Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Web and You: A Guide to Participation - Internet, Web, Blog, Facebook Dan Anda

In 2006, Time magazine named You as the Person of the Year with the comment: "Yes, you. You control the Information Age. Welcome to your world."
This tutorial will explain how you - yes, you - can participate in and therefore control your experience of the Web. The Web allows anyone with an Internet connection to join in. (Unfortunately, some of this capability is blocked in certain countries.) With the proper tools, you can create content either alone or collaboratively, share your content, and comment on the content of others. There are various terms used to describe this phenomenon, including web 2.0, the social web, the read-write web. The topic is huge. This tutorial is intended as a brief introduction to the lay of the land.
It's interesting to watch as the content of the social Web is entering the mainstream of the Web experience. For example, blog posts can be found in search engine results. The search engine Bing indexes Twitter content in order to provide up-to-the-minute results, and Facebook status updates are in the works. This brings up the importance of the social Web to the real-time web. It is becoming increasingly important to the development of the Web to present real-time, or near real-time, content.
A large factor in interacting with the Web is having access to the Web at any time and any place. The Web and its functionalities are becoming increasingly mobile. While laptop computers have been around for years, the focus now is on cell phones connected to the Web. The iPhone is just one example of a device that allows people to take the Web with them wherever they go to access Web sites, social networks, search engines, and location-based information. Mobile phones can keep us connected to the networked world with ever-expanding capabilities.
tip! To keep up with the latest developments, check out the suggested sources on Keeping Current.

First, a word about security and safety

The Web has sometimes been referred to as the Wild Wild Web. As the Web becomes more open to user interaction, dangers can be lurking. Computer viruses of various types, identity theft, bogus e-mail messsages and Web sites, and predators, are just a few of the dangers you might encounter.
When you interact with strangers on the Web, proceed with caution. Don't automatically trust what you see or who you encounter. There are many sites on the Web that can help you become aware of potential dangers and provide guidelines for dealing with them. For an example, check out the useful Internet Safety Project.

Social networking sites

Facebook social networking sites are online communities in which members interact. In fact, everything covered in this tutorial involves social networking of some sort. A site that specializes in social networking is focused on making connections among its users. The activities may be limited to one activity or interest, such as sharing videos, to multiple activities such as creating a personal profile, posting your current activity or state of mind, making "friends", engaging in discussions, joining groups, sending messages, sharing photos, and so on. Social networking can involve individuals or institutions, and can be used for recreational, informational, academic, and professional purposes.
Examples: Facebook, MySpace, FriendFeed, LibraryThing, LinkedIn, Digg
Interactivity among social networking sites is evolving. This means that you can share content, friends, and activities among many sites. Streamy is an example of a site that gathers the activities and shared items of you and your friends from numerous social networking sites.
It is becoming easier to share content from around the Web. Let's say you have read an article that you want to share on your Facebook account. Web sites, especially blog and news sites, sometimes offer an easy way to post this content to the social networking site of which you are a member. Here is an example of the many sharing options featured on a technology blog. If you have an account on any of these services, you can share the posting there with just a few clicks. The ShareThis application is shown in the example below.

Blogs and the phenomenon of comments

A blog is a journal entry system organized around postings about which readers can comment. Entries are usually organized with the most recent postings first. The word "blog" comes from "Weblog" because a blog consists of a Web-based signed and dated log of individual postings. Blogs often focus on personal narratives or opinion and are usually maintained by single individuals. However, there are also plenty of blogs maintained by groups of people who share the same interests or expertise.
Examples: TechCrunch, The New Old Age, Climate411
The social nature of blogs comes from reader responses to the blog author's postings. These are known as comments. Readers can respond not only to postings, but also to their comments, resulting in a lively conversation. Most comments are written in text. However, video comments are also possible. For example, the TechCrunch blog uses Seesmic for this purpose.
Blogger Anyone can start a blog for free. Take a look at Wordpress and Blogger for a couple of examples. If you rent space on a Web server, you can download blog software and run your own customized blog. Some excellent blog software is available at no cost, including WordPress and MovableType.
Technorati and Google Blog Search are two useful search engines for locating content posted to blogs.
Twitter microblogging is also popular. This is exemplified by Twitter. With Twitter, you can create an account and blog in spurts of up to 140 characters. Also, excerpted postings or headlines from "regular" blogs can be sent automatically to your Twitter account. For an example, visit the TechCrunch page on Twitter. With a Twitter account, you can choose to "follow" other members and receive their "tweets" on your own page. Twitter is used by the famous and non-famous alike for recreational, professional, commercial, and informational purposes. Twitter's trending topics provide a real-time look at comments on subjects of current interest. Below is an example of a few tweets.
As with many other social networking sites, a universe of creative tools have been built by the Web community to enhance the Twitter experience. For example, check out 99 Essential Twitter Tools and Applications from Smashing Magazine.
The phenomenon of blogs has helped to advance the practice of commenting across the Web. In fact, one hallmark of the social Web is the option for public comment. For example, you can comment on YouTube videos and Flickr photos. Many news sites offer their readers the option to comment on stories. Commenting is showing up in all kinds of Web sites and in all kinds of contexts, so be on the lookout for opportunities.
The nature of any comment you make is up to you. Comments can range from polite to insulting and anything in between. Below is an example of comments from the news sharing site iReport.
Even search engines are getting into the action. The search engine includes user voting and comments to help rank its results.


