Wednesday, March 31, 2004

The digital divide should be a concern for everyone working in technology, but believing there exists merely a single divide to overcome is equally dangerous. The digital divide refers to everything from the possession of more computers by the “rich” than by the “poor,” or of one ethnic group over another. The digital divide also discusses the comfort level of computer users – again skewed towards more affluent social groups having more comfort and knowledge than the less affluent. All of these variations on a theme revolve around the fact that people of a lower income tend to not have computers. Getting computers in the hands of these people will help educate them about computers, convince them the need to have access to a computer, and close the divide.

As the study we read last week pointed out, exposure to computers at work dramatically increased the likelihood of computer ownership at home. It is true that in some circumstances the existence of those home computers could be something these people are required to have as part of their occupation, but it’s also possible that simple exposure to the power of computing convinced these people that having a home computer was worth the expense of purchasing one.

If people can be convinced to buy computers by exposing them to computers, it would follow that the best way to close the digital divide is to find a way to expose members of the purchasing public – those people with the buying power to actually purchase a computer – to the machines. This goes against other strategies where computers are put in classrooms to expose children to them. Children do need the exposure to computers, however they lack the buying power to actually purchase one. If they are unable to convince their parents of the necessity – and convincing the “unexposed” of the benefits of owing a computer is a difficult task for anyone – their household will continue to go without a computer. Perhaps a better strategy would be to provide exposure to computers not only to children but also to the adult members of demographics that typically don’t have them.

One problem with this idea stems from the fact that these people might not have the skills necessary to “run” the computers they are exposed to. It might be possible to solve this problem by providing training and exposure simultaneously though informal evening classes taught through community centers, churches, neighborhood associations, local schools, or libraries.

Another problem involves the issues surrounding the cost of computers, and the possibility that no matter what certain individuals’ desire may be they simply will not be able to afford a computer. This concern, though worth noting, isn’t anywhere near as valid as it was even a few years ago. The most common tasks performed on computers today are checking and sending email, browsing the Web, using an instant messenger, performing simple calculations or typing a document. Top of the line computers in today’s market cost approximately $3000 depending on manufacturer. Computers from five years ago are more than capable of performing the above tasks and cost roughly $200 – if they can’t be found for free. A program of recycling old computers by donation would help solve the problem of them “unaffordable at any price.”

I feel as though the most important digital divide to overcome is that of low income v. moderate/high income. Those in the lower income often don't have a choice whether or not they use computers/the internet. With outreach towards those in lower income families, the other digital divides will be greatly effected. Children in low income families are likely to be those who live in less finacially supported schools, which is why they may not be "plugged in." it appears as though many of the low income families are in the south, and therefor, the north/south debate be tackled. Minorities, single parents, and disabled people, who may have a lower level of education, and therefor likely a lower income as well, will be brought into technology. Income is the ost important aspect of the digital divide, because closing the divide has potential to help with the problems of low income. Education for low income families could provide newer, safer oppertunities for employment through technology based marketable skills. Low income children could use knowledge they develop at a young age to help them with their outlook for the future. A big concern for those in need of education is childcare. I believe that their ought to be a training program that fits the lives of those who have a lot on their plate already. there could be neighboorhood sites of training or free transportation to nearby training sites, free childcare for those who are unable to afford a babysitter, or have children with special needs, and training that can accomodate for the special needs of trainees.
People would likely find an initiative like this as idealistic, and not realistic. sure, targeting other groups might be cheaper or easier, but I feel as though this approach has more long term effects than targeting smaller demographics.

In terms of the digital divide, I personally think there are two factors which help to distinguish the huge difference. Education and class are both indicators of why the digital divide is where it is today. Education is a primary key in determining if a person is going to rely on technology, specifically the internet for resources and those who do not decide to further their education after high school are limiting themselves unless they specifically make an effort to go out of their way to learn more about different technological resources. Class is also a large determinant in the digital divide because there are thousands of people who do not have the internet available to them within their community. I completely agree with what Katrina stated about how libraries and community centers within these neighborhoods should encourage free internet use for students within their own community.
In response to our Mindstorms article today, I somewhat agree with Papert Seymour in making an effort to integrate different computer programs in schools to help children advance their learning skills. I have always thought we should make sure kids do not forget what it is be like to be a kid such as playing with friends outside, etc. But now that I think about it, it would be possible for kids to enjoy themselves, but also learn a little about computers at an early age if it could actually adavance their learning skills. This could also help the digital divide in terms of education if children are exposed to these resources as early as elementary school.

I think the most pressing digital divide is one of color. In the video, everyone working in the factory is “of color,” according to one of the employees, while the majority of the computers are shipped off to affluent white people.

As Winner illustrated pretty clearly, an increase in the sheer supply of info available out there online is not sufficient for kick-starting some kind of social revolution. Those with the means for best using the info will be most benefited by it – which explains why the white American has made far better use of the Internet than any of the country’s minority groups.

For example, various online publications (, bbc news, NAACP online) reported that the election was essentially stolen from Gore (and all of the minorities that voted for him). However, since the majority of minorities are not online, they could do nothing with this information. How’s that for empowerment? Also, the more information that’s out there, the easier it is for those in power to say, “Oh, that’s just unsubstantiated crap from some online source.”

Three things, equally important, should be done: (1) Minorities need to be convinced that technology is important both to their short-term and long-term livelihood, (2) Technology needs to be made accessible to them, and (3) An effective method of teaching them the not-so-complicated skills of using technology needs to be implemented.

For one and three, simple books without all the technical jargon could be of some help. Especially since they could be made available in other languages. As for (2), I honestly don’t know. The passing of time alone reduces the costs of technology, but that’s not enough. I have the sense that if a great idea for (2) existed, it would have been at least tried already. But maybe I’m wrong. Either way, I don’t have the solution to that one.


The motivation behind overcoming the digital divide might be broken down into three reasons: so that people can:
1. gain skills necessary for jobs, especially higher-paying jobs
2. access information more easily and that they could not otherwise
3. participate in society, nationally and globally (provide information in addition to just accessing information)

These reasons are in order of attainability -- one must be achieved before two, etc., because if someone does not have adequate skill with computers they will not be able to access information or participate. Accessing information is not necessarily gained immediately with computer skills though, because a person might still have no access to the Internet, or very restricted access (as at work, for example). Beyond access to information is the provision of information, or participation, and this would require greater skill and support than mere access (ex. a more reliable Internet connection, web design skills and software, leisure time).

In the recent report, economic factors are shown to play a major role in the digital divide. People with lower incomes do not tend to have computers, and this may be because they cannot afford a computer, or because they are not typically trained on computers at work. Because people with low incomes are several times more likely to get a computer at home if they use one at work compared to people who do not use computers at work, it is apparent that having some experience and skill with computers is important to encouraging more people to get computers at home.

This order in goals and the connection between having some computer experience and bridging the divide shows that the focus of efforts to reduce the digital divide should be first on skill-building and providing opportunities to gain experience with computers and the Internet. Using computers in schools, then, is helpful, as are free workshops in public libraries and targeted programs like Plugged In.

Judging by the most recent survey, it seems that the U.S. is on its way to achieving the first goal, though efforts should still be focused on providing computer skills. The second goal might be helped if we made Internet access a utility, like phone service. This would be ideal for insuring that most people could access information, but providing more public access would be a help, even if it would not allow people to access all the information they wanted (ex. banking information from public workstations might not be safe). If people are restricted to public workstations, it is likely that the third goal -- participation via the Internet -- would be insignificant. In order to participate in a meaningful way on the Internet, people would need more time than is often available at public workstations, and probably more software or skills.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Digital determinists have long welcomed the
advent of the digital revolution as a means
to improve our society. Our readings have
stated that digital technology should help
eliminate barriers and problems that ail us.
Unfortunately, technology has had a polarizing
Effect on some of those who are suppose to
benefit from it.

I would like to argue that education is the digital
divide that deserves our attention the most.
According to statistics published on the
NTIA’s 2002 report, less educated people
are less likely to be connected. By the
numbers, about 85 percent of people
with bachelor degrees use computer; 81
percent have Internet access. On the other
hand, less educated people (i.e. some high
school education) use computers at alarmingly
lower rates. According to the report, 17 percent
use computers; 12 percent are online.

If technologies such as computer and the Internet
are the way of the future, and enormously beneficial,
why are these statistics so appalling? It is obvious
that education (of lack thereof) has become a barrier
in times of technological advancement.

A solution to this problem lies in education itself.
If we can have better educated people, these
numbers would definitely improve.

