Wednesday, April 9, 2008


RSS stands for Rich Summary Site or Really Simple Syndication; it is an XML format for sharing headlines and content from your favorite websites. “The name "RSS" is an umbrella term for a format that spans several different versions of at least two different (but parallel) formats” (Pilgrim, 2002, p. 1). The original .90 version by Netscape was formatted primarily for the sharing of news via portals. A simpler version followed (0.91) and was picked by UserLand software. UserLand continued to experiment with various forms of RSS until it evolved to 2.0.

Today RSS is not just for news. Anything that can be broken down and formatted can syndicate through RSS. Changing news or related information can be forwarded directly to you by RSS, thus saving the user from seeking this very information from individual web sites or blogs. RSS allows the user to keep up to date on new information from a variety of sources: sports, travel updates, latest YouTube videos or even new music on iTunes. These are only a few examples, if you are new to RSS visit “35 Ways to Use RSS” which gives plenty of useful feeds for RSS information you never knew existed, some are a little different.

When I started this RSS assignment, I had no idea what information to deliver to myself. Do I even need news updates? I read the Arizona Republic every day! Upon reading the blog, “35 Ways to Use RSS,” I found a RSS feed to NFL teams with links- perfect! I signed onto Google Reader because I already have Gmail and wouldn’t have to create yet another account. I had a little difficulty in determining how to get the feed to work but realized how easy it is when I found the subscribe button. Just click on the subscribe button on the lower left side of the home page, browse and locate RSS feeds that are compatible with Google Reader. I easily subscribed to news from USA Today, Greenbay and The Arizona Cardinals. The Arizona Cardinals news is actually a blog. I want to experience updated blog information on the Cardinals and compare any content updates or differences between a blog and news websites. Now, I can sit back and let the news come directly to me, how simple.


Introduction to RSS. (2003, April 14). Retrieved April 7, 2008, from

Pilgrim, M.(2002, December 18). What is RSS? Retrieved April 8, 2008, from

Rubel, S. (2006, June 19).Micropersuasion: 35 ways to use RSS. Retrieved April 8, 2008 from

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Second Life

Second life is a unique shared experience created in 1999 by Philip Rosedale in San Francisco. Rosedale's "Linden lab" employs over 200 people in the United States, Europe and Asia. To begin the virtual experience, each new player creates a digital onscreen character called an avatar which can be personalized with specific clothing, objects such as wild hair, wings, leather accessories etc. This is not a "game" but rather a 3-D virtual world whereby the linden grid allows a player to visit various communities, clubs, countries, entertainment circles, concerts and even create their own environment (Linden Lab, 2008).

The social network environment is how this experience is unique. The people within the game can purchase Linden dollars that can be traded for US dollar (real money!) and thus land can be purchased, businesses opened to sell merchandise, admission charged for nightclubs, software sold for specific purposes and even college courses can be attended with the students interacting in this second life community. Many players have made actual money by becoming real estate moguls, software creators, and selling of licensed games within the second life game-sounds impossible but this is happening. What makes all the above appeal to users is the fact that each character has ownership of what is created in second life. All the characters act as citizens and work together to build and form the type of community, a better virtual world in which they wish to share. Money can be spent and earned by doing this. Some have spent as much as 100,000 US dollars-real money- and others are making thousands of US dollars yearly by their inventions (My virtual life, 2006).

Working together as a community is why this is a classic example of a social network. The participants are not merely there for entertainment, although this is the appeal, but to interact with their friends, meet new people, share in travel, explore, build, sell, invest in stocks and create. Second life is entertainment, a social connection, social interaction and gives the player full ownership via property rights for their creations in the game.

If you are new to second life Youtube has a video which explains how the game works and gives a deeper insight to why one may want to entertain themselves in this game. It is titled "Introduction to Second life" and was made in the UK. View it by going to:
My character in second life character is Tulle Grun, in photo above. I began my experience by changing my generic hair and outfit to represent my style. I didn’t want to be viewed as a newbie by all the avatar people. Next, to the disco I went. The music was great but it was not a busy night in the disco, but this was a good opportunity to figure out the controls for my avatar such as sitting, standing, changing my appearance and photographing my character as well. Teleporting was my next feat and is easy to do. I traveled from the disco, to the mall, to a concert. The concert was packed and had some interesting avatar characters. At this concert is where a lot happened. Someone gave me $20 in Linden money and invited me to be part of their group. I was leery at first accepting the money but since I was broke I took the chance and was invited to join a social group as well. I am now part of Purple Angel VIP Group and have been invited to many events by e-mail communication. The only problem with many of these invites is they all cost Linden money and I am broke after spending my money on snapshots to include in this blog. Being part of this virtual experience is strange, but it does feel as though you are socializing and having something in common with others. It doesn’t feel real to me but is rather like playing a 3-D advanced game of paper dolls.

