Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Key Components to a Webpage

For today's class I have read chapter 3 of The Internet: The Basics, which was written by Jason Whitaker. As shown in the article, there are many key components that help someone to creating a good website. Such factors as text/hypertextuality, digital imaging, and audio-video(AV).

Hypertext as we may know allows to jump from one article to another, whether you click on a hyperlink or a picture. To be allowed this jump from one place to another, the Web relies on HTML and HTTP; this is the formatting language that the computer runs on (Whitaker). It is always important to include useful links and not to something that is irrelevant to your page.

Along with all the new advancements of web pages and their new capabilities, text still has critical role. Not only what you say has to be important, but the way it is laid out on the webpage matters as well. The text has to be able to say whatever the videos, pictures and audio cannot, or else the website can be a repeat of itself. The way you display your text also weighs heavily on the viewer of your website. You do not want use colors that blend into the background which make it hard to see or create a font which is too big or too small. Sans serif font can usually be the best, because it is a "proportional font which use chracters that take up only as much space as they require (Whitaker, p. 80)."

Since technology has advanced from analog to digital, it has become easier to upload images to a webpage. The size of the files have decreased due to the fact the file has become compressed. You can compress a file nearly to half its size without losing important qualities of the image (Whitaker). Vector images are not only smaller in size, but are based on mathematical equations(Whitaker). Therefore, if you resize a picture to be smaller or bigger the equation changes to to keep the image just as clean without any distortion. Digital imaging has these benefits over analog, but at the same time it is easier to alter pictures. So you should not always believe what you see. And ther person creating their website should not a use false pictures to deceive his or her viewers.

Audio files that once were on analog also became compressed files just like photos, making the files much smaller and easier to send and upload. The creation of MP3 and web radio have become so popular they outweigh the combination of text and image which have dominated the web for almost the past decade (Whitaker). The creation of Real Time Streaming Protocol (RTSP) allows the viewer of a webpage to hear clips and parts of the song before song is completely downloaded (Whitaker). Personally, as a musician I prefer the quality of analog music over digital. Digitization of music takes away the crisp, raw quality of a track; it makes the song sound thinner and less filling.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Computer Communities: Conflict and Cooperation

For today's class, I read Kollock and Smith's chapter "Managing the Virtual Commons. Within this chapter, the problem of conflict and cooperation in computer communities is discussed. Now that communication is available through the computer, relationships are not only face-to-face or through the telephone like they once have been; a new form of social relationships has been created. There is one major concern within this new scope of interaction, and that is the free-rider problem. Taking someone's thoughts and ideas and not contributing your own is always an easier route. This causes a dilemma within computer-mediated communication.

The Usenet provided a public forum for news groups and public discussion. Groups are allowed communicate and interact through posts or threads, but unlike emails, a post in response to someone is visible to the whole group and not just that single person. Similar to the concept of blogging in this class; a person reacts to an article they have read through a blog but it is visible to the whole class and not just the professor. Cooperation in these groups has to be established so that there is a clear and common goal within a group. Being off topic and having lack of focus can steer off the coordination of that group, at the same time destroying the value and meaning of interaction. Free-riding can be a strain on the process of useful interaction and information. For example in a group of four people, if one is free-riding that is 25% decline in the group effort and less is accomplished. On the other hand, if it is large group free-riding is easier to accomplish. I am sure I am not the only person who was in a large group for school or other activities where one or two people in large group made no effort and received the same credit for effort.