I say it’s a class divide (merely for sake of argument and to pretend I’m a socialist). As pointed out in the video and somewhat indicated in the study, those who have money and power tend to hoard money and power – despite the internet’s promise of democracy and equality. Like the Sand Hill Road race in the movie, most everyone started out on equal footing on the internet, but once the venture capitalists came in it all went downhill. No one can compete with this kind of money and power. As the director of Plugged In said, the territories on the net are not available to the poor.

This may be confused with race. Race is a determinant of making less money, as Raj (think that was his name?) said in the video, noticing that “almost everyone is of color” at the factory -- but instead of a black and white divide, “it is a potluck of color.” These people work – without much pay or union organization – to create the computers that we are using to write these outlines. But until race is thought of as class, with other disadvantaged races, the problem won't be properly addressed. The invisible underclass, working in a “high tech sweatshop” – without proper safety standards – allows us to enjoy the internet and computers.

It is this divide, between one’s propensity to labor in creating technology correlated to one’s propensity to enjoy such technology that is most stark. The small percentage of household incomes over $75,000 who don’t use the internet is nearly equal to the 23 percent of household incomes under $15,000 that do. The solution is to raise the ability of this disadvantaged class of people to pay for computers. Public libraries, work, etc will not alleviate the digital divide as the freedom to use a computer in different environments varies widely. Raising the minimum wage, affordable housing, etc, are the types of solutions that enable those who are less advantaged to more easily pay for necessities, allowing them to then consider connecting to the internet. It’s constantly said that one needs an address and phone number to apply for a job, when will the email address be added to this list? We need to raise the standard of living before this occurs, before this cycle of poverty is further entrenched by technology.

The digital divide that I think is most significant is the divide among students, albeit college, high school or elementary. Among 18-24 year olds, 85% of those in college use Internet daily while only 52% of non-students use the Internet daily. Another interesting statistic is that among children (up to age 17), there are drastic differences in home Internet use between the upper and lower income. For those in homes with a household income of $75,000+, Internet use at home is 83%. In homes with a household income of $15,000 and lower, only a mere 21% have Internet use at home.

This is especially significant because it increases the gap in education between upper and lower income individuals. It is primarily middle and upper class individuals that are able to attend college and they are further advantaged by having exposure and thus use of the Internet. This gap begins early on between the classes as elementary, middle and high school students in lower income homes have a 60% less chance of having Internet access at home. They are then disadvantaged when it comes to school projects, research and other learning experiences. This lesser education will carry over into less lower class individuals in college and the cycle will continue. This problem needs to be addressed at the lowest levels to ensure this does not continue.

This is a difficult problem to address and there is no easy solution. Students from low-income families need to be continually exposed to computers and the Internet at school, as this is where they are most likely getting exposure. Community centers and libraries in these neighborhoods should encourage their free Internet use for student use. When new computers are purchased and/or donated to these public institutions, old computers can be given away or sold at reduced rates to low income families so children can be exposed at home, as well as at school.

The most critical digital divide needing closing is the 60.2 percent of adults with a high school diploma and no further education that are not connected to the Internet. This number can be compared to less than 30 percent of people who have attended “some college” but remain among “the unconnected.”

Another way of saying this is that high school graduates who do not go on to some sort of college are unlikely (less than half are) to be connected to the Internet. Of course, as the report illustrates earlier, these educational attainment numbers must be correlated with other demographic statistics, most notably income. Especially since the report goes on to say that of the “unconnected” population, an overwhelming amount “households that were younger than 45 years of age, less educated, or unemployed all identified ‘too expensive’ as the most important reason for non-connectivity.”

I say this “education” gap is the most critical gap with the understanding that education and income are hopelessly intertwined, and therefore both are the most critical gap. However, the education gap is a more appropriate choice because, in my opinion, as a society, we increasingly are marginalizing the groups of people who chose not or cannot afford to “purchase” education beyond a high school level. Even in the classifieds you see an increasing number of advertisements with the phrase “degree required.” Combine that with the fact that over 40 percent of people say they use the internet at work. Finally, consider that fully 25 percent of those people who are online use the internet for “Employment Searches.” When these three factors add up, you can begin to see how getting a job quickly becomes a catch-22 for those who did not attend college. You can’t get a job because you don’t have a degree. Because you don’t haven’t attended college, you probably don’t have the internet to help you look for jobs. You can’t get the internet because you don’t have a job.

Is this gap more critical than the rest, like race, disabled status, or gender? Absolutely. The report consistently iterates: Education, income, and internet use are directly and positively related. An increase in one is likely to correlate with an increase in the rest. Close the education gap, you make long strides toward closing the rest of the gaps.

Paul Medenwaldt

Monday, March 29, 2004

Digital Divide Problem:

I think the race and ethnicity divide is the most urgent. In all the reports of "Falling Through the Net", minorities were either left out or a very small number in who owns these technologies. The internet is growing for the minorties the report says, but that just because hardly anyone of them could afford it years ago. Now they are drastically changing because they are doing better off so they can afford it. So it looks like they are beating the Caucassions and Asian Americans, but in reality the later 2 groups have had the internet for many more years! All teh chars on the newest report don't take into account when the "majorities" bought computers and compared that to when "minorities" bought computers. When the "majority" was buying the "minorities were not there. So in essence this could also be a income problem as well. As shown in the movie Silicon Valley, San Pao was looked over b/c it was not in the right atmosphere. This city was surrounded by giant corporations. Eventually HP helped the city out by using their building, Plugged In. Even giant corporations are staying away from minority populated cities. This is just increasing the Digital Divide.

Solution: I don't have a real concrete answer for this. The best I could come up with is to put more computers in libraries or make a computer place in a public area for everyone to use. People might think it won't help b/c the citizens won't know how to use the computers and internet. They then should offer a class stictly for the minorities so they feel comfortable. they can learn in their environment and be apart of the new digital divide. Another way is to have more companies like HP help out the minority populated cities.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

1. I'm curious about possible reasons for the significant growth of Internet use by people who are unemployed and who have less than a high school education (From the chart on p. 24 in Chapter 2.) Any ideas? Could this related to efforts to bridge the digital divide or a more significant factor?

2. On p. 44, the report mentions how location of access may have implications for the quality of access, but this report doesn't directly measure quality of access. What might be possible indicators of quality access? What are some places where people might access the Internet and what could we expect the quality to be?

3. The report states that "among households with less than $15,000 in income, the few households with someone using the Internet at work are four times as likely to have the Internet at home as those without such a person." (p.69) -- is this the most significant determinant of getting access in the home? How does this relate to households with children?

Hi everyone. Here are my questions:

(1) I think one thing we need to think about is how reliable this data is. For instance, does the Dept. of Commerce have any incentive to exaggerate, say, the number of minorities who have access to the Internet in the U.S.? Don't statistics like this improve their appearance, as well as other government departments, to the general public?

(2) In the few years both before and after television came out, it was celebrated as an amazing technological breakthrough that would better our society immensely. And in the first few years, only a select few people could own it. Then nearly everyone got access to television, and this was supposed to be a great thing. But now, there are thousands of reports out there that say television is making us dumber. Maybe everyone having easy access to it wasn’t such a good thing after all…

Now it seems the same thing is happening with the Internet. Once everyone gets access to it, will we only then realize the negative drawbacks, or do such negative drawbacks not exist with the Internet?

And furthermore, is it the case that when you make a technology easily accessible to the mass, you are forced to dumb it down – which defeats the original purposes of the technology (think of the origins of the Internet, its initial purposes, and the desires of the government to create Internet II)?

(3) The report certainly points out with glee that more children are getting access to the Internet these days. For instance, it shows that over 40 percent of 5-9 year olds have access to the Internet (p.52). But is this such a good thing? First of all, how useful is the Internet as a learning tool, especially when you consider that most kids are only interested in games and AIM, which the Internet supplies a plethora of?

Also, isn’t it good for kids to get a grounding in learning WITHOUT technology before they learn with it? There is a lot of value in learning how to research through libraries and books, and a great part of that value is accountability. Plus, if the day ever comes when they don’t have access to technology, are they going to have any idea of how to get by without it?

From what the Executive Summary stated, data shows that 39% of individuals are making onling purchases and 35% are searching for health information. I would be interested to kinow where people are actually looking for health information. Although the internet is a great resource, it is not always accurate in the data it portrays, especially about different health issues. I would also be interested to find out if those individuals are using the internet as a second resource after seeing a physician or if it is their primary resource when they have any type of problem.

Secondly, their data shows that 80% of Americans used Internet through dial-up service in 2001, however I would be interested to see what the most recent data shows because I personally think more people are moving on and advancing to faster internet service, but I am not sure if that is just what I have seen through different friends and family or if the general public is actually changing also.

