Thursday, February 26, 2009

Module 4 Evaluating the Web tasks (2 combined)

Ok I'm doing it again, but I gotta say this task peeved me no end. This should have been amongst the first tasks not the last. Pretty poor instructional design there Curtin....

Anyway, I guess the positive thing to take away from that comment is that the task was actually quite useful. Sure a lot of the stuff kind of comes as second nature, but I did learn quite a few things. It's just that I wish I had learned them in week 1 or 2 not the penultimate day of the SP. OK nuff whingeing...

The Ohio University Tutor was a great resource and I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to take a look at the way you assess webpages. The things that I got out of it will certainly aid me in my future studies and my everyday use of the internet. I am steering away from the guidelines again here because my sites are not really relevant to the course but again, I think it is about the learning process as opposed to what site I choose. So the site I choose is the Dolphin Trail pdf.
The reading asks us to write an annotation based on the learning from the tutorial and on these criteria:
  • the reliability and authority of the site / source / article
  • the main ideas or subjects discussed in the article
  • the purpose for which the site was written (this might include any apparent external interest, intellectual motivation or contextual information)
Port River Dolphin Trail. (2005, October). . Published by the City of Port Adelaide Enfield 2005. Retrieved from

This document was created by the Adelaide Enfield Council for the purpose of providing visitors and residents of Adelaide Enfield Council with information on where to locate Dolphins in the Port River and some basic information on the dolphins themselves. The content is factual and therefore easy to corroborate. A little on the propaganda side but it is a tourism brochure. I found no links to the document but this is primarily meant to be printed and distributed after all.
Now to the last two questions:
  1. in terms of your own future use, which 'body ' of information (ie. the original 'snapshot' of the site, or your own, annotated, analytical version) would be most useful to refer back to?
  2. In term of external users (i.e. if you included this site as a hyperlink or resource on a website) which body of information would best help them judge if the site was useful or of interest to them?
I have this response:
  1. I think this is entirely dependant on the situation. The annotation is good for my own info and also I think if I was dedicated enough I would do this with every site I ever bookmarked. In reality this is unlikely to happen so a snapshot is a better option much of the time.
  2. As far as external users go, well I guess it depends on their trust and opinion of me. Probably better to leave the snapshot and the annotation, that way no problems with opinion and the external user can make their own assessment based on the two.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Module 4 Organising Search Information Task

I talked about Zotero in my last post and indicated that I should make better use of it. So here is the results. I used Zotero to record the information about the sites I chose. Now because I judiciously decided to ignore the instructions about finding pages on university websites, I needed to be a little flexible with the information I gathered and recorded. But I figure this is more about the process and trying stuff as opposed to keeping within the guidelines... right?? Oh well too late now ;)

To get the info up and out of Zotero I downloaded the Zotz plugin. This plugin allows you to upload, publish and share saved Zotero libraries. The information gets put into Citeline which is hosted by MIT libraries (you need to sign up for an account with an email address, but is very simple and quick). The result is an adaptable webpage which you can link to or download. I believe there will be other ways to share your Zotero libraries soon, but for now I think that this is an incredibly adaptable and easy to use suite of tools which is going to make citing in assignments and publishing bibliographies so much easier for my future studies. I wish I had used it in the past especially in my concepts assignment....

I took a screenshot just to make sure the results made it into here as well:

I have also now downloaded the Microsoft Word add on for Zotero which I'm sure is going to make writing my assignments in Word even easier.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Module 4 Search Tasks Combined....

All right this might seem a little bit like cheating but I like to think of it as streamlining. Truth be known, I looked at those tasks for ages and did all the reading ages ago. It just seemed like a better idea to join all the search tasks together. So I made an executive decision. The Copernic confusion also aided in this decision so hey, without further ado.

For those that didn't know, I love fishing. And I have been looking at buying a Kayak. In fact I hired one a week ago and took it out on West Lakes, so I thought I should search for something I was interested in.
kayak +fishing +"West lakes" +SA
This was the search I used. I have been using Boolean search for a long time so I thought I could cut a long story short here by cutting to the chase. I used this Boolean string to narrow the search right down to my desired sites. I did do a second search to nail down to university sites but the results were not what I was after and did not really show the desired effect.

