Wednesday, October 22, 2008

scope and accuracy of Wikipedia

The reading on October 22, 2008 deals with the information on Wikipedia. Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia. Its content is user-generated, that is to say that the users publish information on the wiki and they do not have to be authorities on the subjects that they publish information on. This leads people to doubt the accuracy of the information on the wiki. The accuracy of the information relies on the vast number of people who use Wikipedia; the assumption is that in the long run accuracy will triumph because people will continually edit the information until it is right. The reading says that compared to the Encyclopedia Britannica, Wikipedia is considerably accurate.


The next section of the reading talks about a study used to examine the completeness of Wikipedia’s encyclopedia. The issue in question is whether or not Wikipedia covers all topics equally or if there is bias in the focus of information posted on Wikipedia. The study used word count to quantify how complete each chosen topic was covered. In most cases recency was the biggest predictor of how well a topic was covered. That is to say those more recent topics were covered more thoroughly than older ones. These discoveries further supported the fact that Wikipedia is a socially produced document rather than a value-free information source.

The fact that recency is the biggest predictor of well how well a topic is covered should be no surprise. The people who post information on Wikipedia are relatively young and are going to be more concerned with current issues that affect them and things that they are interested in. Take for instance the study on the coverage of Time’s man of the year. If Wikipedia had been around thirty years ago I bet Times man of the year for that year would have been important enough for some to write just as much as someone else did for this year’s man of the year. Then it would still be in the encyclopedia today. But because Wikipedia was not around back then no one is going to write as much about thirty years ago Time’s man of the year as they would for today’s Time’s man of the year. Only time will tell but I am under the impression that once a topic is talked about in Wikipedia it is there forever.

Bibliography

Royal, C., Kapila, D. (in press). What’s on Wikipedia, and what’s not…? Social Science Computer Review.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Relevant sources for an Essay on Youtube

When searching for information on the Internet, one must be very skeptical of the results he/she comes across. With all of the biased, incredible information on the Internet, it is almost an art to be able to pick out what information is good, and what is not. I chose to research the Web 2.0 medium Youtube to demonstrate how to properly conduct a search, and then evaluate the search engines that I decided to use, and quality of the sources that I came up with during the searches. I will be using three search engines/ databases for the purpose of this essay and evaluating ten sources I found through these search engines. Out of the ten sources I picked, only a few were relevant to research that I was conducting.


The first source that I found was from Google’s advanced search. The term Youtube was typed in the “All these words” section then history was typed in the “This exact word or phrase” section. One hundred and forty six million results came up for the search terms Youtube “history”. The article I used was named “Youtube- The complete profile”. It was found on Rev2.org. I would not use this source in a research paper because of how old it is. Youtube was launched in February 2005, so it is a rather new Web 2.0 medium. Although this article has a lot of good information it does not have a complete history. The article, being two years old, is considerably old when the topic I am researching is less than four years old.


The next result I received from Google’s advanced search was from the site Hitwise and was written by Bill Tancer. I obtained this source by searching with the terms “Youtube” and “demographic.” Like the last source I received, this source had a lot of good information. However it was very out dated. When researching demographics you are interested in how current the information is. What demographics visited the site back in October 2006 might not be what demographics visit the site now.


The third result I received from Google’s advanced search was from Forbes.com and it was titled “Your tube, whose dime?” I retrieved this source by using the terms “Youtube” and “how Youtube makes money.” This source was good and you know that you could count on it being credible because it was written be Dan Frommer, a technology reporter that focuses on the wireless, telecom, and networking industries. This source was too old and should not be used. The article is from April 2006 and it talks about how they are not really making any money now but are devising new ways to start making money. The problem is that it has been two and a half years since the article was written and by now they have enacted some of these plans to make more money from Youtube. But the article does not encompass any of them because of how old it is.


The last source that I retrieved from Google’s advanced search was an article from the Washington Post. I found it by searching with the terms “Youtube” and “profits and revenues.” I would use this source because it is very current compared to all the other sources I had been coming up with. The purpose of this source is strictly to inform so there is no bias. It also comes from a credible source.