There is a downside to playing in a virtual environment. The sexual freedom characteristic involved in role playing and seeing naked people walking around (orientation especially) is weird and uncomfortable. The sexual facet is unnecessary in my view and should be eliminated; however, if this game parallels our amoral real world, sexual inclusion may actually be a draw for many users. The second aspect that I found odd is virtual Linden money being exchanged for real money and the potential for abuse in getting caught up in a virtual world spending money you don’t have. It just seems foolish to spend real money on virtual merchandise and services. This is where the virtual social experience is blurred with the real world. The whole concept is bizarre and I don’t think I would spend my real money here.

Attending class or courses in a virtual world such as second life would definitely be a new experience. I think the experience would be most useful working in groups to complete a project, more like a team building experience. This would require a good amount of time and would be better suited as a classroom exercise rather than a work related activity. Preferrably, if in a classroom in this virtual world, I would prefer a regular type classroom to start and then it would be okay to venture into other worldly introductions. Second life as a teaching tool can be useful if the class is combined with other aspects of internet, software and interpersonal interaction rather than second life alone.


Linden Lab. (2008). Retrieved April 3rd, 2008 from:

My Virual Life. (2006, May 6). Business Weekly. Retrieved April 3rd,
2008 from:

Newitz, Analee. (2006, September 1). Your second life is ready.
[Electronic Version]. Popular Science. No pagination.
Retrieved April 3rd, 2008 from:

SusiSpicoli. (2006, September 6). Introduction to Second Life.
YouTube. Retreived April 3rd, 2008 from:

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Web 2.0

Web 2.0 can be best explained as the progression or transformation, a second generation, from Web 1.0 to the new, modern era of the internet as a social network. Clearly it is not our parents’ internet anymore as this type of interactive, democratic and personal social network allows easy access and display of information for others to view, such as pictures, blogs and newgroups. It is a great symposium for direct personal commentary and mass corroboration among web users. The sources that helped me the most were O’Reilly’s article: What is Web 2.0? and the YouTube video titled, “Understanding Web 2.0” which can be viewed at: .

O’reilly explains the various areas of the web, some we are already familiar with, that are part of Web 2.0. The more popular sites include Google, Yahoo, and Amazon which are known for information retrieval. He also includes additional less common sites some web users may have used but didn’t know they were part of Web 2.0; for example, Flickr and The growing popularity of social interaction on the web is why some areas of Web 2.0 are immensely popular such as MySpace, blogging and USENET.

Flickr and are examples of sites a user can seek specific information. These two sites, as others in Web 2.0, are known to categorize their information for the user via keywords (tags) to retrieve desired information. This practice is commonly called "Folksonomy" (O’Reilly, p 2). It became popular on the web for social applications, bookmarking and tagging photographs. Information is retrieved with ease and using these applications is relatively user friendly.

Blogging is probably the most popular of Web 2.0 era due directly to the advent of recent technology such as the permalink (O’Reilly, p 3). The permalink is what allows person to person direct discussion by just clicking the mouse. Before this, links wouldn’t last for an extended period of time and adequate information was quickly lost. Now conversations can be “archived and retraced” (O’Reilly, p 3, link for permalink). This is what helps create a social interaction between people; thus, internet users can discuss among one another (in the present), share commonalities, chat, make friendships etc.

I explored all the web tools provided to us and there are a several I liked: YouTube, Flickr and many eyes. I explored them all and decided to share using Flickr. Sharing memories using pictures is one of my favorite ways to use the web. Flickr provides an easy format to download, share, view and even copy photos. If you want to see some crazy ASU fans tailgating and enjoying the win over U of A last December, see them at: .


O'Reilly, T. (Sept. 30, 2005). What is web 2.0: Design patterns and business models for the next generation of software. Retrieved February 26, 2008, from

Understanding web 2.0(March 8, 2006). . Retrieved February 27, 2008, from

Thursday, February 21, 2008


USENET is an interesting format I have not experienced before. I never new so much information and communication on random topics is available. I spent time surfing from group to group familiarizing myself with what is posted and how the network is organized. I researched what USENET is all about to give me a better idea of the forum I would be encountering. A site that provides good information for those new to USENET is:

What I like about USENET is the relaxed format. Many of the posts are informative and educational. It is like carrying on a conversation around the dinner table. There is something for everyone: politics, career/ education information, health concerns, latest medical topics, not to mention the wacky alternative areas.

I personally do not like to communicate my thoughts using USENET. There are a few things in particular that were bothersome in searching among the groups. I assumed the material would be current topics but some of the groups I observed were very dated. I intended to respond to someone seeking a profession in Dental Hygiene before I realized it was dated 2006! By now she is most likely finishing up with her schooling. To find current material, one must look for it by date and search more current newsworthy topics rather than random issues; for example Obama, McCain issues will be very current and have some interesting replies since day by day we are following their campaign movements.