First up Yahoo. Never a first choice by me so it gets the guernsey here in an attempt at fairness...
This is a screen shot of the first five hits on Yahoo. Number 1 hit is on
There were 571 sites indexed.

Next up Google. The screen shot shows the first five hits. Number 1 site was
There were 521 sites indexed by google.

Unsurprisingly the two results were fairly similar and were forum heavy. I added a further Boolean limiter with "-forum" to omit the forums from the results. Interestingly Google still returned 350 sites whereas Yahoo returned only 46. I am unsure of the reason for this and I think it requires further investigation. I'll get on to it soon....

Seeing there was that whole problem with Copernic, I decided I would try to find a "multiple search engine" search engine. I chose dogpile. I think it is called dogpile for a reason....

The results were a bit skewed in favour of advertised sites as opposed to organic sites. The major problem with this though was that it was initially difficult to work out that they were advertised sites. It seems to me that dogpile must raise revenue by pushing those Google ad sites up the rankings. Something else I need to investigate methinks...... Aside from the ad sites (and once you dig past them) though the results seem pretty similar to Google and Yahoo.

Module 4 Internet Tools Task

I didn't download any of these tools. Reason being I already have all the tools I need from the ones mentioned. (i.e. pretty much all the ones mentioned in the reading). I did go to download Copernic about a month ago but thanks to the discussion boards I did not waste my time with it. I do however use some tools that are not mentioned that I have found to be quite useful over the course of the SP that I thought I might share with you.

Firefox extensions
ChatZilla is an IRC chat client that is built on the Mozilla framework. I downloaded this so that I could turn my old Xbox into a media center........Yeah I know a little risky but it's a long story. The long and the short of it though is that it was a really easy to use chat client and free and got the job done for me.

I have been using this extensively to aid in developing themes for wordpress and moodle for work. It is a simple add-on that allows you to work out what the colour codes are on any web page. Very handy and time saving. It means you don't have to go looking at the source code to work out what colours a site is using if you want to duplicate them.

Web Developer
This add-on adds a toolbar with a plethora of handy web developer tools. If you haven't got this already and you want to build some websites, GET IT NOW!!! This saved me hours of time when I was building my themes for moodle and wordpress and I used it in Net11 a little when doing the HTML task. (if I had more time, I would redo the HTML task because my abilities in this area have increased hugely since doing that task) The tools I use the most are "View Style Information", "Display Ruler", "View Image Information". I think that I will use this add on more and more as my web developer skills increase.

Delicious Bookmarks

Ok I had this on my computer a long time ago but I use it so much I thought I would give it an honourable mention. Delicious has been such a useful tool for me over the last couple of years, but during Net11 it has been invaluable. This add on is a must if you want to get any value out of Delicious. It allows you to quickly and easily tag sites without having to go to Delicious to do it.

To be fair I haven't used this to it's full potential yet but I can really see it changing the way I research if I was to fully grasp it's potential. Zotero is an add-on which is designed for researchers. It allows bookmarking of sites but also gives you the ability to put in useful information for citations. This is widely used by researchers who all drool over it's usability. I think over time it may replace (or certainly supplement) Delicious for me when it comes to research.

Other Tools
There are a couple of other tools I use on a daily basis. Again, I had these already but they have proved so useful during this SP I thought I would jot down a few lines.

It is no secret that I love Twitter but if it wasn't for Tweetdeck I would hardly ever use it. Having a Twitter desktop client is a must and I have had awesome connections with my Net11 tweeps using Tweetdeck over the last few months. I love the ability to group people but the search feature is a research tool that has led me on many adventures.


This image manipulation program is free and powerful. I use it often and I think it is irreplaceable. I can't afford to buy Adobe products do I use this. GNU FTW.

There are a heap of other cool bits and bobs I use but time is precious so I will speak of them anon. ;)

Module 5 Information Ecologies (an example of a PLN)

It's 2.45am in the morning. I can't sleep. I was woken up by my 4yo son because the night light was off in his bedroom and this mid sleep wake up is often the cause of insomnia for me. If I wake enough I lie there and think about stuff. In this case it was Information Ecology. Geeky huh?