In response to several other responses regarding children using the internet, I am not sure what to think either. I personally think it is a good resource for certain things and children could possibly benefit from it in several ways, however what age should parents let their children start using the internet and actually let them use it unmonitored. The age of 5 sounds quite young to me, but then maybe it is ok for that age to use it for certain reasons.

The report was pretty interesting. The graphs were ultimately helpful though, often they summarized whole pages of text in a simple 4'' x 4'' figure. My questions:

- Why are members of Hispanic communities "inverted" in terms of the relationship between income and Internet use? (p23)

- Why do more men than women use the Internet for "news, weather, and sports?" (p32)

- What does the figure on page 58 say about the idea of desktop publishing being pushed up the corporate ladder?

Hey everyone, some questions

1) How is the "digital divide" any different than the socio-economic divisions created by any new product? Essentially, weren't there low income populations who did not have televisions when they first came out? Doesn't history indicate that this gap will close itself?

2) Do you believe that "network effects" among people determine the structure of the Internet, by means of isolating groups within it while excluding groups from it at the same time?

3) What age is appropriate for children to use the Internet? Is it necessary at all? Entirely imperative? Is it healthy for 11-year olds to spend hours a day on Instant Messanger, talking to friends whom they were just at school with for 8 hours?

Here goes...

(1) Use of the Internet at work increases the likelihood of use at home. This may explain why lower income individuals and families have a lower Internet usage rate than their higher income counterparts because lower paying positions may not require Internet access at the job. Is there then a way to overcome this difference? If lower income individuals keep getting lower income jobs with no Internet access, this relationship is likely to continue. How might we alleviate this problem?

(2) The report cited ethnic minorities have lower Internet and computer usage rates than whites. The report also cites which states have the lowest Internet usage rates. These states include Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, all states with lower socioeconomic status and higher ethnic populations (especially Black). How can these states overcome their lag in online usage?

(3) The report often cites the usage rates and trends of those three and older. I am interested to know what activities constitute "use" for these youger age groups. Are they really a viable source to study? What does everyone else think?

In response to Ruben's question about children, the internet and health; personally I feel the internet has a large impact on the health of today's youth. There are more opportunites for children to sit infront of the computer, and parents are embracing them because they are educational games. Television used to be the problem, but as long as children were watching educational television, like PBS shows, parents felt better about letting them sit in front of the television. Now, parents let their preschoolers sit infront of the computer for hours at a time because they're playing computer games that are supposed to help them learn to spell, speak other languages, etc... this to me is scary and possibly discouraging interaction between children and decreasing active behavior in children. It is definitly a change that is concerning

Paul brings up an interesting point when speaking about dorms and internet usage. I never thought about how much more I used the internet while I was in the dorms. Plus the internet is free with 'rent'. Looking at internet usage in buildings where the internet is free/included in the rent may bring in interesting information. Or by looking at how prominent a computer is in an area may affect the usage. In most dorms, the room is basically a beds, clothes and a computer or two. Looking at the household type, the price of the internet, and the amount of usage may prove to be quite interesting.

In the section comparing internet usage (in our age range) with people in school vs. people not in school, the differences are considerably drastic. This is interesting to me, but considering college and how much you're required to use the internet compared to high school it makes sense. But at the same time people not in school are most likely out in the work force. It seems a bit odd to me that the change is so prominent, 48.5 percent of people 18-24 [not in school] don't use the internet, while only 15.0 percent of 18-24 year-olds [in school] don't use the internet--and I have no clue how that 15 percent does that! What are the reasons for this difference? Do these people really hate school and the internet may remind them of school? That's a horrible conclusion.

hey...i'm having some trouble posting...sorry if my questions are on several times

My questions on the report:

1. I read the section on the "offline population" and I was interested in the figure of 20 percent of the population who don't have the Internet because they don't want it. What about those who don't have it for other reasons (financial, no computer, etc.)? Do they want it but just don't have it? Is it truly an inequality to not have access, or do people without it not care that they don't have it?

2. In the chapter on disabilities, it talks about what different disabilities prevent people from accessing the Internet and what those with disabilities use the Internet for. For those without special access, what would they need (special tools, etc.) in order to access the Internet and use it to their ability?

3. What are the implications of this study, and how can we use it?

My questions on the report:

1. I read the section on the "offline population" and I was interested in the figure of 20 percent of the population who don't have the Internet because they don't want it. What about those who don't have it for other reasons (financial, no computer, etc.)? Do they want it but just don't have it? Is it truly an inequality to not have access, or do people without it not care that they don't have it?

2. In the chapter on disabilities, it talks about what different disabilities prevent people from accessing the Internet and what those with disabilities use the Internet for. For those without special access, what would they need (special tools, etc.) in order to access the Internet and use it to their ability?

3. What are the implications of this study, and how can we use it?

I’m inclined to agree with Chris regarding access to the internet vs. location of that access. You’d be surprised at how much of the web you don’t use when you’re at say, a computer lab. So I’ve got to wonder, how can we define access? The report, clearly, takes a wet foot/dry foot approach. That is, any access is total access. But obviously, as Jeanette pointed out, all access is not created equal (i.e. 508 compliance). So perhaps a more thorough approach is needed.

Also, the state-based approach is interesting to me. Alaska, Minnesota, and New Hampshire boast usage numbers far above the national average. Now, it’s tempting to assign simple factors to these numbers, like “Of course Alaska has more internet usage, they’re so far away, they’ve gotta use the web.” But it’s probably not that simple (see Hawaii). I’d be interested to see the socio-economic numbers behind these states, too. So my question is, how useful are these state breakdowns, when they aren’t correlated with other numbers (see box 2-1) ?

Finally, on a more quizzical note, in Table 2-1 when indexing computer use vs. “Household Type in Which the User Lives,” they exclude dormitories. Why? For me, at least, after leaving the dorms, my computer/internet use dropped exponentially. Why would a report highlighting how online a nation we are chose to ignore these multi-user areas?

Paul Medenwaldt

1.Having spent seven hours putting alt tags on the UW-food service site last Monday, I thought it would be a good Idea to check out the statistics on people with disabilities and the internet. ON page 68, it says that "...people with disabilities are more likely than the population in general to use the internet to play games and search for health information." Emailing and searching for government info are around the same as the general population, but the rest are lagging a bit behind. Why is it that 39% of people with disabilities use the internet for games? does this necessarily mean that games are more accessible? or does it mean that accessibility doesn't really matter when it comes to games because it isn't as seriously involved as shopping, etc?
2.What will the section 508 standards do to internet usage amoungst people with dissabilities? What is the average income of people with the various disabilities listed by the CPS? How do income and job availability factor into the use of computers by those with disabilities, and how can the internet change/create jobs?
UW Accessibility Policy
3.Will broadband become another obstacle for less advantaged people to overcome? How can we be sure that technology will not grow faster than our ability to get everyone online? Will sites require faster connections to properly function, and again, less fortunate people will not be up to speed with what is needed for good information access?

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

here they are...

1. Connectivity seemed to be increasing up through the census conducted in September of 2001. According to the report, e-commerce was strong and growing. However, the dot-com bust began six months before and was still rolling along. Many, many dot-com companies were failing around this time. (835 companies from 2000-2002). Two-thirds of all failed companies were content and e-commerce sites, aimed at the "average American" (rather than businesses, academia, etc). In the next survey, is there likely to be a dip in connectivity? The public may have became weary of the Internet and its decreasing amount of sites/content or may have not had the money to connect because of the recession that followed... If sites go down, and there is a dip in connectivity, would this pose a public policy problem, rather than a purely economic one? If the Internet is viewed as a right, like the telephone increasingly is, should there be more government involvement in providing "universal service"?

If you're interested in the history of the dot-com bust, go here.

2. As more of America goes online, and companies spring up to serve the public, what happens to other countries who don't speak English? Continuing on the
universal service idea, once the Internet is viewed more as a right, will other countries perceive America to be infringing on its rights with its dominance online? Will countries that speak English prosper (e.g. India) while those who don't, won't?

3. Those groups whose connectivity increased usually accessed a computer at a library, etc. It seems to me that there's a big difference in what you can do in your home vs. at work, at a library, etc. This is where I thought the report's gloss was thickest.
It states in Chapter 3 that minorites use the Internet for different uses, states in Chapter 4 that "comparable figures" of blacks (18% -- over twice as many as whites) use the Internet at a library but never connects such facts.
And... just because you use a computer at work to connect to the Internet doesn't mean much. Working at Walgreens for a summer, I used the Internet all the time -- but only to do routine, boring tasks. It seems the survey makes it seem as if using the Internet -- for any reason -- is this noble, productive, useful, magical learning experience. At home, one can be entertained, learn and do business (selling or buying). Other places, this may be restricted in the time a user has or what a user can do. Would a better focus be on a digital divide in what one is capable of doing online?

