Thursday, February 26, 2009

Net11 Reflections

Well I have come to the end of my journey for Net 11, and what a ride it has been.

For me, this study period and Net11, has been an enjoyable, yet challenging, introduction to Internet Studies. Like many others in the group, I thought this unit would be a relative stroll through park, or Internet if you like, boy was I wrong. A lot of the material I have covered previously, whether through work or day to day mucking around on the Internet over the years. Yet when working through the material, I constantly found new things, new ways of looking at old things and was generally forced to really think about the way we, I, communicate on the Internet and what that truly means.

New becomes old and old becomes new
As a result of this I have explored many new technologies and found many new ways to share, and communicate what I have discovered: Twitter, Delicious and Blogs all spring instantly to mind. I have been exposed to fantastic concepts such as the Networked Student and The Machine is Us/ing Us. Seriously, check these out!

I have explored social networks and what impact they have on modern relationships and how they allow people to communicate on an intimate level with friends and family. In fact I think over the course of my studies this will probably be something which pops up again and again. I have explored old technologies such as IRC and Usenet which helped shape the early days on the Internet, and I have come to understand that without these legacy protocols, then many of the tools I have previously mentioned may not exist today.

Now as I rummage around the corners of the net, I feel my eyes and mind are more open and I am further aware of the power the Internet holds. I feel that I can see more of the potential the Internet holds for change to social interactions and the way we do business. This is an exciting time and I relish the fact that I am here, now, discovering all these things.

The human side of learning
Finally for me, and probably most importantly, this unit has been about the interaction with my fellow students. Whether this has been via Twitter or WebCT (oh how I loathe you) or each of our blogs. The communication and interaction has been amazing. The ideas we have shared, the help which has been forthcoming, it all has been amazing. In fact fellow Net11 student Tim Kennington made the comment in his blog "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". I think that remark alone says volumes on how far this group has come with communicating on the Internet.

That's it for me, Net11 is done. See you in Net12.

Module 5 - Peer To Peer

Peer to Peer is such a complex and large issue. In fact it's so large that estimates are that Peer to Peer (predominantly BitTorrent) makes up nearly 55% of all Internet traffic (that is depending where you are located). This is enormous amounts of data that is being shared daily across the globe.

Yet to me it's not the sharing of files, or the enormity of the amount of data shared. For me it's what is happening at this very moment with the attack against civil liberties online, all under the premise of protection of IP.

At this time there are three major occurrences in the online world which should have all netizens worried.

Things to watch
  1. Spectrial - The Pirate Bay vs IFPI. Check this out.
  2. AFACT vs iiNet - This case could decide whether a private company (your ISP) is required to act as the police and monitor your usage of the Internet based on the claims of another private enterprise without any criminal charges.
  3. Section 92A - The New Zealand Government introduces harsh new legislation which essentially says "Guilt upon Accusation" when it comes to file sharing.

The outcomes of these cases and changes to law will impact not on the pirates and the Peer to Peer networks, they will just find another way to share files, but on the everyday user of the Internet.

So I'm not going to get into the legality of sharing files and the supposed death of the music and film industries. I'm not going to get into how Peer to Peer can actually increase CD sales and increase an artists concert takings. What I am going to ask you is: Go out and actually explore both sides of the arguments, look beyond the rhetoric and see for yourself how this can affect, will affect your ability to use the internet, to communicate in new ways and discover new things.

This is your Internet we are talking about here, and while you may think these have things have no bearing on you cause, "I don't share files", think again friend.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Module 5 - Information Ecologies

I must admit reading about the idea of an Information Ecology was both difficult and frustrating, yet engaging and informative at the same time. In many ways though I see how this module is the peak of the unit truly drawing together all that has come before it. I just wish that I had done this before my concepts assignment.

Multifunctional, cross purpose tool?
So this idea of an information ecology has made me see the Internet in more than just one way. I could say at the start of this Study Period I simply thought of the Internet as a tool, albeit a magical wonderful tool with more functions than a Swiss Army knife, yet to me it was still essentially a tool. In fact early one, I made this blog post stating how I saw the Internet. Now I have come to realise how much more the Internet is (I did have an inkling prior to this), and can see how it evolves, what it does do to help us as we communicate.