I first heard about the subject through twitter when @jamierich36 was discussing the concept with @peterfletcher and other #net11 tweeps probably a couple of weeks ago. I didn't follow the conversation too closely, mostly because my attention has been placed on work things at the lately, but I seemed to think then that this concept was associated with the idea of a PLN quite closely. This is quite ironic as it was my PLN who brought the concept in to my mind and ultimately led to my sleepless night right now.

I had budgeted some time this week to finish off module 4 tasks and was going over to webCT to assure myself of the topics I needed to write up when I started/joined a little conversation with the #net11 tweeps. These folks have become valued members of my PLN over the last few months and not just for #net11 stuff either, so a big thank you goes out to @amyty, @TessaG, @ausi1, @clogwog52, @dsko, @jamierich36 and @peterfletcher (sorry if I missed anyone, it's late and I'm tired) Anyway, as I was saying, I was having a conversation when @TessaG brought up module 5 tasks. MODULE 5 TASKS?????!!!!! I didn't see that in the tasks section of the curriculum pages in webCT!!! "There are no module 5 tasks" I say to @TessaG "Don't Freak me out!!". She says "Oh sorry I thought there were". But she got me worried. So I went back over to the webCT pages and sure enough, squirrelled away in the Module 5 curriculum is a required log entry. And a @ reply from @clogwog52 also confirmed this.

So here is an example of an information ecology at work. Or is it a PLN?

And what are my thoughts on the questions raised in the curriculum?

Here goes, firstly the questions:
  1. how might the metaphor of an ‘ecology’ impact on the way you think about, understand or use the Internet?
  2. how are the concepts ‘information’ and ‘communication’ understood within the framework of an ‘information ecology’?
  3. why don’t we talk of a ‘communication ecology’?
And my thoughts:
  1. I'm not sure it really impacts at this stage on the way I think about, understand or use the internet. The reason for this is that I relate PLN (a concept which I have discussed before in this blog and elsewhere) directly to the idea of an information ecology. That is I think they are one and the same thing, just different words to describe the same concept. I gain the information I need via my PLN. My PLN is my information ecology.
  2. The reading by Felix Stadler sums it up nicely. "Nodes and flows". I have often thought about PLN in a similar way. The people in my PLN are the Nodes. The flows are the communications and conversations we have. The tools to facilitate this communication range from Twitter to Blogger to Wikispaces to F2F to Facebook to the poker table at the local pub. The nature of the Flow might change but the result is the same. I communicate with a member of my PLN, I gain knowledge. An ecology is born.
  3. And why not a communication ecology? Let's go back to the biological roots of the concept. I think of communication as the"air" the information "breathes". With no communication, the information dies. With no air the ecology cannot exist.
Thanks to my PLN for making me aware of the need to post about this. Thanks to my PLN for keeping me up at night ;) Thanks to my Information Ecology for breathing some air in to my blog post.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Post Concept Assignment Come Down

So who's exhausted? Writing this concepts assignment has been a time consuming and difficult affair and I wonder who else would have found it all easier if we could have written twice as much on two concepts as opposed to 500 words each on four concepts. Funny how it seems to take twice as long to write half as much eh? I don't get it really but I think the reason is that 500 words is so restrictive. I put my assignment together using this process:
  • read and investigate
  • formulate some ideas of which way I want to go (I tended to adapt the concept to "my world")
  • jot down a very basic list
  • start writing
  • read some more
  • finish the assignment section
  • decide what sites to put in the annotated bibliography
  • change my mind and then find some more sites
  • go in and adjust the assignment section if necessary
  • write the annotations
  • have a beer followed by a glass of red ;)

I saw a tweet from the ever helpful and fantastic @amyty (which I took to mean was) about spending a lot of time finding a reference to fit in to her concept assignment and it sparked a conversation here with my wife (who is studying Physiotherapy at UniSA) about this practice. (sorry in advance @amyty if I misinterpreted your tweet but this is more about my interpretation than what you may have been trying to get across). Anyway, my wife said she has a uni colleague who always looks for references to back up her ideas rather than reading and investigating first and then writing about the ideas generated. My wife seemed to think that this meant that her friend learnt less because she was finding references to support her prior thinking and learning. So is this method detrimental to learning?