Computer-mediated communication, like anything else has both positive and negative aspects. It becomes easier to monitor and watch other peoples actions, but harder to keep track of people who take the "free-ride." The creation of the Usenet made it possible for people to connect for common interests, just as we now have our own websites of preference that we go to, to communicate with others (facebook, myspace, ESPN, CNN, etc.). It is not fair that someone can take information from you but not contribute anything back; the problem of free-riding will probably never go away, but there are alternative methods of blocking or preventing people from participating.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Internet: A Class Of Its Own

In our society there are many inventions and technologies that make our lives faster and easier. The Internet stands out from all the rest. It is a blend of everything right at your hands for your use and personal gratification. The Internet has come a long way from when it first began, but today can do practically anything you need to do right from your seat at home. You have access to television, radio, the news/other relevant information, video, messaging and email, video games, office programs and so much more.
It was not always this easy to operate the Internet until about fourteen years ago. The Internet was based on commands and key terms just to be able to navigate and get whatever you were looking for. In nineteen ninety four, the creation of the World Wide Web (WWW) turned the world around. This was "a hyper-textual, multimedia interface to the Internet (Adams & Clark)." You may ask yourself what that exactly means; now everything was possible with a click of a mouse. You can type in which website you wanted to go to and it will take you there. You are also allowed to look back and forth between multiple sites. You can practically find anything you want, but you should be careful because you always want a dependable source. Hypertext markup language (HTML) along with the WWW makes browsing the Internet an easier task. With HTML you can click on a photo or a text that will lead you to another source or website related the same topic you are interested in, streaming you into more information and depth on your interest. With the technology becoming even easier, it is that much more simple for you to create a website yourself if you desire. The Internet is the "Information Superhighway" and the World Wide Web is what gets you on it.
But, not only are you able to receive information like other sources you are able to interact. The Internet is very interactive, and many people can communicate through websites and programs like America Online (AOL), Instant Messaging (AIM), and Electronic Mail (E-Mail). Many if not most of us use these programs to communicate between one another; send each other pictures, messages or anything else. If you read an article on the Internet you can post feedback and post your opinion along with the opinions of others. People can have personal profiles on websites such as MySpace or face book where they can socialize with people they know or meet new people. People can also go on dating websites to meet their special other. The Internet is a source to not only interact with others but present yourself. Even writing "blogs" such as these, people can communicate back and forth if they have something in common or express themselves to why they disagree with a certain point. Today it is even possible to have a conversation through audio and video with someone on the other side of the country or even the planet. This can give conversations between people a clearer understanding since Emails and AOL do not have body language or non verbal cues (Adams & Clark). Businesses can hold conferences through the Internet with a company on the other side of the map. The Internet has made a breakthrough in personal communication with people around the world, you are not only able to speak to someone in an instant but you can see them as well.
Search engines are also a handy tool that makes the Internet easier to browse. You do not even need to know the website you are looking for, you can type a keyword in the search box and find endless amounts of articles related to your search. You may not only find what you were looking for but more. Search engines such as Yahoo or Google have made "surfing" the Internet so much easier than before. You can receive websites, images, videos and more just off the search off of one word. Unlike television or the radio you are not only able to receive information but you are able to get more in depth with whatever your interests are, you can research your interests. Once again, with HTML links in websites you are connected to many other sources for that same topic. You can even find books and do your work without going to the library; it is crazy to think how much information is in your grasp. Everyone can be connected to so much media and information than ever before as long as they know how to find it.
All of these characteristics make the Internet easier to function and communicate with each other, but speed plays a role in the Internet process as well. Being able to receive data, websites, pictures, videos etc. has become faster now than ever before. With the speeds available today with the use of cable and DSL, you can download videos, music, texts and so much more in the matter of seconds and a few minutes. Your message from your home sent to family in another country can be received in less than a minute. It is astounding how quick everything can go from one point to another. We can have faster than-synchronous communication, because we are able to download or retrieve information much faster than we can ever view or read the material itself (Adams & Clark). Packet Switching is how’s these messages can travel so quickly. The formulaic message attached to each packet is telling where the packet to go. Not only making the process faster but more reliable as well. "It knows where it is going, and it can find any route among hundreds of possibilities to get cannot really block it because it since the system is designed to work around blocks automatically (Adams & Clark)." If the address is wrong and does not exist the mail comes back to you just like a letter would if the address was wrong on an envelope.
Today we live in a digital world. Analog has been used for a long time prior but the switch has been made, even the recording of music has moved to the digital process as well as the Internet. When running through a digital process everything is much more compact and you are able to store more because files are encoded through binary codes (Adams & Clark). Like a CD that is scratched, the whole CD can be affected by this one glitch. The digital process is not affected by wear and tear. Instead of going to the sore and buying music you can download a song or even an album even quicker through the Internet. The MP3 format in music has made it possible to put over 100 songs on the same CD because all the files are highly compressed. This destroys the old barriers of having 84 minutes of music on a CD. These compressed files are made easy to send and even easier and quicker to receive. "A website can have video, audio text, graphics and any other digital content all connected and blended together (Adams & Clark)." With rapid rate of growth of the Internet, all of this digital content is made easier to control, receive and send. Although corrupt files may ruin a file or a few of them, it is far easier to retrieve it again than the worry of ever losing it.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

