Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Draft Web2.0 and Facebook

Web 2.0 has changed the way we (users) look at the internet and its uses. The World Wide Web is no longer a place just for retrieving information, but is a place to interact with other users while being able to add one’s own flare. According to O’Reilly (2005), “Web 2.0 is the business revolution in the computer industry caused by the move to the Internet as a platform, and an attempt to understand the rules for success on that new platform.” To use and view the internet as a platform helps us (the users) work with the internet to receive its full potential rather than fighting, it as O’Reilly says. Web 2.0 is based on user generated programming, allowing users to not only find information but to add information and interact as well. These concepts of user generated content has allowed the internet to evolve and change the web culture creating tools like social networking sites, video sharing, blogs and wikis. Due to the constant updates, keyword search, and inter-linking of web sites, more and more people are learning to love the internet and appreciate what they can do on this new platform. More and more, people are realizing Facebook has started a cultural revolution in the way people now communicate and reach each other.

One of the most popular things on web 2.0 are social networking sites. On these sites people can connect to friends, share photos, and talk to each other, among many other things. The most popular social networking site on the internet today is Facebook. It’s combinations of many Web 2.0 functions has made it user friendly and current. Facebook was created by a man named Mark Zuckerberg, a former student at Harvard University. Zuckerberg started this project solely for the use of Harvard students to interact with each other. According to Michael Hirschen (2007), Facebook was created to “allow students not only to gawk at one another's photos but also to flirt, network, interact.” When the spread of this program reached to half the student body in about two weeks, people wanted more. People all around the Boston area asked for access. Soon other colleges followed. After four months, Facebook was added to thirty other college networks and in the year to follow anybody with a valid email could join. This is one reason Facebook grew exponentially.

Another reason that Facebook is such a popular social networking site is due to the fact that it incorporates so many Web 2.0 features/ applications. One of its original features is the profile. On the profile, members can list things like their favorite books, movies, and television shows. Also they have the option to put their contact information along with religion and age. By doing this, it lets other members or your friends know a little more about you and what you are like. On Facebook, you can add friends who you think you would like to get to know or already have a relationship with. Facebook has an application called “The Friend request”. After becoming friends with someone, you can then start commenting on their profile “Wall” about their pictures and the experiences you have with them. This part of the web site allows people to interact with one another on an online basis. This new type of online communication is leading to the use of new Web 2.0 applications and is changing the way that people now communicate. Facebook has recently added picture sharing, journals (blogs), music sharing, and video sharing in order to increase usage and user volume. These are just a few examples of applications Facebook has to offer. According to Curry, Kiddle, Markatchev, Simmons, and Tan (2008), “as of April 2008 the number of applications has increased to over 22,000.” This gives us a clear example of the power that Facebook has as a social networking site.

There are many different types of uses for Facebook. The majority of its uses are the same depending on the age demographic using it. According to there are thirty three million users in the United States as of September 2008. Of these users the females outnumber the males in any age demographic. At first, Facebook was completely a college based website. Now that it is open to anybody with a valid email, this breakdown has changed. The non-college age groups are increasingly growing in Facebook memberships. Even though ages 18-25 still hold fifty two percent of U.S. Users, the teen (ages 13-17) and the adult users (ages 35-54) have been increasing in extraordinary amounts. Most of the common uses in all age groups are to connect with friends. This changes in degrees, where the older generation is not looking to connect with new friends but to stay connected with old ones. Also some members of Facebook ages 35-54 are just looking for ways to reconnect to their past. The teens are using Facebook for all sorts of things, from their many applications like “Hot or Not” to playing games and instant messaging on the site. This all factors into how Facebook is changing the way people are communicating and are using the Web 2.0 as a platform.

This new way of communicating online through social networking sites has developed many beneficial qualities. People from all over the world are joining Facebook and other social networking sites for the purpose of “Social Searching” (Joinson, 2008). This “Social Searching” allows a person to find and interact with people online that they have met offline. According to Joinson (2008), “Social networks serve a number of functions in offline life –for instance, providing social and emotional support, information resources and ties to other people.” These bonds of friends give the feeling or sense of community to its users. By doing this, Facebook allows its members to confide in each other and further progress the system.