Well my thoughts are that sometimes you just need to support your ideas. Sure, if you write an assignment without reading and investigating and then cobble together some references to support them you will end up with a pretty disjointed bit of writing. But if you are using this practice as an add on to your pre-assignment reading, then it could be beneficial to the process. I guess in some ways this method was evidenced in my concepts assignment with the choice of site to include in the annotated bibliography. I did tend to change my assignment so I think that this aided in my learning rather than using it to support my previously held beliefs.
Love to hear what you all think.....

Friday, February 6, 2009

Concepts Assignment

Concept 33 Information and Attention

“One of the newest and most significant ways of thinking about the Internet is termed the ‘attention economy’ (Goldhaber). In this kind of economy, the most valuable commodity is people’s attention (which can be, for example, bought and sold in the advertising industry): successful websites and other Internet publications / communications (says Goldhaber) are those which capture and hold the increasingly distracted attention of Internet users amidst a swirling mass of informational options.

Searching for and evaluating information, while not especially ‘commercial’ in this sense, does involve questions of attention. The attention-capturing quality of Internet information is governed by a dialogue between the needs and desires of the reader and the readiness with which those needs and desires appear to be met in th (sic) first few seconds of evaluation. IN other words, there is a critical moment when an exchange takes place of metadata from the web (whether ‘explicit’ - as in the title, or even within the website’s own HTML, rendered via a search engine’s relevance ranking, or ‘implicit’ – the intuitive look and feel of a source) and the metadata of the reader’s purpose and goals. If there is a ‘match’ then the information is likely to be accessed more fully. (I would add that this ‘exchange’ is not limited to electronic sources – just watch people browsing videos in a rental store, or think about the expensive investment in covers and titles by book publishers and the systems of display in bookstores).

In the era of the ‘attention economy’, readers and users of Internet information must be (sic) carefully craft, in their own minds, the kind of metadata which will – almost instinctively – ‘fit’ with the metadata of the information sources they want, so that – in the few brief moments of initial exchange, when a seeker of information encounters information being sought, rapid, effective judgments are made that ‘pay off’ in terms of further reading, accessing and saving.” (Allen, n.d)

The ‘Attention Economy’ (Goldhaber, The Attention Economy and the Net, 1997) is a concept which has been interpreted in several key ways since Goldhaber discussed in 1997. My reading and investigations lead me to three main ideas surrounding the value and market to which the “Attention Economy” refers:
  • Value of your own attention – Personal Value – using the metadata of your browsing history to increase your ability to search and view the internet. This is explained in more detail here:
  • Value of employees’ attention – Organisational Value – harnessing the information stored in the browsing history (internet, local network and personal computer terminal) of your employees in order to gain a better understanding of how they spend their time at work. This idea is referred to by this Consultancy firm:
  • Value of readers’/visitors’/customers’ attention – Popular Value – harnessing the information about attention of the readers of your blog or website visitors in order to make money. One tool that looks at this is:
In all these ideas of Attention Economy the consumer has a product which she desires. The attention is the payment, (i.e. you must pay attention to something in order to receive your product) and the product is information. Goldhaber refers to: “an economy is based on scarcity” and “an information glut” (Goldhaber, Review: How (Not) to study the Attention Economy a review of "The Economics of Attention: Style and Substance in the Age of information", 2006) There is so much information out there that the real test is to vie for a market share of attention in order to use the information gathered as desired.

These ideas led me to consider another interpretation of Attention Economy where the value of attention is based on learning in a “Connectivist” (Seimens, 2004) sense:
  • Value of friend’s/colleagues/peers attention – Educational Value – harnessing the information stored in the connections you have with people to gain knowledge and establish a solid Personal Learning Network.
Siemens refers to “The capacity to form connections between sources of information, and thereby create useful information patterns, is required to learn in our knowledge economy.” (Seimens, 2004). Gaining the scarce attention of your Personal Learning Network to mine the glut of information contained therein to enhance your own knowledge is an important skill to master. This process can be simplified in many ways including accessing digital tools like the plethora of Web2.0 tools currently in vogue.