These are just some of my random thinking outloud. I hope you all can follow!
1. In the executive summary it states that 90% of 5-17 yr olds are on-line. I think it is just outstanding that 5 year olds are knowing how to use the internet. I really can't believe that they are that young. But, could this potentially be too young? Are they seeing things they shouldn't be seeing?

2. It does not surprise me that people with disablilites are not using the internet. I think it would be hard for them to grasp the concept expecially if someone was blind, b/c the internet is a visual atmosphere. However, I would think that maybe the computer could assist those with mental disabilities. I know at my highschool we had computers for those with disabilities and they really enjoyed working with them. Although there were many of times they just got frustrated and gave up. Do you think there is a way to make computers more friendly to the disadvantaged?

3.My last thought is that of the language barrier. This country is being emersed with a Spanish speaking population. There are some sites that allow you to have it typed in Spanish, but I think this is just the begining. I think that someday someone is going to get fed up and want to have the opportunites that the rest of the US has and create a Spanish internet. Do you think there will be a time when we will have a Spanish internet like in the way we have Telamundo TV?

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Hello everyone! Hope everyone had a nice break.

Week 10 Discussion questions:

1) Chapter 2 of the NTIA 2002 report talks about computer and Internet use. Here,it is stated that seventy-five percent of 14-17 year olds and
65 percent of 10-13 year olds use the Internet more than any other age
group. Given what has been reported by public health officials (i. e. kids
are living unhealthy lifestyles), and how much children use computers,
should we undercut computer usage among kids so as to not put them at risk?

2) Chapter five addresses how youths have embraced the usage of
computers in contemporary times, where parents voice their concerns
about their children’s online use. It is reported that close to 70-percent
of parents are concerned with what their kids might find online. Yet, more than half (50.3-percent) will not curtail Internet usage at all despite their fears. Should we blame the exposure of children to potentially unsuitable material on parents or on technology itself?

3) Chapter 8 reports that over 92-percent of households that do not
enjoy access to the Internet would be concerned with their privacy if they did. In an era in which our nation in involved in the fight against terrorism, does privacy outweigh the population’s need for technological advancement. Should we repel laws such as the Patriot Act to further it?

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Hey everyone,

I had a bunch of viruses at the beginning of this year and these were helpful:

First, Ad-Aware, is a free program you can use to scan your hard drive for spyware and then easily remove it.

After this step, you should restart your computer.

Second, to lose most of the annoying pop-ups, there is a free Google Toolbar which blocks pop-ups pretty well and also saves you the time of going to the google page all the time.

The last thing I did, was in windows click "start", "control panel", "network connections", right click on the "local area connection" (or whatever connection you are using to get online), choose "properties" and go to the "Advanced" tab on the window that appears. When you're on the Advanced Tab, there should be a check box next to "Protect my computer and network by limiting access to this computer to and from the network" (or something like that), I would probably have that checked, especially if you're on cable internet, or DSL.
**I have Windows XP, I don't know if this firewall step will work for older versions of Windows**

Let me know if this does/does not help, or dvr9484 on aim

Have a great spring break and good luck.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

I thought that this information on Googlemania! from the March WIRED magazine pertained a lot to today's discussion. The hard copy is much more exciting because of the great graphic design, but this is still cool.

I visited It's really interesting web's page. For an hour (from 10 A.M to 11 A.M) the editor change the main article and picture in the main page. In my view point, the main audiences are people who work many areas such as education, business, science and polititics.
It seems the Newsweek has concentrated on political area than other areas through its information is very diversified. Many types of sources related to Business, Sport, Tech, Science, Entertainment, Health, Travel, Opinions, Weather, Local News, Today's show, Nightly News, etc. The information are illustrated by media such as video, short film and music. I went to "Oscar award" and could see many good pictures of actors and actresses. They also provide some short films that won the Oscar prizes. The web page are really interactive. But they have many kind of advertisements, especially pop-up. They appear when you link to another page and really disturb anyone who tries to find news and information. I think they earn a of money from advertising. With the sample of film or music you try to see or listen, you have to wait until the advertisement films stop.
The web's page is well-balanced though it has priorities for political area. The site is useful for the research topic cause it has "Archive". You can go there and find what kind of information you need. The Newsweek Archives contain most of the stories from the domestic edition since January 1993, most stories from the international editions since January 1999, and all Web Exclusives since June 2000. It is good for instructors, students, officers, businessmen, white-collars, ect since it has provided believable and serious information. The are not appropriate for teenagers or people who still not mature.

For the assignment I chose to visit the Time website. The website goes along with the weekly magazine, but of course, enhanced because of web capabilities, i.e. cross-referencing.the homepage was the obligatory coverage of Super Tuesday. Everything surrounding John Kerry, including links to past articles, such as the cover last month about what kind of president he would make. Election 2004 itself has it’s very own special section addressing top issues, mainly gay marriage.
I decided to click on on of he articles, which, along with the article I had selected, had a pop up telling you all the great web benefits of having a hardcopy subscription in the form of a memo “signed” by the managing editor of

There were advertisements for Levitra, Investment Firms, FedEx, a broadband phone company, as well as self adverisements, like the pop up previously mentioned, as well as ads welling back issues, and LIFE (the money still goes to the same pockets) The ads changed to designer lines at target, when I clicked on a photo essay about the Hilton sisters ( yes, I am ashamed). Clicking to go to the articles from the current issues brings you to the current articles, along with a cell at the bottom of the window with the “top-selling books,” a slightly disguised advertisement for The website also had special connections to the LIFE website, for more self promotion.

There are links to the international versions for Canada, Asia, Europe, and the Pacific. All of the headlines for these sites were what was on the "world" section in the menu. What I found interesting about these websites was that they all had advertisements for the 2004 Olympics in Athens, but the US site did not.

The site connects to it's audience by offering special subscriber services, such as "Ahead of time," an email TIME sends out before the magazine is recieved in the mail. It also connects through Polls, special requested emails for all and a list of those most requested emails, a question of the week which one can post answers to, and a special section devoted to "ten years ago" flashbacks, which seem to be pretty hot amoungst the online news sources.

There is a wide selection of archives available to read, whether or not one is a subscriber, like my favorite time columnist and VH1 commentator, Joel Stien who writes phrases like "Underdogs are for Canadians."

It appears as though the people at Time are trying to access people with money to spare for investments, as they had many investment ads, as well as travel ads. Time would like to reach people who's pocketbooks are not emaciated. They also do not generally want one gender audience over another. As I said, there were ads for Levitra, and the rest of the ads were gender neutral.

I selected (sorry, still can't make a link) as my web site to focus on. Salon is an independent news agency that, as far as I know, has no counterpart in “hard” media like magazines, television networks, newspapers, etc. Most news web sites all have these counterparts (CNN, business week, FoxNews, etc.) these days.

The basic gist of the homepage is just a ton of articles. There is one big picture associated with the feature article, and it involves Abu Ghraib prison, which the article is about. There are dozens of articles posted under this one, and you just have to scroll down to check them all out. To the left is “from the wire” stories that I imagine are more current, and come from outside sources.

The general tone of t the articles and the site as a whole and is distinctively liberal. That’s why I found their banner ad to be interesting. Salon, just like nearly every other web site out there, has a huge advertising banner on the top of the screen. But instead of advertising cars, computers, or movies (as most banner ads do, at least at the web sites I’m accustomed to), it is advertising an online book store (

This is just an idea, but I wonder if would every pay to advertise on a site like (a distinctively conservative web site, TV network, and of course, owner Rupert Murdoch). It is presented as an alternative to barnes and noble or borders because it focuses on used books, rare book, and out of print books.

Again, this is just a theory, but I bet liberals are more likely (a) to be interested in those kind of books, and (b) to actively seek out an alternative to huge corporate “monsters” like Barnes and noble and borders, which most conservatives don’t consider to be “monsters” at all. The tagline is “from tattoos to Tolstoy,” and I bet more liberals are interested in both tattoos and Tolstoy than conservatives. Just an idea. Salon is a site that captures a distinctively liberal audience, and while there aren’t many companies out there that cater specifically to liberals, there are many that would like to exploit their often strange tastes in products.

Salon, like many other sites out there, offers a “premium” package, where you have to log in and pay a monthly fee for the “premium” content. This is how a lot of sites make some serious bank, from porn sites to They give you the free taste to whet your appetite, and they know exactly which articles would be the most appealing to people, and they place these under the “premium” content. It’s a pretty smart idea, I think, and I imagine pretty lucrative too.