A few shortcomings I encountered while using USENET: there was one political post who thought the draft was still in operation. A reply followed saying the individual was an idiot since the draft ended when Obama was a child! I ran into posted web sites that weren’t there. This created a little anger and confusion among the group. Since anyone can post this will be more common than in the groups that are moderated. While the above is frustrating, I think there is a place for this type of discussion and can be a perfect outlet for those who want to vent or intelectually reply about various topics. USENET can also be a helpful resource for specific research and personal experiences regarding medical problems or help for ailments. Overall, it is an easy way for us to converse in our modern world and some prefer to use this mode than to be fed news and stories via television.

If I had to choose to communicate using this type of style, I would investigate the WELL. I enjoyed looking through their free groups and the conversation was more intellectual in terms of material posted and topics discussed. I appreciated the in depth interviews with selected authors. This is a great forum and gives insight about the featured author and thus encourages me to explore various literature I may not be prone to reading otherwise. I especially liked Topic 321: interview with Pamela McCorduck, on her book The Edge of Chaos. She seems like a zany person and I now I am drawn to reading her book. It sounds like it may be a little bit bizarre but I am familiar with the Sante Fe area, where the story takes place, since this is one of my more memorable vacations. To read this interview:

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Internet Hoaxes

Hoaxes are becoming commonplace among internet mail, spam and phishing. While they are convincing, it will take network users working together to adequately inform those who are still emotionally responsive to these hoaxes. Hoaxes waste our time, emotional response and takes up an enormous amount of bandwith. How many times have relatives, coworkers, or friend’s forward seemingly helpful information? You may have recently received some of these most common hoaxes, now taking on legendary status:

* If you don't disinfect canned goods before opening them, you can get poisoned by residue from deadly rat droppings.

* A gang of kidnappers at malls and amusement parks (Disneyland used often) are abducting children, taking them into bathrooms, drugging them, dyeing their hair, changing their clothing, and smuggling them through exits disguised as the opposite sex. (This story was featured on episode of Law & Order, which helps keep this hoax alive.)

* If you use pancake mix beyond its expiration date, you and your family members risk a life-threatening allergic reaction from mold that can grow in it.

* Beware of car thieves in parking lots who render their victims unconscious with ether-laced perfume.
(Goldsborough, 2006)

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Beware of earning “free” money by forwarding email. A recent twist was earning a $25 gift card from Applebee’s if you forwarded the email. The claim stated that after forwarding the particular message to multiple internet users, Appleby’s will present you with a gift card when you visit their restaurant. Now, what a absurd presentation to be face to face with an Applebee’s manager trying to explain how you earned a “free” gift card just by forwarding mail.

Some of the emotional “lost children- help find them” hoaxes are the most difficult to know if they are legitimate or just a fraud. This is a parent’s worst nightmare to have a missing child so the emotional plea draws many into believing the hoax. A fraudulent site will lack necessary information such as no mention of child’s height, eye color, or clothing description when they disappeared. Warning: Do not forward without doing your homework.

There are plenty of sites online that are simple to use to determine whether a missing child story is the truth. First an online search using a search engine with the child’s missing name, or subject line will be sufficient. An alternative is to use sites set up to combat these grand missing children hoaxes. Some of these sites are:, Don’t Spread the Hoax, Hoax-Slayer, and (McAffey 2008, Goldsborough, 2006). When mail you are receiving is suspect, research it by going to Symantecs ComprehensiveList of Hoaxes at
This site lists the popular hoaxes including legends and dire warnings which continue to make their rounds online every day.

McAfee: How to avoid hoax emails. Retrieved February 7., 2008, from

Reid Goldsborough (2006, September). What to Do About Internet Hoaxes. Information Today, 23(8), 41-42.

Viruses, Spams Prevention,Uurban Legends, Hoaxes, Frauds. (2008). Retrieved February 7, 2008, from

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Netiquette Rules

Do you know all the rules for internet etiquette? I found a helpful article by Justin Smallbridge with netiquette helpful hints. Here are some valuable rules he highlighted: Shrink your vocabulary, it's okay to express emotion but keep your anger in check, and do not use all capital letters. Capital letters indicate yelling and there is already enough of this in the real world. A few acronyms are presented such as WYSIWYG- What you see is what you get. For a chuckle, there are examples of how to respond to arguments with rock-n-roll comebacks! To view this appropriately titled journal article "Always Let the Lady Download First" go to:

Smallbridge., J. (1995). `Always let the lady downloads first...'. Canadian Business, 68(5), 10.