Tuesday, October 21, 2008

evaluation of internet research

In today’s easy accessible world information is just a click away, but how good is that information to you and how credible is it? It is our job as researchers to figure out how well an article can suite you before using it. My classmates and I are doing a project on a Web 2.0 communication media and in this part of our project we have to conduct the initial research for our final Web 2.0 project. With the help of Bonnie L. Tensen’s work in Research strategies for a digital age chapter five I am able to find more reliable and credible information by questioning who, what, where, when, to whom, and why about articles.

Doing research is like an experiment you start with a hypothesis or topic of research and through a process of elimination and deductive reasoning you find your answer or the correct information. For my research of Web 2.0 technologies I will be conducting research on the social networking site Facebook. I will be using a number of different search engines as well as library databases to find my information. With the information from Tensen’s research I will be able to effectively decide which site and articles are best for me and most credible.

I first wanted to look and see if I could get any credible information by searching just the word “Facebook”. I decided to use Google as my search engine because this is what I am ingrained to using when looking for things on the internet. Now as I expected I there was not that many things that looked so appealing to my needs for credible information. Actually most of the things that had came up were for signing up for Facebook or about it applications descriptions. When scrolling down though there was one link that caught my eye Facebook company profile, this looked to be a website with some credibility. After reading it is saw that there were many topics of relevant information that I could use for my research, but when I looked at the sources only some were credible while, the others any person on the internet could add their name or comment to say that they had written this information. This is not a source that I would likely include in my final presentation. Since this was the only thing that I could find from this type of search I decided it was not relevant for my needs and moved on using one of the tips Tensen says to use about Google’s advanced search.

I went onto Google and clicked advanced search preferences; with this I was able to pick a topic specific search engine just as Tensen had stated. I picked a scholar search this is one of the options that Google gives you. Also I now narrowed my search by looking for “Facebook uses” in the key words. I felt that by doing this I will be able to find more information on my topic and its uses, I thought correctly. Upon first look I saw many articles and links that might be able to help me. I found many articles on the topic of its up and coming popularity. There were a few articles that I thought could help me Benefits of Facebook , Facebook and its affects, Facebook Meets the Virtualized Enterprise, and motives and use of facebook. After looking at all of these articles it looked like this way of searching was foolproof in finding scholarly information considering that I would have use for both of these documents. When continuing my search I found that not all of these were credible, There is no place like ... community 2.0 looked to me as if it was a college assignment that ended up on the internet. So I found that even though I used Google’s scholarly search it was still possible for someone to find spurious information. When evaluating your research on the internet Tensen states that it is very important to look over very carefully the “purpose, reputation, intended audience, reliability, appearance and timeliness” (Tensen, 2004). Without these things the value of your information and research is zero.

After taking what Tensen say into account I went on to my next search engine The Internet Public Library. When I first got onto this site I saw many ways of finding the necessary information I needed. So as Tensen say you should first make yourself familiar with the tools of the website and did by exploring what it had to offer. I found this site very easy to use and seemed helpful. You can search for information by using a ready reference, (almanacs, dictionaries, and encyclopedias) reading room, (books, magazines, and newspapers) or their subject collections. When I finally got to start my search and looked up “Facebook uses” like I did before nothing came up. So then I made my search more general and still received nothing. This seemed to be a futile effort so I abandoned my search and went to try a new site.

I then tried Alta Vista, and used its advanced search like I had done with Google. In this advanced search I was able to input some parameters that I thought would help me in finding a superior site. I made the search take the in factor of date and time relevance, considering that Facebook is a new form of social media I would want the most recent and most prevalent information. What I found though were many things explaining what to use Facebook for in a business stand point not for what it does, Using Facebook for marketing. Not only was this not the right information I was looking for but after evaluating what it was using Tensen’s methods I realized that it was not for me and the information was anything but credible. For this document it was geared toward people who own a business and want to start advertising, also the information was linked to something that appeared to be a blog of sorts. This was not something I would find useful to reference in my final project.

I ended my search for information on Facebook by using the school’s library databases. In our library there are many different types of databases so I decided to use the one geared toward communication (this helps me find articles with more relevance to my topic) Com Abstracts. In this search I used the same keywords as before “Facebook uses” and a plethora of what seemed to be applicable articles came up. I found articles like The Role of Friends' Appearance and Behavior on Evaluations of Individuals on Facebook: Are We Known by the Company We Keep?. This was a great article it had everything I was looking for it was published in 2008, it looked at Facebook and how people use it, comes from a credible source, and has a broad audience. There were two others like this that I thought were helpful, GROOMING, GOSSIP, FACEBOOK AND MYSPACE, and The Benefits of Facebook "Friends:" Social Capital and College Students' Use of Online Social Network Sites. Both of these sites talked about the history of Facebook and what it has become for people using it and how it will affect the future. This is exactly what I needed to proceed on the next part of my project, and this was the easiest way for me to find out information I found this database to be the most effective for me.

The World Wild Web can be a tricky and dangerous place if you do not know what you are doing. After going through this information gathering process and with the help from Tensen I was able to find and distinguish credible and relevant information for my purpose. Also I was able to find out what was the easiest and most efficient way of gathering data for me was.


Tensen, Bonnie L. (2004). Research strategies for a digital age (chapter 5). Boston: Wadsworth

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Hey how did you get my information?

For today’s reading I read “Searching issues of Privacy” by Michael Zimmer, in the article I noticed some new and interesting controversies about web 2.0, search 2.0 and its components. Zimmer talks about the ultimate search engine and the possibilities that it could have on our day to day activities. When speaking about the “perfect search engine” you have to consider the two parts it needs to function perfectly. Zimmer states that not only should this perfect search engine come back with a perfect answer to your question every time but it should accomplish this task with “perfect recall”. Perfect recall is essential Zimmer says because, “web search engines must be able to identify and understand searchers’ intellectual wants, needs and desires when they perform information seeking tasks online” (Zimmer, 2008, volume 13). In order for this to occur the privacy of your information is now open to these “perfect search engines” to better obtain an understanding of what you would like to find. Your online activities are now available for public viewing (Google search yourself and see what comes up).

After reading what Zimmer had to say I had to ask myself is the cost of readily available information on the “world wild web” really worth some of my private information. Now that people have information posted on such web 2.0 programs as Facebook or wikis you can easily find out their information by doing a Google search on them. This intern may have a negative or positive effect on someone. I personally have not been affected but know of someone who has. When applying for a job last year this person was denied at the last stage of the interview process because of things that were deemed to be unfit for the position. When the person found out why they did not get the job, they ask how they found out that information because it was considered private, and the employer said that it was a matter of public information on the internet. With the advancement of search engines today we get closer to that image of a “perfect search engine”, but you now have to ask yourselves is the juice worth the squeeze?


Zimmer, Michael. (2008). The externalities of search 2.0: The emerging privacy threats when the drive for the perfect search engine meets web 2.0. First Monday, 13. Retrieved August 21, 2008 from http://www.uic.edu/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/2136/1944.