One thing I noticed immediately about salon is that it has few links to other sites. I found this to be surprising. Most news sites I’ve been to offer you countless links to their “affiliates” and the like, but since Salon is independent, it doesn’t do that. That was kind of refreshing. Plus, since it doesn’t have a hard news counterpart, there are no links to suscribe to the magazine, or the network, or whatever.

Finally, I noticed that even has personal ads. I found that to be kind of funny. That also seems to be a good way for any web site to make money. And again, salon can offer a particular kind of person in the ads, mostly liberals.

That’s about it I guess.

-josh holzbauer

After critiquing different websites, I chose to analyze When you first look at the page, it is nicely put together with brightly colored links and features with links on the left hand side which are quite helpful. There is a link for just about anything you would like. It varies from additional news, weather, sports entertainment and opinions. I found these useful because they offer several options when you scroll your mouse on the link, you not only have the option of clicking on health for example, but also top stories and top sections which dealt with all different sections of health, hopefully providing useful information for everyone interested. The two top headlines with large pictures deal with presidential candidates and have links within them to learn more information about each. As you scroll down the page, it gets to be a bit overwhelming due to the amount of information and advertisements they try to squeeze on the page. However, they have done a nice job of making sure the news links and important information are in the center of the page the entire time you are scrolling down. The advertisements are actually quite minimal which surprised me, but once you click on a link they not only provide you with a story but also with additional advertisements on that page.
There are not only headline stories, there are also links to The Today Show and Newsweek Magazine towards the top of the page. However, these are the only two websites I see links for besides the links provided by msnbc to read their different headlines and top stories. As you scroll down, the links on the left hand side become more for entertainment than news related material. Labeled also on msnbc, are horoscope links, fantasy sports links, yellow pages, newsletters and corrections. Back to the top of the page, there is a search box for you to use msn as a search engine. There are also links to hotmail, shopping, and money. Below these links there is a catchy link labeled right now, which scrolls different headlines that are important at the moment, several which include video news links for the users to watch.
Overall, the website is colorful and easily accessible when trying to find different links. I enjoyed the fact that it took you straight to the story when clicking on a link. This does not happen in all news websites, sometimes you have a few obstacles to go through before actually getting the chance to read the story you had originally wanted. After reviewing the site, I am not sure if they have an intended audience involving a certain age group, but my assumption is that the age varies through a wide range of people. Most likely, several people click on different links within msnbc while checking their hotmail accounts and this is where several users come from. Although most likely not everyone enjoys receiving their news from msnbc, it does not take much effort to find a news link you are looking for on this site.

I took a look at This site is more visual than most news sites. There is a large area in the center with pictures of current news happenings. The sidebar is where the actual content exists. This is good organization in my opinion, because instead of clicking on links constantly, you are scaning the topics until you find the exact link you need. This aviods the overuse of the back key and saves time. The sidebar uses general categories first such as news, business, entertainment, and then if you click on the category it opens to a large assortment of articles to choose from. Plus at the bottom of the list there are subcategories that allow more complicated sections like sports to be better organized because there are categories specific to each sport (basketball, baseball etc.). As you scroll down the page the categories are listed with main articles you can open directely from the first page. This allows two possible ways to navigate to the article you want to read.

Along the right side of the page, there are advertisments, but they are disguised as stories by portraying the advertiser as a sponsor. For example there is a science section that says "are you curious about your family tree? Find out more here. sponsored by And a travel information section about cruises sponsored by Cruise Value Center. There are two advertisments and they are labeled advertisments right above them. One is more of a flash program advertisment so it is clearly an ad.

There is a great deal more content than advertising, but I did find it interesting that some advertising seemed to be hidden. If I worked in media, I would consider this a mediocre site to work with, because by hiding some advertisng and showing real advertisnig right next to it, it may lower the credibility of the site's advertising.

The site also dedicates a good amount of ad space to the popular NBC television programs. THis makes sence since the site belongs to NBC, but they also mix this advertising with content. FOr example there is a section with a small title "Today" and it has a link to an article about women and body image.

There is a MSNshopping link at the bottom of the sidebar and I find that a bit curious. Over all the site is easy to navigate, but needs work with its advertising layout and content.

For the class assignment:

I looked at I frequent this page daily (sometimes multiple times daily) for my news so it was interesting to take an analytical perspective on it. I would say that the site is aimed at anyone intersted in the news, mostly adults and likely educated. I would say educated because some of the material would not be understood by many people as it can get quite technical in some articles, though they try to write at a intermediate or elementary level. There is much more editorial content than ad content. I would estimate, on average, after venturing within the site into several categories that the average number of ads per page is 2-3. The site is much more useful for news coverage. There is not much background information provided in general. Most articles kind of frame the issue but do not go into much detail. I also noticed there were many different ways to get information: the traditional text, video feeds and soundbites. The site was VERY timely. I looked at it last night and they already had results up for Super Tuesday and extensive coverage in each of the states. Overall, I find the site very informative and perhaps, that is why I use it, in addition to cable news networks so often because they are timely and I can access them when I want instead of waiting for the 6 or 10 o'clock news. Another feature that offers is email updates on new news so that if I am particularly interested in the War on Iraq or the Martha Stewart case, I can be sent emails whenever they write an article about the issue or there is breaking news. This also increases the timeliness of's function.

The New York Times

The first thing I noticed on the New York Times Homepage was the fact that “All the news that’s fit to print” was missing from the site. It’s such a small detail, but something that I have come to expect when reading the printed paper.

The main headline on the page was “Sprinting So Far, Kerry Faces a Marathon”. I clicked on the link and discovered that you have to be a member of in order to access any of the stories. I was sent to a page that informed me, it is free to be a member, and it’s as easy as 1-2-3. Plus, for members there are exclusive Web-only features, etc.

Thankfully, I am already a member, and don’t have to go through the “easy” process again, so after logging in, I was sent back to the homepage. At the top, I have my member center. One of the benefits to being a member, I was able to access archived articles, which I have gotten prompts to pay for before.

Inside another Kerry article, while the story was really good, and what I would expect of the paper, I was bothered by an ad, stuck in the middle of the story that kept flashing and changing screens as I was trying to read. I guess there are some benefits to reading the print version. Maybe that is why at the bottom of the page I was offered the opportunity to get home delivery from 2.90/week…(and up).

The site had an interesting banner ad for the NY Times Knowledge Network. College students could write an essay on civic engagement for the “Student Perspectives” essay contest, and win a $200 gift certificate to Barnes and Noble. (Would this be considered cross-promotion?) Since this was an interesting topic of our online discussion, maybe someone from class should apply.

With the requirement that people become members, the member center, and the option to personalize your weather, I think the NY Times definitely feels its audience consists of regular users, people who probably read the paper in print form as well, well-educated individuals (including college students). Users also have the option to e-mail articles to others, which I found useful for an article I am using for extra credit for another class. The features of the site are definitely intended to be user-friendly, especially with the option of viewing other similar articles after reading one you might be interested in.

The main focus of the home page is the presidential campaign. I noticed that the top of the Home page had relatively few advertisements, but as I scrolled down to see the headlines from the different sections of the paper (business, sports, arts, etc.), the side bars showed adds for Marriott hotels, Citibank, and a radio station that I could listen to “now” online.

One thing that really pointed out the profit motives of the paper was at the very bottom of the page, On This Day section. It read On March 3…1991: Rodney King was severely beaten by Los Angeles police officers in a scene captured on amateur video. It then offered to let me see the front page from that day, or I could buy any front page since 1851. So much for free access to information. It did offer some interesting historical information I guess (Did you know that Tone Loc turns 38 today) but it doesn’t really speak to my motive for reading the paper.

Overall the content of the paper was pretty good. The amount of advertising was annoying, and there is evidence everywhere that this is a for-profit organization. But I still found quality news, op-ed pieces, and easy access to other information I searched for.