One of the main reasons that I have observed why people join and use Facebook is to stay connected. Due to the addition of some Facebook applications, it has been made possible for a user to communicate with a buddy from far distances and to share similar experiences that they would in a face-to-face interaction. This only generates the popularity of Facebook now that it has gone international. Facebook users take advantage of the technology they have and are now able to leave video notes on their friend’s walls. Facebook has not only positively affected people’s social abilities but has been able to reach the minds of young adults everywhere. Due to Facebook’s success it has drawn the attention of many large and important profit and nonprofit organizations. On Facebook, these organizations can reach users and receive more participants and feedback than ever before. Over this past year, there were many new applications added to help influence youth voters to get out there and voice their opinions. This has shown a clear effect on youth voter turnouts. According to Bode (2008), “Various types of Facebook behavior have clear and significant effects on several types of positive offline political participation.” Through Facebook and other social networking sites it seems that people are raising their “Social Capital”. In 1995 Robert Putnam published a groundbreaking and innovative essay on social capital: “Bowling Alone”. Putnam (1995) explained that the concept of social capital consists of “features of social life - net- works, norms, and trust - that enable participants to act together more effectively to pursue shared objectives” (pp.664-665). This is seen at the core of Facebook; bonds are built, and users interact together to create content on the site. We are now seeing more and more positive attributes that come from Facebook, but that is not always the case.
Facebook is not a free secure online playground for a user to go and interact with friends. It holds some of your real life personal information. Just as in the real world, there are predators online. Sexual predators are using Facebook to lure in their prey of younger children. With the profile application, it makes it easy for predators to hide who they really are so that they seem to be friendly people. Facebook has done some things to try and prevent this. It has “reached an agreement with 49 state attorneys general to institute a broad set of principles intended to protect young users from online predators and inappropriate material” (Stone, 2008). This helps ensure the safety of young users on Facebook.

Another deterrent to Facebook is its policy and information holdings. With all the personal information you put on to sign up for Facebook, your identity and information is ripe for the picking. Anything you post on Facebook, such as pictures, writings, and video are all now owned by Facebook (Monterio, 2008). Also if you ever want to terminate your account, Facebook holds your information in case you feel in the future that you would like to reactivate it. Most people have no idea that this is the case, but if you look under the terms and agreements when you first sign up it clearly states this fact.

One of the major problems facing Facebook is identity. Many users are masking their information so that they seem more appealing to the general public of Facebook. This is seen more often in teens ages 13-17 rather than in adults and young adults ages 28-54. People altar their image on Facebook in order to be someone they are not and conform to the stereotypes of the offline world. This is a reaction to judgmental attitudes of others received in offline experiences. This directly effects Facebook users by exposing them in awkward situations. For example, if you were chatting with someone on Facebook for blind date... When you met this person all the nice qualities that you had liked about them were false and inaccurate. This would cause for an awkward relationship and a weird summer.

This is why in recent times, employers and law enforcement use Facebook to their advantage. In most major firms or large corporations, there are people employed to do a background check on its applicants. If you have any information you do not want people to see on your Facebook account, you have to privately filter out your friends with a privacy setting. Even still, there have been many instances where people have not received the job they wanted because of unflattering pictures on their profile. Government and law enforcement agencies are now using Facebook to find clues about many criminal activities. People or friends might leave photos or information on your profile that can link you to information or the actual crime.

Web 2.0 applications such as Facebook are creating all kinds of changes in the offline world. This new type of communicating with one another on the internet is becoming the norm. The virtual world is leaking into our real lives. This new Dialectical world is changing not only the way we communicate but the way we are now receiving information. Before there was only one way communication when it came to marketing and politics, but now because of Web 2.0 applications people are becoming part of the system. In the future we will not be able to describe certain parts of life without mentioning the web; it will be like explaining the human race without talking about a man or a woman.

