Wednesday, March 24, 2010

My new media class so far

This is an interesting class and quite different from other classes. I have done much more than I had expected from myself: blogging, tweeting, working with SN sites, reading, researching, working on the project and several other minor assignments. I still have not worked much on the class wiki but hope to have more time to work on it during the spring break. I feel like I spend more time than I should on this class rather than on the other classes I have this semester (auditing, for instance). I am getting better at my time-management. The assignments are due every Tuesday and Thursday which leaves little room for procrastinating, even though I still manage to leave everyhting till very very last moment. Just a habit-can't do anything about it.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Modeling Reality with Virtual Worlds

Ususally when people think of virtual reality they think of games first. Yes, games, which include MMORPGs, do account for a big chunk of a virtual world but it is not only about games. There are different other ways virtual worlds can be used.
First, there are community-focused virtual worlds that are used for socializing rather than for gaming, like (not available now) described in the article "I've Been in That Club, Just Not in Real Life". Participants create their personal space (home or apartment) and take part in different events and activities.
Second, virtual worlds can be used for educational purposes. For example, Mokitown educates children about road and traffic safety in an entertaining manner. Virtual libraries, art galleries, museums, tutorials, meeting spaces- all serve educational purposes.
Also, I have read somewhere that virtual worlds are used in Army for training simulations.
Most virtual worlds allow users to alter, create, and build something which fosters creativity. Another good thing about virtual worlds is that they connect people who otherwise would never meet in real life. They allow people to have what they can not have in real life: better appearance, better clothes, homes, opportunity to travel around the world, etc. People with disabilities can freely socialize, have many friends , find information and support due to virtual words as described in the article "iReport: 'Naughty Auties' battle autism with virtual interaction".
Among the cons are abuse of the service, predators, safety, privacy and security (spam, viruses, etc.) issues.
As for the future of virtual words, I think more people and more businesses will be involved. May be there are benefits that are not explored yet...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Twitter Discussion

I had my first discussion on Twitter! I should say it is different from what I got used to. It was a little confusing at first to see who replied to what because it shows all the tweets in a list. In this sense, BB discussion board (BBDB) is better organized. It has topics and subtopics which makes it easier to use. I used BBDB in another class for a project and it was very helpful. There was a separate topic for that particular project where students could post their questions as new threads. You could look through the list of subtopics to find a similar question to yours and see all the replies and find the needed answer. I think it would have been much more difficult to do with Twitter.
Another thing, BBDB is available to only those students within a particular section. So there are no any outside users whereas Twitter is accessible to everyone.
Oh, most importantly, BBDB does not have such a strict character limitation as Twitter does. That is helpful especially when you try to explain someone complex things, like accounting details for certain transactions. You can not do that with 140 characters.
Of course, nothing can replace face-to-face discussion in class. It is most valuable but not quite efficient. I think this is why many prefer Twitter due to easy access any time and quick updates.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Social Networking

As I mentioned earlier, the primary purpose of social networking is to communicate and keep in touch with friends, coworkers, relatives, classmates, etc. People form small communities online that consist of individuals with similar interests. One can develop a friendship with people from around the world, learn new cultures and new things. People benefit from social networking not only due to ability to improve their social lives but also ability to find a job through business networking sites. As sited in the article “Social Networking Technology Boosts Job Recruiting” by Frank Langfitt, “social networking technology is absolutely the best thing to happen to recruiting.” Recruiters can find the right candidates within hours using keywords and extensive network of contacts in a SN site such as Linkedin. There is an opinion of Danah Boyd in the article “Is MySpace Good for Society? A Frieakonomics Forum” that proposes another benefit of creative expression and self-realization, especially for those who can not see their friends or family due to certain restrictions. That is the fascinating side of social networking.
Like anything else social networking has its “dark sides” as well. Among them are privacy and safety issues, gossip, abuse of the services, high dependency on these technologies and addiction. Some might continue the list further… There is no definitive answer whether social networking is good or bad but the fact that it affects our society is unquestionable.
Many people use these technologies not only to keep in touch with family and friends but also to network with potential employers. Many businesses use social networking for collaboration across teams. SN sites can also be used for helping other people. For example, many not-for-profit organizations use these technologies to educate people about alcohol, drugs, poverty and other issues. Those who need help get information and support due to such sites.
Some might fear that social networking technologies will lead us to the society with no face-to-face contacts in the future. In this regard I would agree with William Reader who said in the article “Is MySpace Good for Society? A Frieakonomics Forum” that social networking will never replace face-to face communication. Actually, it is very hard to predict or even imagine the way these technologies might evolve in the future. I think it would be great to be able to have one uniform online profile for all of the SN sites. As I know that many people have multiple profiles on different sites and it is very inconvenient. I do not know, may be such technology already exists…

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

SN Sites

I remember when recently I was sitting in Starbucks and there were two guys sitting next to me with their laptops. They were working on some new social networking site and asked my opinion about SN sites in general. I said I had never used them and did not have an account with any of such sites. They were so surprised with the answer and kept asking how I then communicate with my friends and relatives. I said- in person, by phone or e-mail. They were looking at me like I am from another planet…
So, until now I have never had any experience with SN sites. I just registered with a couple of them and here are my first impressions. To me all SN sites are similar with slight differences. The main purpose of these sites is to find friends, coworkers, relatives, or just people with the same interests and form your own networks. Facebook as well as MySpace and Friendster are free access “open” memberships; anyone can become a member by registering. Most sites require only a valid e-mail for that purpose.
As far as I’ve heard from friends and classmates, people use Facebook more than MySpace. There are many reasons for that but the main one I think is the security and privacy issue. Facebook has more enhanced privacy settings that allow you to control who can see your profile, contact and interact with you and you can block your profile from certain people. MySpace in this regard is a little weaker. Also, in MySpace you can personalize your profile using graphics, design layouts, special text, etc. which is not available on Facebook. Friendster did not impress me that much as I could not find anyone I know on it. I should probably use those sites for a while to be able to give better details about each.
Also, I have found an interesting SN site,, for those college students who are looking for a job. It allows only students to register and network with the potential employers. I find it very cool.
An interesting video on this topic...