Like Nick, I visited, no caps, just like it says on the website (like it says on the address bar…those guys are tricky). I also noticed the google bar right away. Unlike Nick, I don’t think it has anything to do with having a desire to be a web portal per se. I see the google bar as a sort of web site status symbol. If you’re gonna be hot these days, you’ve gotta get with google. Beyond that, washington post probably uses the google box allowing its employees to better use its intranet.
The links down the side broken down into categories are OK, helping me drill a bit faster to find my info. But the real gem of is, which is entirely customizable, (like most newspaper websites these days). I figure they make these customizable things for a few reasons. The first is that people like to see the news they want now, not have to drill through a mess of links to find it. But second, and I think this is more important, is the idea that it takes a pretty long time to set up a customized news page. Maybe 10, 15 minutes. Once I do that once on, I’m not gonna go to and (the post’s biggest competitors in the print/online newspaper world) and do it again. That is, what seems like a silly ritual is at once both a barrier to entry and a user retention devices. But what do I know.
Anyway, some other things I noticed about the site: The weather box on the right hand side. We’ve all seen these, you enter your zip code and they tell you the weather. I dig ‘em, ‘cause I’m always wondering about the weather, but I never use ‘em, which tells you something. If I’m at a comp. I go to, and if I’m near a tube, it’s Local on the 8’s baby. I’m not sure how useful these things are, but they’re nice nonetheless.
I agree with Nick about the registration gig. It’s free, yeah, but it’s a pain. Just be happy I’m *looking* at your ads.
I drilled into some content, Kornheiser on the baseball union, to see what the post would give me. On the right hand side were your typical “related stories” links and the obligatory poll question “With their offseason acquisitions, which team has given themselves the best chance for a World Series title?” This is what passes for participatory journalism these days. In the middle of the page, about a third of the way down, was an ad aimed right at me, wrapping the text of the article around it. From a media consumer’s perspective, this is about what I’m willing to deal with for advertising on the internet. An inoffensive ad that my eye pretty much has to look at, but not necessarily actively see, mixed in with the content I’m after, i.e. Kornheiser’s editorial.
At the bottom of the page is a bar identical to the one at the top, linking to news, op-eds, sports, art/living (why those two got stuck together I have no idea), and entertainment, along with links to the classified section and a message board. They only real reason I think this is interesting is that the 5 links (news through entertainment) are not the same as the categories running down the left side of the page. The first four are identical, but running down the side has no entertainment link, just on top.
Anyway, I agree with Nick that has a pretty effective site, and the money confirms it, they invested a significant sum to their online presence. Plus, far from the standard “content dump” from the print to the online, they have a solid online staff which is relatively autonomous from the print version, which plays a huge part in the success of an online news portal.

Paul Medenwaldt

The New York Times

The first thing I noticed on the New York Times Homepage was the fact that “All the news that’s fit to print” was missing from the site. It’s such a small detail, but something that I have come to expect when reading the printed paper.

The main headline on the page was “Sprinting So Far, Kerry Faces a Marathon”. I clicked on the link and discovered that you have to be a member of in order to access any of the stories. I was sent to a page that informed me, it is free to be a member, and it’s as easy as 1-2-3. Plus, for members there are exclusive Web-only features, etc.

Thankfully, I am already a member, so after logging in, I was sent back to the homepage. At the top, I have my member center. One of the benefits to being a member, I was able to access archived articles, which I have gotten prompts to pay for before.

The site had an interesting banner ad for the NY Times Knowledge Network. College students could write an essay on civic engagement for the “Student Perspectives” essay contest, and win a $200 gift certificate to Barnes and Noble. (Would this be considered cross-promotion?) Since this was an interesting topic of our online discussion, maybe someone from class should apply.

I chose to analyze, since it is a website a look at every day, but never really give much thought to as far as the layout or anything unrelated to the pure sports content is concerned. The very top and extreme right sections of the page feature links to various sections of MSN's Passport ranging from "Hotmail" to "People and Chat". An ad for the Mazda 3 is located below the Passport links, which will be given to the winner of ESPN's reality series Dream Job along with a one year contract as an anchor for SportsCenter.

More links are placed below this banner advertisement for and as well as ESPN's mothership station ABC, and other ESPN products from extreme sports outlet EXPN to the ESPN Shop. Next to the links for ESPN's in house products is a brief description of what is being shown on ESPN's TV networks at the present time along with upcoming shows. After that, the page contains a picture in the center, often of the day's top story followed by its lead in. Links for similar stories are below that, while other recent headlines are listed beside the pictures. Another ad for a Samsung Plasma TV is squeezed into the mix as well, which seems unusual since ESPN's High Definition Broadcasts are sponsored by Philips and Best Buy.

Aside from this quirk, there really is no wall between editorial and advertising. ESPN either creates or has some form of business link to all of the links on its home page either through partnerships, or through consistent advertising on its television networks. On the other hand, the content on the page is purely about sports, and there is no censorship of content based on who the companies in the advertising are. Within the past few weeks, the site has implemented a new form of advertising which I have found to be unavoidable. Instead of having Flash or Pop-Up ads, they now randomly show an ad that fills up the entire window the viewer is using to read the next story in.

My preconceived notion about the site is that it would be geared towards men 18-45. I have found this to be almost entirely false. Another recent ESPN addition is Page 3 which is completely based on entertainment news. The page seems to be a form of supplement to ESPN 2’s Cold Pizza, the new morning show which is designed for the more casual sports fan who can not stomach an hour of “SportsCenter”. Cold Pizza features weather, entertainment, global news, and of course sports, but presents in it in a softer sort of way. It would be more accurate to say that the site is designed simply for sports fans, because every team in all of the major sports has their own news page created by ESPN, along with statistics, message boards (with threading), and ESPN Insider, a subscription-based offer for fans to receive “exclusive” content ranging from trade rumors to additional streaming video content.

The site tends to load quickly, even in times of high traffic. Typically, the site is used for daily new clips and stories, just to give keep fans informed of the latest news. However, because of the vast array of information available, would be very useful in researching many aspects of sports’ history. Player and team data goes back many years, which makes in-depth reporting more feasible. For example if I am going to enter a Fantasy Baseball Draft, and need to find stats on certain players at certain fields, against certain pitchers, all of these numbers are available.

I would definitely recommend the use of this site, particularly over that of rivals and The layout of ESPN’s site is much more fluid than the other two, which makes finding necessary news and information very simple.

Some notes on The Washington Post:

The front page of the Washington Post is pretty typical of online newspaper web presenses. There's the leftover tribute to the masthead on top, followed by some large attention-grabbing image (in this case a photo of John Kerry and his chin) and a supersized headline marking Kerry's locking up of the nomination. Much of the design of the site is a testament to the way "old" web sites were designed with many (many!) links to content deeper within the site (vertical links) and few links which function horizontally. Most notably they have the "old fashioned portal" problem of of having a Google search bar at the top of their page. Rather than specializing in providing news online, this indicates that at least at some point in the newspaper's history they had dreams of being a gateway page to the net. The Google search bar therefore runs at counter purposes to the lack of other horizontal links.

On the WP's front page there are five ads — six if you count the link back to Google which is debatably advertising for their search engine. Of these ads, only one is what might be considered "traditional" advertising in that it's the long stretched out "vertical banner" commonly on sites from many different types around the net. In this case it's an ad for Courtyard Hotels complete with GenX model-human dancing on his bed with a guitar — we've all been there haven't we? At first I was puzzled by the appearance of an ad for a hotel chain on the front page of a newspaper site — typically the prime spots are reserved for tech companies — but the age and actions of the ad's main character seem to be targeting the same demographic.

The site requires registration to view any interior pages (use my info:, asdfgasdfg). What a pain to have to deal with that. Presumably it exists so that the WP can collect some information about those who use their content. Even so, charging anything for content is a barrier to entry and many users simply will go elsewhere, and forced registration tends to work essentially the same way.

Once you get to the interior pages, the most notable thing on the page is the advertising. There's a "double wide" vertical banner for British Airways above the fold, animated of course, which makes it difficult to concentrate on the rest of the content. Interestingly, as you view more pages the advertising moves around on the page (in this case a banner ad was added to the top of the page). They're attempting to cash in on the fact that the human eye perceives change more than "things." Interesting tactic. Otherwise the rest of the page makes pretty good sense, there are links related to the story (in this case Kerry's near-sweep of Super Tuesday), poll results in the various states, photos of a jubilant Kerry, a primary calendar for the rest of the country.

On the front page, the stories linked to are "headline plus one sentence lead." Interestingly they also include a byline on the front page unlike most other online newspapers. Once you go to a "category page" (like "sports") that changes and users are only presented with single line headlines from which to select for reading. The former is a better way to attract readers, the latter tends to encourage hunting and pecking.

So the big question -- is the WP doing a good job? I actually think they are. Their front page has a few remnants from an earlier day, but all in all they're modernizing quite nicely. Do they provide good content? They tend to have a pretty reasonable repuation for doing so, and when it comes to "quality" reputation is really all there is to go on. Nothing in the layout of the site hints at their underlying biases -- except of course the stories they've selected (one from each of their sections).

The Guardian Unlimited

This site has very few ads in relation to actual content – there are a couple of ads, but they are along the very top or the right side and aren't too prominent. I've never seen popup ads on this site. There is also a small ad for the pay-for services offered by the Guardian, and the navigation box with the services listed in it is highlighted in pink and red, instead of the blue that is used for other navigation boxes.

This site is often updated; in fact, there is a semi-marquee (the text slowly appears) in the very center of the page that displays the most current of headlines. These headlines are very brief and the semi-marquee effect isn't as irritating as a regular marquee effect.

