. Published in 1995, these guidelines are quite dated, for example some technology mentioned is rarely used today, but the general concepts can still be applied. The bulleted list format of this source encourages reading and application within external organisations.

Shea, V. (2006). The Core Rules of Netiquette, http://www.albion.com/netiquette/introduction.html
This page is an introduction to what is a very useful primer on Netiquette for both new and experienced users. Using real life examples, Shea explains ten rules for communicating across the Internet, blending common sense with Internet communication skills. Whilst this resource doesn’t present a list of do’s and dont’s, it educate the reader and makes them think about what the rules actually mean, and the effects poor Netiquette can have on other users and themselves. Published in 2006, the site is very much still relevant, and the people used in the examples can be related to.

20. Active communication generates identity awareness

“The common term for people who belong to lists (or other internet communities of discussion) and who do not actively participate is ‘lurkers’. Lurkers, obviously, are real people who exist in many ways. Yet, within the context of a particular list, if they are not posting, then they appear invisible and, indeed, can lack identity completely.” (Allen, n.d.)

There are two ways to use an online forum. One is to consume the information, lurking in the background and selectively taking in information when it seems appealing. This method is most likely the common starting point for most forum users until they feel comfortable using the second method, which involves actually participating in the discussion.

A persons identity does not necessarily translate or appear equal to their online identity. The two types of identities are very different, and it should not be assumed that the characteristics of each are even at all similar in the two environments (Suler, J.R. 2002). When entering a new online community, an opportunity presents itself for the user to mould their own identity, which could be significantly different to their real physical and mental attributes (Talamo 2000).

Until a user begins participating in the forum, whether they have signed up for a username or not, they are not an effective part of the community and other forum users will generally be unaware of them. Participation is the key that opens the door to the community. To the user, participation may take on a different meaning. Some users may choose not to participate at all, but still see that as their form of participation (Suler, J.R. 2002).

Some forums see users posting continuously throughout the day, and it is these users who will form strong identities amongst the community. Personalities begin to shape, and relationships are forged. Users develop knowledge of their cohorts, their interests, troubles and even emotions.

It is not uncommon for a process called “positioning” to take place in the online environment. This involves a user’s identity changing dynamically to suit the situation, rather than remaining as a constant (Talamo 2000).

There are similarities between a forum discussion and a face to face group discussion. The participants actively conversing with each other will almost certainly come away with greater awareness of each other, than say, the quiet person sitting in the corner. In this model, we see social skills transferring beyond face to face interaction and into the virtual existence that is an online forum.

In my experience, forum users eventually begin organising social events to catch up “offline”. The personal bonds that are made through regular online activity almost have a reassuring effect on people, as though you can predict a persons personality and value through their persistent participation. However, antisocial behaviour in an online forum can be equally powerful, with the effects flowing over into real life.

But what happens when a commercial entity enters the forum, not just as a lurker, but as an active participant? Will the community accept them? Will this build brand awareness, or cause a backlash against the brand? It is a risky move.

Taking a global view of the situation, an individual and a commercial entity are effectively equals in the online community. Both can produce constructive, quality input for the community. So why do some users become disgruntled when they discover another participant is actually representing a commercial brand?

Annotated Bibliography

Suler, J.R. (2002). Identity Management in Cyberspace, Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies, Vol.4, No.4, Retrieved February 1st, 2009, from IngentaConnect.com database.

This paper presents thoughts about how Internet users have the ability to develop an alternate, online version, of themselves through both deliberate and unconscious actions. It explains how some people “deconstruct” their lives and recreate various independent social circles of the real life, within the online environment. It explains how negative feelings and feelings of alienation can be overcome through online interaction, leading to an improved self esteem and mindset. The concepts identified within this paper are very relevant to todays online world, and leave the reader dissecting their own patterns of online behaviour.

Talamo, A. & Ligorio, M.B. (2000). Identity in the Cyberspace: The Social Construction of Identity Through On-Line Virtual Interactions, First Dialogical Self Conference, Retrieved 3rd February, 2009, from http://www.activeworlds.com/edu/research/identity.pdf

This paper investigates the construction of identity through social interaction in a three dimensional virtual world. By creating a three dimensional virtual world, a study was undertaken to analyse how participants built their social identities in the online environment. Participants were asked questions which related to actions they undertook within the virtual world. It found that virtual environments provide the ability for users to adjust their behaviour and appearance according to the context of the situation, and highlights the fact that users think in some way about how others perceive their identity.