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

Ellison, Nicole B., Steinfield, Charles, & Lampe, Cliff. (2007). The Benefits of Facebook "Friends:" Social Capital and College Students' Use of Online Social Network Sites.
Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 12(4), 1143-1168. Retrieved August 23, 2007 from

Bode, Leticia. (2008). Don’t Judge a Facebook by its Cover:
Social Networking Sites, Social Capital, and Political
Participation [Electronic version]. Department of Political Science
University of Wisconsin – Madison. Retrieved April 4, 2008, from

Hirschen, Michael. (2007). About Facebook. Atlantic Monthly, October Vol. 300, p. 148-155.

Stone, Brad. (2008). Facebook Agrees to Devise Tools to protect Young Users. New York Times, 05/09/2008.
Inside Facebook: Tracking Facebook and the Facebook Platform for Developers and Marketers. (2008). Retrieved September 13, 2008, from

P.A. Monterio. The Dangers of Facebook. (2008). Retrieved January 16, 2008, from, Adam M. (2008). Looking at, looking up or keeping up with people?: motives and use of facebook. Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 24, pp. 1027-1036. Retrieved October 24, 2008, from

Putnam, Robert D., 2000, Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, Simon & Schuster, New York, NY.

Curry, Roger, Kiddle, Cameron, Markatchev, Nayden, & Tan, Tingxi. (2008). Facebook Meets the Virtualized Enterprise [electronic version]. Retrived September 15, 2008, from

Monday, December 1, 2008

Watching people use the Web 2.0 medium called Facebook

In our upcoming assignment we have to discus and educate about a Web 2.0 medium. For my medium I chose Facebook a popular social networking site. Facebook is used mostly by teens and young adults (15-28) but is increasingly being used by adults or parents of these teens. I had observed this scenario when I had gone home for break. When I came home my mother was uploading photos of my cousins so that her friends can see. First I did not even know my mother had a Facebook let alone even know what it was. When I asked her why she had signed up for this medium she told me "so I can be more connected with my friends". I was a little blown away, to think my mother is becoming as connected as me. Then I thought about why I signed up in the first place and it was for similar reasons of connecting with friends and new people. After seeing my mother I went to my brothers house to see my nephews; what do I see my little nephew talking to his friends on Facebook. I think I was even more shocked to see him on Facebook than my mother, considering he is only eleven years old. I observed him for a little while to see what he would use Facebook for and found out he does almost the same things as me. He checks his mail, photos and looks at other friends profiles. So I asked him now why did you sign up? He told me "because every one has Facebook duhh!". I saw that this social networking site is turning into a cultural phenomenon reaching all ages and cultures in America.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Its a Small World After All

In today's reading for class we look at Shirky, Clay (2008). Here comes everybody: The power of organizing without organizations (chapter 9). Last week in class Professor Stromer-Galley ask the question of what an organization was and can you have organization without organizations. I did not know what she was getting at until this reading. Shirky talks about two different ways that this could possibly work.

In the reading Shriky talks about social networking sites and how they work with little outside organization. Shirky bases this on two factors "homophily", dense and sparser connections (Shirky, 2008). The sense of homophily Shirky says is what brings like and like together. I looked at this in the sense that people find common interest in each other and build multiple common interest to build a friendship. This also works online in social networking sites by connections. "Small World networks" as Duncan Watts and Steve Strogatz state have two types of connections (Shirky, 2008). First a dense connection is when a group of people are all connected to each other with no separation. When a message is being relayed everyone will get it. The other type of connection is a sparse connection. this links small groups together by a couple of people in common or that know each other in other groups. Shirky says for a the system to work to its full effectiveness you must use both types of connections "at different scales" (Shirky, 2008).