The links in the top navigation bar are revealing of users; for example, they bring the “Books” and “Football” sections to the top level, along with labels like “Sport,” “Business,” and “Arts.” Alternatively, the first two labels could be included under other, higher level categories, though they must be useful enough to users that they have been placed on this top level. The intended audience for this site appears to be primarily people in the UK, though also English–reading internationals. They do not provide versions of the site in other languages, though they do claim to be the “Best daily newspaper on the world wide web.” The site also targets adults – some sites offer a “kids” section but this one does not. The content is for a general audience, rather than a specific group (for example, it does not target parents, mothers, college students, etc). There appears to be a balance between a focus on technology, business, general news, and arts.

I would recommend this site in part because it has a nice layout and is easy to read. I like it that there are enough pictures to be informative, but not enough to cause site loading to be slow or to detract from the text. I also like how they separate and provide extensive information about the site itself and the people behind the Guardian, and that they have many help and search features. This includes search boxes, as well as help specific to each section of the Guardian. Also, they seem to encourage user feedback by making it easy to contact them multiple ways.

Another thing I like about this site is the interactive guides section to find out more about each topic, rather than simply reading a single article. This feature tracks themes in the news, and is useful at least as a beginning for background research. The search box and archive search are fairly good – they allow you to search between certain dates, in headlines and text or just headlines, etc. Also helpful for research are the “Useful links” provided on the left of articles, which lead to related stories. There is also a small section of links on the left labeled “Go to,” which leads to more general sections of the site that would be of interest (rather than to specific articles). However, the site seems to be more useful for daily news rather than research, because the daily news sections are much better developed than the search capabilities and linking between related stories.

I visited for my field notes study. Although “fair and balanced,” Fox News is geared toward people with a more conservative bent. Because of this, I thought it’d be interesting to see their take on “Super Tuesday.” The first thing a user would most likely see upon visiting the site is an advertisement for Samsung. I think the ad is provided by Comcast, but I’m not sure. The next thing down is an advertisement for Greta Van Sustren’s On the Record, to be seen at 1 a.m., in about 15 minutes – making it very timely. The navigation bars are a mix between content and advertisements/shopping. They range from “Real Estate” to the O’Reilly Factor.

The largest picture on the site is one of John Kerry. Underneath is sound bite-type information on what has happened in relation to his wins, such as Hillary Clinton’s endorsement. All information seems very timely, as I didn’t hear most of it on CNN’s midnight replaying of their 9 p.m. coverage.

The top stories of the day are ones that aren’t seen elsewhere, such as information on Dennis Hastert moving the 9/11 investigation forward, the boarder patrol “still lacking,” and experts differing on the state of the economy. This may be because Roger Ailes is a die-hard Republican – a former GOP operative, producer of the short-lived Rush Limbaugh show, etc. Also, many anchors are Republican: Tony Snow was a speechwriter for Bush Sr.; O’Reilly was a Republican until it was revealed in a Wash Post article, Brit Hume used to be a conservative commentator, etc. This may be why the “Views” section contains only conservative opinions, including one from the powerful conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation – which has its own special section in “Views.”

For the most part, Fox news labels its advertisements and separates them with a box. However, it may be unclear to some visitors when it advertises, such as the ads for a “Hannity book for 99 cents,” or the Fox Shop, where you can buy Fox News clothing (I just bought my whole spring wardrobe).

Also interesting is “Fox News Access,” sponsored by SBC, in which text comes up showing a corresponding video. The text is somewhat leading, asking what a President Kerry would do to terrorists “who want to kill us,” and whether Anheuser-Bush is making a mistake for hiring Ludacris to sell beer (O’Reilly has vehemently opposed Ludacris selling products in the past). While Fox News’ positions in news could be argued as objective, its selection of news seems to be aimed at conservatives. Also, it seems to favor people looking casually at news, browsing at their leisure. It wouldn’t be that useful for research purposes – a newspaper would probably be more thorough.

Although I would definitely not recommend Fox News, I have some friends who live by it. However, they thought Saddam had WMD’s until about last week and heard nothing about the CIA leak and Bush’s Vietnam controversy until other networks aired it, and heard the rumor about Kerry’s intern when no other networks (I think) covered it. Yea, I guess I’m not that fair and balanced…

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

I visited for my field notes study. I would say this site is geared towards poeple who are interested in the news of the day. I'm sure (from personal experience) that college-age kids and adults primarily use this site to get their politcial news.
The first thing that catches my eye is at the top right hand corner, the Netscape name. THen right below this is a picture of John Kerry and headlines about Super Tuesday. The major issue obviously tonight is who is going to win in Super Tuesday. It shows already that John Kerry has won Connecticut, Maryland, and Massachusetts. This is a very timely site, because it was showing up to date precint numbers.
Just below the Kerry article are a list of more top stories of the day. On the left hand side they have links to different kinds of articles for example sports, health, weather etc. These links then were also spread out one by one with moer sub headings related to upcoming events. Each area had at least 2 stories for each.
They also offer you to sign up for breaking news. I did this once, and you will get a lot of stories sent to you!
For advertisements, there weren't that many. At the very top there was a google search line and there was another one down a bit on the left hand side. There was an ad by Acura nest to a listening link of a speech. It said sponsered by Acura. Another ad appeared at the very bottom of the page and it said "powered by Novell." I guess you could call this the very bottom of the page they have a section titled "From our partners" Then they list TIme, Sports Illustrated and Fortune." They offer links to their stories in the magazine and then also offer you to subscribe to the magazine. One other interesting note is that in the middle of the page CNN had it's one little gimick. You could actually get CNN gear!
I would definatly say there is more editorial infor then ads. The ads are very small and the news takes over. Which is exactly what it should do seeing that it is a news site!
This site is clearly better for daily soundbites. There is a way to go back and look at stories, but it's primary focus is to keep to relevant stories. Again from personal experience, it can be done to use it for research.
I would recommend this site if you are looking for the top news stories of the day. It gives good stories in a limited space. They are detailed and to the point. Again like I said it's better for the latest stories. It's nice and quick and you can usually find the story that you are looking for, as long as it's been in the past couple of days

Monday, March 01, 2004

In the interests of facilitating further "asynchronous" discourse on this blog, it might be nice if the blog had a comment provider, so that individual comments can be traced more easily to their original inspiration. What does everyone think? With enough interest, I doubt it would take much convincing to get Prof. Downey to put one up.

From what Katrina stated earlier today, I also agree with certain aspects of Rheingold's text. The fact that he used the WELL and was able to find an answer concerning his daughter's tick before he received a phone call from the pediatrician shows how the internet can actually be quite helpful in certain situations. I agree with Katrina because I always check online and look up different symptoms if I feel like I may be getting sick to see what it could be and how I could possibly cure it without going to a doctor. However, this may become an obsession with hypochondriac's because there may be too much information for them to find online which could cause them to freak out for no reason. In general, the internet does have many different helpful resources that can end up saving people time and money.

The concerns with virtual communities are just and hold true in most situations. But as far as people who really need to communicate with anyone about very serious subjects, like their sick child, well they just really need to "talk." Luckily the Internet is an outlet for them to express what they truly need to say, but are not ok saying in person to someone they know.

The Internet provides a unique sense of identity security that doesn't exist in the real world with the exception of confessional conversations where a person talks behind a screen. But the biggest danger that is apparent in both a virtual community like the Leukemia discussions, or a simulated world like Habitat or the SIMs is the danger of trust. As hard as you may try to trust someone you've never met, is it truly possible?
Can you fully trust the advice or actions of someone you've never met?

I feel that in some cases you can, but in most you cannot. Or at least if you take their advice, and you meet them later you will feel better about your decision to trust them if you enjoyed them in person. There is a unique interaction that occurs when people interact and although it is by 'games' like Habitat and SIMs and modified physically by chat rooms, Trust is one aspect of life that does not transfer from the physical world to the virtual world. Trust is gained only in the day-to-day, face-to-face interaction people make everyday. Even though your security on the Internet and in game is constantly reassured, you never completely trust the source.
One random example, every time you buy something online, the thought that someone my find your credit card online still exists. The trust is just not completely there. There are the necessary precautions you take to protect yourself such as firewalls etc. But if they do get your number and use your card, it was all done behind your back with you having no idea that they are stealing from you. Then you realize you really cannot trust anyone online because you don't know him or her as a person.
But in real life, if your credit card is stolen from you, you are part of the problem, you left your purse open and they snuck it out, or you dropped it and they picked it up. It happens right there in front of your face and it is your fault. We don't trust all the people around us and that is why we protect our belongings, but we do trust people that we know and are close to us. We'd let them watch our things and give us advice because we trust them as a person.