32. Virtually a Library?

“A persistent metaphor used to allow people to understand the Internet is that the Internet is a ‘library’, often with the implication that it is actually better than a library because of the wider array of resources available by electronic (as opposed to physical) transmission. The comparison is invidious. The Internet and (physical) libraries share some elements in common – much as, for example, decision-making in families and in state governments have some similarities. The context, scope and underlying assumptions of each different system – Internet and library – are very different. We can see in the use of the ‘library’ metaphor an attempt to make the ‘net ‘sensible’ to a non-technical audience, to give it a purpose and meaning, as well as a technological description. But, for advanced users, the metaphor should be discarded (though not without noting its common use) in favour of an understanding of the key element in the library system: classification into categories.” (Allen,n.d.)

Grasping the concept of the Internet for the first time can be a daunting prospect, which is exactly why the metaphor used to describe the Internet as a ‘library’ is so effective. We grow up using libraries throughout our education and some of us continue that use as we grow older. As children we are taught that libraries hold information, which is exactly what the Internet does.

The idea of the Internet as a library holds firm when you consider the barriers it breaks down with regards to public access (Gellman 1996). Not everyone lives within close proximity to a library, but telecommunication networks are expanding to reach regional and even outback areas, taking Internet resources directly to people who were once isolated.

However, the concept of the Internet as a library only relates in a general sense. The problem we have with the Internet is that there is no defined system for finding information. There are no categories or indexes that conform to a set standard. The Internet was never designed with large scale retrieval of information in mind (Lynch 1997).

I hear you say “but what about Google”. Well yes, Google does provide a form of indexing but if you travel across to Yahoo, you will find their results differ, as do the results of each search engine.

Libraries commonly use the Dewey Decimal Classification system to organise their content. This system was first published in 1876, and has extensive detail with regards to specifying the index number of a specific item (The DDC 22 Introduction, n.d.).

There have been attempts to reproduce this system online, such as http://www.deweybrowse.org/ but the Internet is such a vast, dynamically expanding environment that cataloguing all available content is beyond comprehension!

As we see semantic mark-up being used to create page content, indexing content according to a standard like the Dewey Decimal Classification might develop into something that is achievable. We might see the introduction of an HTML metadata tag which allows the page to be allocated an index number which could be used by an open source “library site” to produce a comprehensive catalogue of web pages. This automation via the use of metadata would remove the human category classifying process currently required, enabling a grand scale indexing to take place.

However, automated tools which do not involve human input categorise information differently to humans which could cause significant problems in making it useful (Lynch 1997). What is the point of categorising information if you cannot effectively and efficiently find what you require?

We must also ask, what is the information being used for? If we look at the Internet as a library, what type of library is it? Academics might view the Internet as a collection of resources at their disposal, teenagers as a library of MySpace and Facebook profiles, intelligence agencies as a library of data sources ready for analysis (Lynch 1997). The Internet is so many things to so many different types of people that it is difficult to put them all under one umbrella, library wise.

Annotated Bibliography

Gellman, R. (1996). Disintermediation and the internet, Government Information Quarterly, Vol. 13, Issue 1, pp. 1-8, Retrieved February 5th, 2009, from http://dx.doi.org.dbgw.lis.curtin.edu.au/10.1016/S0740-624X(96)90002-7

Gellman’s report revolves around the concept of disintermediation. Gellman uses an example of banks in the 1960’s and 1970’s who were struggling to retain customers when competing financial institutions entered the market offering more attractive products. He presents the issue of disintermediation and libraries, stating that the Internet is taking business away from libraries, but also suggesting that there are steps libraries can take to minimise the impact, such as producing their own information products to offer to customers. This report is a very appropriate one in a period where many services are being slowly changed by the Internet.

Lynch, C. 1997, Searching the Internet, Scientific American, March 1997, Vol. 276, Issue 3, p. 52, Retrieved February 4th, 2009, from http://search.ebscohost.com.dbgw.lis.curtin.edu.au/login.aspx?direct=true&db=buh&AN=9704276042&site=ehost-live

In this report, Lynch describes how combining the skills of computer scientists and librarians can be used to organise the array of information on the Internet into a categorised system, similar to that of a traditional library. The difficulties in automated categorisation are mentioned, such as how automated categorisation will never be as effective as manual categorisation by a human. The report dates back to 1997, which is a long time Internet wise, but the same principles apply today. We still have the same challenges ahead of us, and whilst in many ways we are close to solving them, there is still much progress to be made.

Bibliography

Dewey Browse. (2009). Retrieved February 1st, 2009, from http://www.deweybrowse.org/

The DDC 22 Introduction (n.d.). Retrieved February 4th, 2009, from http://www.oclc.org/dewey/versions/ddc22print/intro.pdf

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As part of Module 5 we have been encouraged to consider how Internet technologies can be thought of as an “information ecology“, rather than simply a set of tools, systems, and communication between them.

As we know from our physical environment, an ecosystem consists of everything from ourselves, animals, plants, physical structures and organisms which we may not even be able to see.

In considering an information ecosystem, we must be aware of the mulititude of elements that make up this virtual environment. These elements include but are not limited to defined objects such as users and tools, and also abilities like adaptation and creativity.