Something that struck me as interesting was that it was not the many smaller connections that held the system together it was the few people with many large connections that was the backbone. Shirky says "A handful of people are extremely critical to holding the whole network together, because as the network grows, the existence of a small number of highly connected individuals enables the very trade-off between connectivity and effectiveness that makes the Small World pattern work in the first place" (Shirky, 2008). After reading this I started to wounder if these few people with such a large number of connections really knew who important they were, and if they do would they do anything to disrupt the system?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Blogs in Society

Over the past couple of weeks we have been reading about blogs and its effects on the Internet, communication, and society. In Barlow, A. (2008). Blogging @merica chapter two he talks about something that is affecting our "real" world from the blogoshpere. Barlow mentions how most people view the blogger as a whining loser in "mom's basement" (Barlow, 2008). Of course many people who blog do not want to be look at in such a way. There are many people out there actively tyring to rid bloggers of this stereotype, some even tried creating a code of ethics. This caused a controversy in the blogging world, where some bloggers thought this to be a great idea and the others disagreed. Some bloggers felt that their thoughts were under attack. They would receive harassing messages and even at times death threats. Barlow points out two of these ideas in the voice of Moulitsas the founder of Daily Kos, and Clarke the author of a popular nature blog. At one point these two and their ideas crash. Moulitsas's opinion being that blogs are a place that make the forum for speaking easier because of the certain aspect of being anonymous; so people are more likely to test their thoughts. Also that because your thoughts are out there for people to read they might draw up controversy and emotions of other readers and this will cause a reaction to you. Were as Clarke states that people are putting in "real" world emotions and facts and that blogs are "an expression of real world ideas" (Barlow, 2008).

Just as Barlow states that both of these arguments have a certain truth, I strongly agree. After my new experience with blogging I can now relate to fellow bloggers and see the need for both of these types of blogging. Sometimes I feel I need to express my "real" world emotions and other times I am testing my ideas anonymously in a public forum for later use in the "real" world. This then brings the argument of content, who is posting it, and is it reliable. Barlow says that these problems in the blogosphere will continue until there is a "happy medium" were content, community, emotions, and reactions will work together.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Live Journal

For today's reading I read "shout into the wind, and it shouts back" by Lori Kendall. I found this reading to be interesting, she spoke about LiveJournals and the way people are using it now a days. A LiveJournal is similar to a blog but it contains more aspects of a social networking site. With live journals you can create a friend list and your friends who have it may read it when ever you post.

Kendall talks about an experiment that she had conducted over a two year period. She ask a group of participants what they thought of the software and why they use it. What she found out was pretty similar answers to her questions across the board. Most users were familiar with this type of software on the Internet. Also they ranged from ages of mid 20's to late 30's. These users found it easier to communicate their message to their friends using LiveJournal rather than calling people of even emailing them in some cases. I found this a little surprising because I thought that email was on of the most used tools on the Internet. Some things that the people who interviewed also commented on about live journal was that sometime it brought people or areas of their life that would normally never interact together. This would happen because your journal is connected to everyone on your friend list, so entries about work can be seen by someone in your family and vice'versa. For some people they stated that it posed a little bit of a problem when they mixed certain parts of their life together on LiveJournal that they would normally keep separate.

Before this reading I did not even know about the program LiveJournal, now i am interested in seeing what it is about. All the people who tried it seem to like it more than blogs, and even email. Even though Kendall shows that there are some problems with it like being seen by everyone even though you want it only to be seen by few; I believe that i would like this program.

Kendall, Lori. (2007). "Shout into the wind, and it shouts back." Identity and interactional tensions on LiveJournal. First Monday, 12. Retrieved on August 21, 2008 from

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

the world is changing and it is happening on my computer

The world that we live in today is forever evolving. Everyday there are new ways of traveling, eating, and communicating. We can no longer look at the world as simply vertical and horizontal according to Aaron Barlow’s Blogging @merica The New Public Sphere, but as a mixture of the two. This is especially true when it comes to the internet and the way people interact when using it.