How the Internet is a Communication Medium

The internet can satisfy many needs of the person who is using it. Whether it is to download a song, get the news, check your e-mail, or look at a company's website. The internet can fulfill many interpersonal and mass mediums, so it is quite hard to give it one label (Adams & Clark). A combination of satisfying both interpersonal and mass mediums is call macromedium (Adams & Clark). On the other and you also have metamedium which is a smaller scale; "it enables us to operate on both ends of traditional mass media (Adams & Clark)." You can have access to radio, video and telephone through the use of internet at the touch of a finger. As with the invention of new tehcnologies, there are always some difficulties. One in particular is reliability, because receiving the message is only half the struggle. The message also has to be correct and cannot be lost in translation. Formulaic packets allows the massage to be transmitted from one point to the next. "Now it was approaching levels of reliability necessary for the transfer of digital data (Adams & Clark)." The next issue was speed. From the 1970's until 1991 the speed had increased to 45Mbps. At this speed it was possible to transmit thousands pages of texts, hundreds of photos and even half a minute of videos per second (Adams & Clark). Just think of when we were growing up, we had a slow connection of 56K (dial-up), and now we have cable and DSL which allow us to download songs, videos and even movies within seconds or a few minutes. Last but not least is the problem with distribution. Although there over 50 million hosts on the internet, that does not mean there are 50 million people with computers to gain access to their websites. Many people use computers through alternative sources such as schools/colleges and libraries (Adams & Clark). "People living in urban areas have more internet service providers and lower rates than people living in rural areas (Adams & Clark)." So it is hard to say who has access to the internet at all times and who does not, but there is always a way to get your hands on it. The internet has become very multimediated by combining many different sources together. You can get videos, texts, television, video games and even the radio all through the computer. It is amazing to think how one technology can combine so many spearate sources of media that we used through our lives. Hypertexing also plays a key role on the internet. "It is the ability to link any type of content to any other type of content (Adams & Clark)." Just clicking on a word may bring you somewhere just a clicking on a picture might take you somewhere else, you are connected to other sources through your source (Adams & Clark). The internet is very interactive in many different aspects. You can talk to people through AIM, AOL or e-mail, you can create a website for others to view and interact with as well interacting with someone elses. You can subscribe to letters and emails for your interests, it is amazing at how many different ways you can interact with others. Digitalization has also impacted computers greatly. Like the example given in the text, cd's or record players can be affected by a scracth and have to worry about 'wear and tear,' where as digital does not because it does not physically physically come in contact with the medium (Adams & Clark). But digital has to worry about a virus or a corrupt file which can delete or ruin whatever your file consists of (Adams & Clark). It is interesting to see how far computers/internet has come from what it had once been. Communicaiton is much easier and rapid and information is at your fingertips, you can sit glued to your chair for hours and get the same enjoyment of listening music, watching movies, getting the news and updates all from one media source. Speed of the internet is always increasing and getting your hands on anything becomes faster and easier.