Wikipedia A wiki is a publishing platform on which many people can contribute new content and revise existing content. The content benefits from the collective knowledge of the contributors, so wikis can be very beneficial for group projects. Some businesses and organizations use wikis to maintain documents. Wikis allow visitors to view the history of page edits. For this reason, wikis are an excellent option for hosting documents that need ongoing edits or updates. Entire books can be publised on a wiki; for examples, visit Wikibooks.
As with blogs, anyone can start a wiki for free. Two options are PBwiki and Wikidot.
Examples: Wikipedia, Digital Research Tools, EduTech Wiki
tip! Some people get confused about the differences between blogs and wikis. For a useful discussion, see the Blogs and Wikis page at the University at Albany Libraries.

Social bookmarking sites

Delicious social bookmarking allows you to save articles, news stories, blog postings, etc. from the Web and organize them into folders and/or tags. (See below for a discussion about tags.) The addition of new bookmarks can often be followed with an RSS feed; see the tutorial RSS Basics for more information.
A benefit of social bookmarking is the fact that your bookmarks are online, rather than on your local computer. With Web-based bookmarking, you can access your bookmarks from anywhere. The aspect of public sharing is also important.
Examples: Delicious, CiteULike, Connotea


YouTube Multimedia is a prominent part of the social Web. Users create audio and video files and share them with the public. Photo sharing is also a popular activity on the social Web. There are also TV broadcasts, radio stations, and Web cams set up by users. On many multimedia sharing sites, users are invited to post comments. For more details about this phenomenon, see the tutorial on Multimedia.
Examples: Flickr, YouTube,, iReport

Real-time chat and phone calls

Real-time communication on the social Web is big. Here we'll briefly cover chat/instant messaging and Web-based phone calls.
The terms chat and instant messaging (im) are sometimes used interchangeably, and refer to the real-time communication between people through typing and other means. With chat and instant messaging, a user on the Web can contact another user currently logged in to the same service and start a conversation. Multiple people can join a chat, and everyone can see each new message as it comes in. Chat is sometimes included as a feature of a Web site, where users can log into the chat room to exchange comments and information about the topic in the particular room.
meebo You can download IM software onto your computer, or use the chat function sometimes offered on the software creator's Web site. Most famous is America Online's (AOL) Instant Messenger, but there are many others. Pidgin and Meebo are examples of chat programs that integrate the chat functionality of several individual services. Some chat software can be embedded on your Web page so that your visitors can easily chat with you. To the right is a screen shot of the embedded Meebo widget.
video chat is also an option. For example, people who use Google's GMail can engage in voice and video chat. More enhanced programs offer a combination of text chat, voice, and video communication. This capability allows people to conference and collaborate in real time. Such features as whiteboarding, document sharing, and collaborative browsing can also be available. This is often referred to as conferencing software.
Examples: Meebo and Meebo Rooms, AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), Yahoo! Messenger, Pidgin
Finally, you can also make phone calls on the Web. Skype is a service that allows you to do this for free. All you need is a microphone and the Skype software downloaded to your computer and the computer of your companion. If you have a Web cam, you can make video calls.


How can you organize your content on the social Web? One way is with tags. People who create or share content on social networking sites often have the option of assigning topic words to their content. These are known as tags. Tags can help organize content into concepts or categories. With so much information on the Web, topical labeling can be useful. Once tags have been assigned, users can then click on a tag of interest and see all the content assigned to that tag.
The choice of tag words is up to the creator. This is one of the drawbacks of tags: different people use different tags to describe similar content. However, it is possible for people to get together and agree on common tags to describe similar content.
The use of tags is showing up in many contexts, as many social networking sites offer its members the option to assign tags to their content. You, too, can be a part of the tagging phenomenon! Tags are especially popular on blogs and social bookmarking sites. The online reference management tool Zotero allows users to organize citations with tags. Also check out the display of popular tags on Flickr. This type of display is known as a tag cloud. The larger the font assigned to the tag, the more often the tag has been assigned. The tag cloud below is derived from a technology blog.
tag cloud
There are many ways to implement tags. Check out The Tagging Toolbox: 30+ Tagging Tools from the blog Mashable. Here you'll find tools for creating, displaying, and viewing tags, both online and offline.


Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Design by Free WordPress Themes | Bloggerized by Lasantha - Premium Blogger Themes | cna certification