Just another UMW Blogs weblog

Hands-On

Exploring Wikipedia

Described right on Wikipedia’s very own Wikipedia entry on itself, Wikipedia is a free, web-based, collaborative, multilingual encyclopedia project.  Wikipedia is built on the MediaWiki open source wiki software platform, designed to be easily editable so that anyone can contribute to the wiki.  MediaWiki, like most wiki software, abstracts the HTML coding that is used to display each entry, and instead replaces it with an easier to use, lightweight wiki markup language.  The content that resides on Wikipedia is governed and managed by volunteers, who look out for unsavory activity and maintain the quality of the wiki.  Most of the entries are under the Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY-SA) and the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL), while some text or images have been imported under CC-BY-SA and CC-BY-SA-compatible license.

Contributing to a Wiki

I’ve used Wikipedia many times for looking up general information about many different topics, but I had yet to contribute anything to any Wiki as of today.  After an easy signup for the CPSC Wiki for UMW, I went to the Wiki entry for our class (CPSC 104 SumerSession1 2010) and began editing right away.  With a partner, I worked on Improvements to UMW as a bulleted list., and Improvements to UMW as a numbered list., and I will not be held accountable for any information or opinion found on either of those pages.  Editing these pages was really easy, and being familiar with HTML coding and web applications, seeing how wiki markup translated to HTML was interesting to me.

As an example, I well show an example of wiki markup, its HTML equivalent, and then the displayed result.

*Campus parking availability
**More spaces for visitors without stickers
**More lenient hours for late times, weekends and holidays

<ul><li>Mailboxes

<ul><li>Shared mailboxes are inconvenient

</li><li>Commuter students should not be required to have an on-campus mailbox

</li></ul>

</li></ul>

Wiki markup can be used to create headings, links, quotes, equations, display images, and for many other uses needed in an online encyclopedia.  Due to this ease of use, its easy to see why so many people actively contribute to sites like Wikipedia, and why Wikipedia is the monster of an encyclopedia that it is, with 15 million articles in 262 languages.

Social Networking

Social networks are quite the thing in today’s world.  Most people now are familiar with the subject, and most people use at least one of them.  More than 400 million people actively use Facebook, according to statistics found on the site.  With that many users, the sheer amount of information stored on Facebook is mind boggling.  Privacy on Facebook is a big concern, and rightly so.  Recently, some instant messages from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg surfaced that show the CEO offering user’s information out to an unnamed source as if it were no big deal, and it’s quite obvious that this isn’t a particularly unusual event for the CEO when read in context of the exchange.

Zuck: Yeah so if you ever need info about anyone at Harvard

Zuck: Just ask.

Zuck: I have over 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses, SNS

[Redacted Friend’s Name]: What? How’d you manage that one?

Zuck: People just submitted it.

Zuck: I don’t know why.

Zuck: They “trust me”

Zuck: Dumb fucks.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/well-these-new-zuckerberg-ims-wont-help-facebooks-privacy-problems-2010-5#ixzz0opABIbDp

This comes right along with numerous other calls for concern regarding privacy and the security of Facebook users’ information.  It’s clear that when putting any information on the internet, one should really think about who might just get that information.  Social networks are great, but until laws and regulations are set in place to protect users, the amount of information you leave in the hands of strangers should be reconsidered.

Hands On

As per our class “Hands On” activity pertaining to social networking, I took a look at three different social networking sites.

I’ve known about the micro-blogging service Twitter for some time now.  Whenever I hear the word “twitter” or “tweet”, or other such word in reference to the online service on a television program, I generally cringe.  I feel that news programs and other media outlets abuse and over exaggerate the importance and impact of new trends frequently, but I am aware of this prejudice and I am able to acknowledge the use and possible importance of a service like Twitter.

In the past, I have used Twitter for various reasons.  During the spring semester, in the midst of the many snow storms and school closures, I had various troubles with my internet connection.  At one point, I was unable to connect to the UMW website, and therefore could not view any updates that had been posted in reference to the status of the university for a particular day.  I checked other websites for this information, but I was uncomfortable relying on unofficial websites as their information may not be the most up-to-date, and some of these sites had displayed conflicting information at one point or another.  After some good old-fashioned googling, I was able to find tweets from faculty and students, who often would use a tag such as #UMW to label their post as relevant to UMW, and was able to have a better knowledge of the school status for a certain day.  On occasion, I have also checked twitter for updates on software or other news related to technology.   Tweeters (How many ways is it acceptable to use “tweet” as word?) I find interesting in this case have been googleio, chromebrowser, and google.  What can I say?  They do some cool things over there at Google.

In class today, we were tasked with registering an account on Twitter and getting a general feel of the communication service.  Since I’m already familiar with how to use the website, I found it easy to sign up and search for information.  As a fan of Stephen Colbert, I found it hard not to become a follower of his account, StephenAtHome.  After completed that task, I went on to searching Twitter for global issuese with queries like “oil british” and “oil bp“, or using tags in queries like “#oil #bp” and “#ash #volcano“, one finds quite a few unpleased tweets.

Thus has been my experience with the micro-blogging service Twitter, a very useful means of communication, information distribution, trend discovering, and news contribution.  This is not to say that in its form and use today that I wholeheartedly approve of its function and purpose, but I see potential and believe it is useful when used in an appropriate manner.  I don’t know who thought it was a good idea for news programs to read tweets during a national television broadcast instead of doing actual reporting or quality journalistic work, but maybe I’m just missing something.

Credits for image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/carrotcreative/ / CC BY 2.0

Wikipedia: Blog

After reading the Wikipedia article on blogs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blog), most of which included information I was already aware of, I was surprised as to the amount of trouble and harm various bloggers have stumbled into because of their blogs or particular posts, comments, or statements they had made.  A few interesting bloggers and events mentioned in the article were:

Clubs on umwblogs.org

In search of an up-to-date blog here at umwblogs.org, I went to http://clubs.umwblogs.org/ and found a group called “The Geography Club Blog!“.  After scanning the contents of the blog and its about page, I found out that the club was for geography majors and friends of geography at UMW.  The blog highlights and advertises upcoming events and/or offers  important to the geography majors at UMW, along with relevant news to geography majors.

Blogs and Computer Science

There are countless examples of blogs that may be found which have an impact on my major, computer science.  These blogs cover many different subjects and have many different uses.  There are many blogs that cover new releases and rumors of consumer electronics (Gizmodo, Engadget), and then there are blogs of a much more technical and dry manner, such as the Google Chrome Releases blog, used mainly as a change-log for releases of the Google Chrome web browser.

Blogs Related to My Major

Blogs with a more direct impact on (or relevance to) computer science include:

This a a ribbon circle.

A ribbon circle.

This is a ribbon circle.  I know how to upload images to blog posts.

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