The next search I conducted was through The University at Albany’s database, Minerva. This search produced a book called Youtube 4 you by Michael Miller. I obtained this source by simply doing a title/ subject key word search for the term “Youtube.” I would use this source because Michael Miller is a much respected writer when it comes to new technologies and how to use them. The book presents some historical and technical background but is mostly about how to use Youtube.


The next source that I am evaluating is form The University at Albany’s EBSCO database. The source was obtained by using the term “Youtube.” It is a very current and informative article. It talks about how Youtube is starting to offer full length TV shows on their site with ads in them, as commercials if you will. This is an idea that will help them generate more revenue. This source is relevant to what I am researching and I would use this in a research paper.


The next source I obtain was from AltaVista by using the terms “Youtube” and “history.” It was from Wikipedia.com and was titled “History of YouTube.” The article was updated on October 6 2008. I would not use this source for a research paper because you can not verify the validity of information that you get from Wikipedia. Anybody can post articles on Wikipedia and the subsequent information can be false.


The second source that I obtain from AltaVista was titled “Who’s watching your videos? Youtube now offers free demographics." The article was obtained by using the terms “Youtube” and “demographics.” This article does not talk about the demographics of the viewers of Youtube rather a new feature that Youtube offers that allows people who post videos to see who is viewing them. I would use this article in a research paper because the author, Marshall Kirkpatrick, is a respected internet consultant and the article is current.


The next source that I evaluated was from AltaVista and it was titled “Aussies: turn Youtube into your own money tube.” The search terms that I used were “Youtube” and “how Youtube makes money.” I would not use this source in a research paper because it focuses on promoting a new program to make money through Youtube and is biased towards the program.


The last search that I tried to conduct on AltaVista used the terms “Youtube” and “profits and revenues.” The search came up with nothing relevant. Every result that came up was an actual video clip from Youtube and had nothing to do with Youtube’s profits and revenues.


I feel the best search engine/ database for the research I conducted was AltaVista.com. AltaVista gave me the most relevant current search results. Google on the other hand gave me numerous outdated articles that I really could not use for a research paper. The University at Albany’s databases provided me with a relevant book and article however the databases did not have breadth of information on the topic I was researching.
I found that the best search term for researching Youtube was just the search term “Youtube” itself. Doing advanced searches with boolean operators did not provide me with any more relevant, credible search results. Take for instance the University at Albany’s databases, when I used more then the just the term “Youtube” the search would not even produce results.


When doing internet searches it is very important to use good search engines/ databases as well as carefully choosing good key words for the search. As one can see from the results my searches produced not all sources are useful in an academic research paper. It is very helpful to know what to look for when trying to find relevant, credible sources.


Bibliography

Miller, M. (2007). Youtube 4 you. Indianapolis, In: Que.

Stelter, B. (2008, October 11). Youtube to offer TV shows with ads strewn through. The
New YorkTimes,12, 67-75.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Navigating The Net

The reading for October 8, 2008 was The Role of Expertise in Navigating Links of Influence by Eszter Hargittai. The essay started out by discussing why links are important. Links are said to be important because they allocate user attention. But links can be bad as well for they can spread unsubstantiated rumors and temporarily render a system inactive because of the popularity generated by the link.

There are many types of links, some that the producers of a web site have control over and others that they do not. Links that producers have control over include links the bring people to additional information that constitutes the main content of the page and links that facilitate navigation.

Links that producers have no control over include ones that change according to the preferences and recommendations of the users. They are not stable and generally change very often. Then there are search engine companies that sell placement on their ad link section to companies that can pay the most for the position.

Next the different kinds of manipulation that content providers use to attract users to their sites were discussed. The techniques included were “Google Bombing “or setting up a “spam blog”.

The last section talked about user skill and how it was important in determining why it is that some content is viewed more or is more popular than others.

I have always wondered to myself how it was that search results were presented. You would think that search result would be presented to you based on relevance and content. Well I knew that could not be the case when I started to realized that one of the top three results for every search I had done was Wikipedia. How could Wikipedia be a relevant source for everything that you search? The answer is that it is not. You cannot even trust the content on Wikipedia because anybody can update any term in the online dictionary. So why is it at the top of almost every search you make? The reason is that Wikipedia pays to be at the top of every search you make. The more people that go to Wikipedia the more money Wikipedia can get for placing ads on their web site. So search engines are not concerned with putting you in contact with information that you need, just its own monetary needs.