I really believe that no matter the security, you cannot completely trust anyone you don't know on the Internet.

I totally agree with Josh that cyberspace and mass media can depersonize (break down)the relationship human beings. But in some aspects, we have to accept it. I will give an example for you, we all take this class near two moths but I don't know who you are. I know you by your ideas posted in the web log and I discuss something with you. Sometimes, we have to accept this cause we live in the world related the development of technology. The important thing is how people adjust it? Don't depend too much upon technology and try to have more social relations (physical relations). With both, we will have a better and comfortable life.

wow -- I went home for the weekend and there's been a lot of posts since, so I’ll try to add some and respond to some. i honestly don't think online discourse is as bad as I stated, I was just trying to go a little overboard to get some conversation going. Implied in that post, however, was that any content on the internet is media. I think that's the most interesting thing ... if you go talk to someone about Bush at a Howard Dean meeting, no one but those who are there will hear your ideas. Although, Nichols says otherwise, i think the internet has the potential to circumvent the "main narrative" and add to dialogue. We've already seen that with blogs -- how blogs such as talking points memo and daily kos help senators raise money, serve as a source for information for users -- while still just being a journal.

I totally agree w/ Derek. As it stated in Telecom and the City, people spend seven years of their lives in front of a TV, a passive medium. If you were in VR, this would constitute a meaningful part of your life -- you'd be in the soap opera of your choice (passions.. just kidding), find the cure for cancer, run for president, in the virtual reality. While meeting others in this world may be meaningful, there's a world outside that needs tending to.

But... it seems like things are much more organized on the grassroots level than they used to be. The protests against the war in Iraq were coordinated quickly by many groups -- who constantly said it wouldn't have been possible without the internet. With civil engagement however, you can't just have a few involved people, you have to engage those who may not otherwise care. These people, I think, will be missing from future civil engagement when they can just go to, as Derek said, their virtual proms. It was evident, for example, in the Iowa Caucuses that the Dean supporters "weren't from around here." People came from all over to spread the Dean gospel, but Iowans were turned off by that -- there was good Dean organization, but little Iowa organization. So, organization may not be the key aspect in making an online community that can be translated offline.

Also in Telecom and the City, as Paul stated, was the packaging and selling of cities. Plazas, town squares and other aesthetically pleasing things go up to attract business, but I found it interesting that parts of the town are purposefully segregated -- as in Houston's tunnel for businessmen. As geography and time disappear, it becomes increasingly easy to ignore those who we can now avoid.

I totally agree with Josh that cyberspace and mass media can depersonize (break down)the relationship human beings. But in some aspects, we have to accept it. I will give an example for you, we all take this class near two moths but I don't know who you are. I know you by your ideas posted in the web log and I discuss something with you. Sometimes, we have to accept this cause we live in the world related the development of technology. The important thing is how people adjust it? Don't depend too much upon technology and try to have more social relations (physical relations). With both, we will have a better and comfortable life.

I agree with P in that it is unfair to dismiss online discoursed entirely, and with Josh that it is appropriate in specific situations, but I feel online conversations are for the young. The Internet is an easy way to express yourself. You can take the risks you normally wouldn't, because you're simply not standing in front of the person. The communication that occurs over the Internet is free of stress caused by talking face to face.
Morningstar and Farmer suggest, through Habitat's structure, that in a virtual world people seek "richness, complexity and depth," but at the same time their goal for communication between machines is "to take place primarily at the behavioral level (what is there rather that what it looks like)." That seems to be a complete contradiction. Consider that the Internet cannot be complex and work primarily at a behavioral level. That is not possible.
However, I feel the behavioral level they suggest is very accurate to the current status of the Internet. And I feel that is why the Internet is so successful in the pre-teen/teen ages. As you get older the world becomes more complicated as you learn, question and experience more. As I get older I consider all of the ways I analyze my life, and my future. But when I was younger everything was a lot easier to explain, happy or sad, good or bad, mean or nice. Simplicity fades as you get older, and in many ways I feel the Internet is trapped in the simplistic stage describing things by functional models rather than physical or emotional expressions.
I feel that as you get older you begin to out-grow the Internet. Checking email used to be fun because it was exciting letters from friends or fun forwards. Now forwards clog your school email, and emails are from professors or group project members reminding you of all the work that must get done. IM used to be a social event with all of your friends, now its difficult to find anything in common with some of your best high school friends and IMs tend to be forced conversations that you can't wait to end. As you get older the Internet becomes less of a toy like it was in your youth, and becomes more of a tool. At least that's what happened for me.

Derek and Charmaine both discussed the lack of emotion conveyed in online discourse. I think it is interesting how we adapt to a lack of emotional discourse. For instance, ALL CAPS MEANS WE ARE PISSED OFF. With instant messenger and other messenging services, we have the smiley emoticons that are supposed to help convey our feelings. But, even with these items, we cannot fully understand the emotional context in which we are conversing online. There are many a times when I was on instant messenger and someone took something I said the wrong way or vice versa because text is just that--text. In books, it is different because you can frame the discourse with what is surrounding it. It would look quite silly if you framed your instant message. As Charmaine said, instant messaging is great for fast talking and fun, but if you need to have a serious conversation, face to face is always the best.

I have to say that Rheingold had a lot of insightful comments and text throughout his text (and in terms and language I could understand). One thing I thought was interesting was his comment about his daughter getting the tick and finding information through the Well (Rheingold) versus calling the pediatrician (his wife). This brings up a wonderful point: our method of obtaining information since the infiltration of the Internet has changed dramatically. I can relate to Rheingold because when I'm sick, rather than calling the nurse at UHS first, I look online at my symptoms and then determine if I am sick enough to go to the doctor. The Internet then enables each of us to be quasi-experts on things that we could never be expert about without its vast body of knowledge.

I thought that the posts on the SIM's were quite interesting. While interesting, it brings up a point made in Telecommunications and the City, with technology, especially the Internet, the individual can dissociate one's self from others, which creates a barrier. If these individuals are living through the Sim's and this virtual world, they will lose touch with the real world and create this barrier as described in the text. Just as Josh said, the "techies" he worked with lost their civic engagement and became immersed in this virtual world.

In Telecommunications and the City, they discuss the myth of universal telephone service. This includes the wide acception that telephones are universal in households and they are "anonymous objects," taken for granted as part of the everyday environment. I believe that this is a position now taken over by computers and the Internet. The internet has infiltrated our lives and society, but we must maintain the fact that computers and the Internet are not universal, instead they are still a unit of priviledge.

I would like to make a response to Jeanette's lastest post. I completely agree with the fact that communication choices depend on comfort levels. Several people choose to converse online because they feel more at ease and do not feel any type of presssure as they may when speaking in public. However, some people become quite obsessed with instant messanging and blogging and forget the importance of interacting with others in different situations other than cyberspace. This is not a huge concern, but I feel if some kids start at a young age, they could have more difficulties making true friendships because they absorb themselves in cyberspace and completely forget about the atmosphere around them. I suppose this may not be a huge concern at the moment, but the more cyberspace becomes a larger part of our lives daily, people will be turning to it without considering other alternatives such as turning to their own communities for advice and conversation as Chris discussed a few days ago.

Josh said what most everyone is trying to get at, in the simplest of terms: "it seems that as long as we recognize which types of discourse are best suited for the internet, and which are best suited for face-to-face interaction, we can get the best out of both." Sometimes these communication choices depend completely on comfort levels, which I can attest to, as I am posting far too late in the discussion. Just like learning styles, there are communication styles which people adopt and have varying levels of skill at. One person may be comfortable with their method, and when another is explained to them, it is too difficult to adapt to another way of thinking. One person seeing jazz in a Kandinsky painting may be another person's "drawing by a five year old." As for communicating with others, some may have trouble speaking to others because of confidence, and find their confidence in Neverwinter Nights, and would rather have their fun with that than a big loud bar full of dumb people who's only communication is to try to pick someone up. In the world of blogging or putting their words on the internet, it is easy to feel that your words are just going out into the void, with access for any and all. Or, someone could easily give their screename and password for Blogger to someone else so that they would not be held responsible for their homework. Fraud is very easy. Some might call it fantasy.
In regards to all of the civic involvement comments, maybe if people who choose to bowl alone never leave their houses, never get involved with anything, never get concerned about taxes, don't give a damn about their rights or other people's rights, they should be considered hopeless, and those of us that do care, will have more of an opportunity to speak our minds. Cyber-darwinism: if the electronic cottage model is our future, those who are capable of communicating and understanding over the web, then they will survive in the new methods of civic involvement...meetup...Moveon. next stop ISD #834 board elections? Kirsten's involvement is a testament to just that - - it just depends on the candidates for the success of the movement, I suppose.