Every action we undertake in the online world produces an outcome. A click on a website produces a record in the site’s analytics program. A blog post produces another document on the web. A purchase transaction produces multiple actions from activating a shipping process, through to a series of financial transactions between ecommerce operators. Just as in the physical environment, the online equivalent produces equally powerful outcomes, not excluding destructive results.

In his paper Information Ecology, Felix Stalder presents the concept of Interdependency within an information ecology. The idea of Interdependency is that everything within that particular environment is connected through communicative processes, producing complex relationships. These complex relationships are formed partly via another dimension, that of Differentiation, which highlights that information only survives if it holds a unique value and is of use for others. In this form, a single item of information is not complex, but a group of items bound together by relationships is, and can produce highly valuable results. In trying to consider an example of what this actually means, I put forward the example of social networking, where a single profile holds little value but a network of a million profiles holds a very complex and interdependent ecology.

Interestingly, Stalder published his paper in 1997, and referenced from 1996 a note citing Apple Computer’s failure to capitalise on interdependency as a reason for their decline. Maybe this is a good example of how no single method of survival can be labelled as ideal, since Apple posted record quarterly profit of $US 1.61 billion in the first quarter of the current financial year, still keeping with their closed operating system format (Apple 2009).

What would happen if we disengaged one section of the information ecosystem? Think for example, what effect censorship has and how it would “disturb” other elements of the ecology. Censorship is in place in some countries at the moment, so the ecology has adapted to cope but we cannot quantify or establish the exact effects of such activity. In an environment where so much information is quantifiable, we still cannot measure the effects of typical ecosystem activity. As in the “real” world, not everything is measurable.

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This task involved working through a tutorial about evaluating a web site in terms of it’s purpose, author, content, coverage, currency and recognition.

The tutorial suggests thinking about the following points:

  • What is the purpose of the content and is it relevant to your goals?
  • Who is the author and publisher, and what are their credentials?
  • Does the site appear biased? Are alternate points of view presented?
  • Is the site reputable and recognised by others?

For the task presented in this module, I am to create an annotation for one of the sources found in the previous task (which should be related to the unit – not sure about that, but I will do the same for the concepts assignment anyway).

One of the sites returned in my search for “applescript, xcode” was a page from The Applescript Studio Programming Guide.

Applescript Studio Programming Guide

Applescript Studio Programming Guide

What is my judgement of the site according to what the tutorial taught me?

First of all, the information is highly credible since it is from the Apple website, and both of the terms I search for (“applescript” and “xcode“) are names of Apple products. This tells me I can trust the information provided and indicates that this site is most likely the best place to begin looking for information.

The type of information being presented is of an informative nature, providing documentation about how to use a particular Apple product. I know that the Developer Connection section of the site is a reputable source, since it a primary source of information for Apple software developers.

My  annotation would look something like this:

“The Applescript Studio Programming Guide presents extensive documentation for software developers wishing to use Xcode, Apple’s integrated development environment, to create software for Mac OS X. Neatly formatted, the documentation is compiled by Apple themselves, and arranged in a navigable fashion complete with search capabilities.

Links to internal Apple reference and terminology sites provide additional resources for visitors. The guide is dated 2007, so users of the latest Xcode products may wish to have a look at the Developer Connection home page for up to date documentation.”

All in all, I would rather use an annotation in my research when evaluating a source rather than rely on simple data such as author, url, date, etc. The additional information and comments that an annotation provides are a valuable source, and given the right circumstances, can provide credibility for a site.

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Search Engine Task

I chose to search for the keywords applescript and xcode using the following format to begin with: “applescript, xcode“.

I tried this using several web browsers and found the results varied:

  • Google – 482,000 results
  • Yahoo – 1,010,000 results
  • Ask – 85,700 results
  • Live – 300,000 results
Searching Google for "applescript, xcode"

Searching Google for "applescript, xcode"

I installed an application called Copernic Agent Basic which was perhaps once a useful tool, but the search engines available in it were out of date and the whole application seemed a bit behind the times. It wasn’t very useful at all.

Boolean Searching Task

Searching with the “OR” operator returned the highest volume of results, with Google returning 7,690,000 results.

Searching with the “AND” operator returned the most relevant since the result contained material related to both keywords.

To locate information coming only from university sources I would use a university library which has a database such as EBSCOHost, or perhaps try Google Scholar. I could always just use “.edu” as one of my search terms which would return results from educational institutions.

In addition to the “AND“, “OR“, and “NOT” search operators, Google accepts a variety of advanced operators such as:

  • Numrange Search (eg. “iPod $100..$250“) Search within a specified numeric range.
  • Domain Search (eg. “copyright site:www.curtin.edu.au“) Search a specified site for a keyword.

Google has a useful help section for Google Web Search.