I found Felix Stadler's paper Information Ecology particulary enlightening regarding the development of the information ecology and how it relates to Internet communication today. Where Stalder's paper focused on the nodes as being large corporations and government bodies, information has evolved and the nodes have now become the users themselves, interacting with the information, processing it, changing it, sharing it back (Stadler, 1997).

So it is as we add new web apps, new ways of looking at information, or communicating and interacting with one another, we change the Internet ourselves. Possibly the best example of this now is the advent of social media and the opportunity people now have to participate and share information, becoming that LIVE node in the network.

Communicate, communicate, participate
Key to this information ecology is the Internets intrinsic power of communication and subsequent participation. It is these aspects which allows us to advance, helping the information ecology to flourish. I have personally found this power over the course of Net11. As new tools have opened up to me allowing me to participate in communicating ideas and concepts, share experiences and knowledge that I have seen how much more the Internet is, than just a tool.

So now I have a new idea to think over further, and with Net12 around the corner, I'm sure I will get that opportunity. Before then though, I recommend reading fellow Net11 student Duane's blog post on Information Ecologies. He really has hit the nail on the head.

Stadler, Felix (1997). Information Ecology. Retrieved February 22, 2009 from

So Frustrating I could Cry

So my concepts assignment is in and locked away (well and truly), yet now as I trawl the net as part of the research for modules 4 and 5 I have come across a number of sites which have further supported my concepts. Doh!

Oh why oh why is this so? Is it that my understanding of the concepts has grown and now I'm more aware of that which is around me? Or did I rush to get the concepts finished prior to a wedding and three weeks away from school?

Really, I suppose it could be a bit of both.

What did I find then...
The four concepts that I focused on were The Invisibility of Difference, Privacy and Security, Hypertext: Links or Structure and Information and Attention. Below are some examples of what I have come across.

In Privacy and Security I mentioned Jim Dempsey's comments about people presenting different aspects of themselves AFK in different social settings, different persona's so to speak, so why not online? Now I have found, a social networking site which allows you to bring all your online contacts and the like into one space and, create multiple persona's for various social groups; work, family, friends and the like. Cool!

In Information and Attention I talked about annotated search and the Google's SearchWiki project. This allows users to annotate search results for future reference and move more relevant search results to the top of the search. I mentioned that this type of social search would be the way of the future and also pointed to sites such as Delicious. Now I have found two such sites which all ready exist where users can rank the relevance of search results for future users and their searches. and Umibozu both provide this feature, and while not yet challenging Google, they are both challenging the concepts of search and relevancy.

Really what a dumbarse!
That's all I really wanted to share, I do feel a bit of a dumbarse for missing these nuggets, yet I know that 12 weeks ago these concepts would have been foreign to me and I would not have given any of these sites a second thought in the terms of implications of the development of the web and communication online.

Really I've come along way. Viva Le Net11!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Module 4 - Evaluating The Web

As a part of the Concepts assignment I was introduced, in no uncertain terms, to the concept of evaluating and annotating my reference sites. At the time I really thought nothing of it and felt it was more a waste of time rather than to my benefit; really why couldn't those 200 words be better used writing ABOUT the concept.

Now with the assignment behind me and finally completing Module 4, I have come to truly appreciate and understand the need for this type of evaluation and annotation. As a direct result, I have become more and more reliant on tagging my bookmarks and writing a brief annotation about the page, if needed. In this manner I have began to really manage the information presented to me and cross reference it for future use.

What really intrigues me though, more and more online resources are allowing Internet users to do this quickly and easily. From social bookmarking with Delicious, Diigo's text highlighting or Google's SearchWiki feature. Browsers are even getting more in on the deal with Firefox now auto suggesting popular tags for sites and allowing notes (annotations) in bookmarks. It seems that information management is really starting to come to the fore.

So as we move forward on the Internet, these type of features are definitly becoming essential to manage the vast amount of information presented to us, and how we use these tools becomes even more important.