Over the past seven days I have been observing and interacting with a political blog on the internet. My assignment was to become a part of this blogosphere and interact with other members and see what their reactions were. This proved to be exciting for me; I was never officially part of a blog where so many other members have direct access to what I say and could comment back to me. In the past I was in forums with my friends, or now in this class blog where have become friendly with most of the class who see my thoughts. In the blog that I have been observing there is nobody I really know at all. So this puts a whole new angle on the assignment for me in both a good and nervous way.

The Blog that I have chosen is called Political Punch it is a mix of any political topics going on in that day or of the days past. This blog is one of the most popular political blogs on the internet. After searching through many this is the one that I had agreed with the most because of people’s comments and how many of these comments there were per-post. Also ranked it with one of the highest authorities (most trafficked and commented on) on the site.

For the first couple of days I kept my thoughts inside and did not chose to write on any of the matters that people were discussing. After I had become used to the set up and how frequent people commented I became less nervous. The next day I decided to create a name for when I chose to make a comment on a post. I wanted this name to reflect who I was politically, so I called myself REDHOTTforPOLITICS to show which side I more agree with.

When reading Barlow’s Blogging @merica The New Public Sphere he points out many topics or ideas you can see happening in blogs. There was one particular idea that caught my interest in chapter four. Barlow talks about the idea of a vertical and a horizontal structure of web cultures, and the differences between citizen and professional journalism. These things are so easily seen in such a large political blog like Political Punch because it has so many different views and authorities. Barlow states that the best place to see an example of a vertical structure is in most organizations, because of a need of “certain efficiency” (Barlow, 2008). This means a person or leader at the top makes all decisions and then delegates tasks to the rest of his people. On the other hand there is a horizontal structure which works better for internet users and blogs, because there is no chain of command people work together to make it work. I found an immediate clash of these two ideas as soon as I started on the site. Political Punch is a blog that comes from ABC NEWS a vertical structure. On the other hand it is a blog that is horizontal because it depends on the thoughts of a group for it to become successful. Since Political Punch is such a visited and commented on blog I think they owe their success to the combination of the two structures. In my opinion political blogs are like a battle field of people's ideas. So what ABC does is challenge some of these people’s ideas in the blog which spark comments and therefore creates more “Battle” or debate.

On the site ABC NEWS have one man Jake Tapper a senior national correspondent post his blogs at least once a day, and they give the opportunity for groups or any person to respond. I found myself ready to comment on the blog when reading about president elect Obama’s ideas for a missile defense system in eastern Europe. I jumped in giving my opinion and actually starting a large debate, which was exactly what I was worried about. Surprisingly people seemed to be on my side. This went on until someone with the name pefros started to argue with everyone. I found this interesting in the sense that he thinks he is better and knows more about everything than everybody else. This is exactly what Barlow mentions with the citizens journalist. Just because this person has the right to spread their thoughts doesn't mean they are right. As Barlow says “anyone with the means can enter into journalism; they do not need to prove themselves first.” (Barlow, 2008). Then I thought wait was I not doing the same thing as pefros when I said what I had to say. This made me think that it is only human nature to express your opinion to try and show you are right. With so many people on political blogs they are either on your side or against you and it only fuels a person even more to engage in this “battle”.

With the ease of access to the internet and people being more computer ready than before it changes the way people communicate with each other. This is clear when looking at blogs and other media like this. People now have more means of a public outlet to get their opinion across. Even though this builds a new category of information and with this information we now have to ask how trust worthy or legitimate is it.

Barlow, A. (2008). Bloggin America: The New Public Sphere. Westport: Praeger Publishers.

Technorati. (n.d.). Retrieved November 06, 2008, from

Oh how the mighty have fallen

Today I clearly saw what Barlow spoke about in chapter four, when he said that organizations are vertical and blogs are horizontal. In my blog Political Punch today the main writer spoke about veterans day and how Obama was not one but still received much support from the public. Other bloggers commented on what he said and completely took the opposite stand point. this goes back to the real journalist vs. the internet ones. I can clearly see a opposition of power and I think thats what makes this one of the most popular political blogs online.