Organising Search Information Task

As much as I would like to have a bookmarks application that I am happy with, the applications I looked at haven’t appealed to me and my preferences with regards to research.

What I would like to have is a simple little app that I enter minimal data into and it gets stored in a database (SQLite or something similiar) where I can easily query by category or domain, etc. This is something I will add to my list of projects!

In the meantime, I use a plain text file to record links and references for research work. This way, I record the necessary data (URL, author, institution) and add comments as desired. I have found this works well, it’s simple, and for that reason I use it habitually. If I had to use an application with a dozen features I would probably avoid using it so much.

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I thought I would outline a few of the main tools I use when browsing the web. Keeping these tools up to date help ensure I can access online material, and where possible I use auto-update settings to make sure the applications update as soon as a new version becomes available. (Please Note: in some circumstances – like operating systems – it can be wise to wait a little bit prior to updating in case there are problems — nothing is perfect!).

Adobe Reader – Adobe’s PDF reading application makes viewing PDF’s a breeze. Apple Mac’s have Preview built-in but I’d still recommend setting the default to Adobe Reader. Be sure to keep this up to date since PDF files are everywhere. If you’ve got Acrobat installed, I’d just use that instead of the lighter Reader app.

Adobe Flash/Shockwave Player – This is becoming increasingly important to keep up to date (many mobile phones even have Flash pre-installed now). The development of Rich Internet Applications (RIA’s) which use Flash technology and the accompanying Flex platform are a good reason to keep this up to date. The Flex Showcase presents a range of sites that use Flex to let you do everything from design your own Harley Davidson motorcycle, to checking storm warnings.

Microsoft Silverlight – The need for this plug-in is becoming more common, although Flash still dominates the video/RIA market.

Media Players – It’s a good idea to have a few types of media players since each tends to have its own proprietary format. The open source VLC media player could be a good choice if you’re looking for something that will play a variety of formats but I’ve had a little bit of trouble playing some files (probably just need to update codecs or something).

Browsers – Web browsers are very much a personal choice but since I do some web development, I have several installed. Opera, Explorer, Netscape, Safari and Firefox all get used at various times. On my PC I also use Virtual PC to run multiple versions of Explorer for testing purposes. For everyday use, Firefox and Safari are favourites.

The coolest thing about the web is the instant availability of software. I remember spending time when I was a kid looking at all the software boxes (that I couldn’t afford) in the computer shop. These days, regardless of what you require, you can access it within minutes via the web. The volume of open source software out there probably means you can even find a free (yes, legally free) version of what you need!

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This post resonates from a NET11 forum post I made, so apologies for anyone who finds some content similiar to my previous writing elsewhere.

Web 2.0 holds different meanings for various groups of people. For example, for the designers it represented the introduction of visual effects like gradients, rounded text and extensive use of CSS to produce a distinctly “Web 2.0” style. However, web technology commentators saw Web 2.0 as a defining period of data distribution, where web applications and services could share data and receive data from users. The introduction of API’s (Application Programming Interfaces) open for public & commercial developer use saw mash-ups of apps being created all over the place. RSS provided just one way for apps/sites/services to share data with users and other online entities.

Tim O’Reilly, who I think coined the term “Web 2.0”, covers his view of what Web 2.0 is in this article (Keep in mind, the article was written in 2005 – so much has happened since then).

A Web 2.0 application doesn’t necessarily rely on a single technology like AJAX. It could also be built without using an API, or “Web 2.0” style graphics.

The focus of our attention when defining these Internet periods (Web 1.0, 2.0, 3.0) should be on how we are using the Internet.

Web 1.0 was, in short, the introduction of business and eCommerce to the online environment.

Web 2.0 was/is, the sharing of data between applications/sites/services, and the production of data by users.

Web 3.0 is being described as the period where semantics and data intelligence come to the fore.

As we would all have experienced, there is no moment in time where we can define the beginning of one period and the end of another. Web 3.0 is already happening, but Web 2.0 is very much a part of our daily online activities.

The exciting (and scary) thing about Web 3.0 is that much of it is invisible to the user. Behind the scenes, data is being mined and algorithms are working overtime analysing data that will provide us with the next big thing – whatever that is.

Having said all that, it’s just my opinion on a debate that has been well worn into browsers around the globe — and will probably continue to be debated as we roll through Web 3.0 to Web 11.0!

Our task for this particular exercise was to compare two forms of bookmark sites; one as a typical “Web 2.0” site, the other a plain old vanilla flavoured HTML site.

It is clear that the Web 2.0 version of the bookmarking site holds more appeal for users. For example, the it holds the following advantages:

  • Date Display – shows age of link
  • Voting – shows link popularity
  • Comments – enables user feedback
  • Tags – aid categorisation of links

All in all, Web 2.0 has opened up a whole new level of interactivity to Internet users. Web 3.0 is on the way!

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