One web2.0 tool which I have continued to use to vie for the attention of my Personal Learning Network in order to enhance my knowledge is Twitter. Without a doubt the usefulness of Twitter for me as an attention gaining and giving tool has increased as my connections made there increase and are reciprocated. I have seen this even during this course (NET11) as my connections there begin to include fellow students and indeed even tutors. Huberman et al describe this phenomenon and relate it to the scarcity of attention: “Reciprocity plays an important role in many economic and social interactions (Fehr and Gachter, 2000). At the same time, the plenitude of signals that people are flooded with makes attention a scarce commodity and thus a valued private good (Huberman, et al., 2008). In the case of Twitter, we found that the notion of reciprocated attention is present. While our definition of friend allows for a user X to be a friend of user Y while Y is not a friend of X, we found that on average, 90 percent of a user’s friends reciprocate attention by being friends of the user as well.“ (Huberman, Romero, & Wu, 2009). Goldhaber also refers to the use of the internet to harness the attention of your network: “Even if you in some way choose to remain anonymous, putting out your thoughts to the world allows other people to think them, which enlarges you. Even with some degree of anonymity, if you are canny, say, in your use of the Internet, you may draw on this attention as well.” (Goldhaber, The Value of Openness In the Information Economy, 2006)

The concept of Information and Attention appears to have many connotations and will continue to mean different things for different sectors and industries and indeed may have several meanings even for one person. For me the relationship between attention, information and knowledge and the gaining and sharing of these ideas is connected directly to my personal learning experiences. Sure, some of these other ideas will inevitably become important to me over time but in this era of the Attention Economy, Connectivist theory and Personal Learning Networks, if I continue to pay or receive attention to gain information in order to boost my knowledge I believe I will achieve my goals and meet my targets more effectively and in a more timely manner.

Annotated Bibliography Concept 33


Siemens, G. (n.d.). Retrieved January 21, 2009, from elearnspace:

George Siemens is the founding father of and leading advocate for Connectivism as a Learning Theory. He has been a keynote speaker at national and international learning conferences and is widely respected. His website “everything Elearning” provides extensive information and discussion about the theory of Connectivism as well as a host of other e-learning tips tricks and resources. Though there is only a passing direct reference to the Attention Economy (rather Siemens discusses often the Knowledge Economy), I find the link in ideas to be intrinsically connected. The site is a veritable treasure trove of blogging, writing and theorising goodness and should be added to your feed reader of choice RIGHT NOW!

Social networks that matter: Twitter under the microscope

Huberman, B., Romero, D., & Wu, F. (2009, January 9). Social networks that matter: Twitter under the microscope. Retrieved January 14, 2009, from First Monday:

Huberman et al take a look at attention as it relates to Twitter users and their “followers”, “followees” and “friends”. Their conclusions add an interesting thread to this discussion in that perceived attention can be very different from actual attention when it comes to social networks on the internet. The representational diagrams and graphs helped me to understand how my own attention works in the case of Twitter in particular but also with social networks in general. I particularly like the links drawn between actual friends and the number of posts a user generates and to me this emphasises that need to “connect” when you network and add to your PLN online.

Concept 20 Active communication generates identity awareness

“The common term for people who belong to lists (or other internet communities of discussion) and who do not actively participate is 'lurkers'. Lurkers, obviously, are real people who exist in many ways. Yet, within the context of a particular list, if they are not posting, then they appear invisible and, indeed, can lack identity completely.

One can only generate awareness of one's membership of an email list by posting messages; others' awareness of your identity will enable them to include you in their discussions and enable you to play your part in the community that is the list (Allen, n.d)

With the advent and continuing boom of web2.0 there are more and more ways to engage in active communication in online communities. Furthermore, though lurking may appear to some not to be active communication that is because the site is only recording the communication that happens within that site. The lurker could be reading the information contained therein and discussing it somewhere else, be it online or offline.

Active communication in web2.0 is not just about writing a post. There are now many ways that you can participate in online environments and there are many very different types of content that can be added to posts and comments. Sites like Youtube and Flickr have many ways to actively participate including; enable users to comment on content in text or video, favourite content, and join groups. They also actively encourage lurking by allowing users to embed content, get RSS feeds so they know when users upload new content, show how many times content has been viewed and rate content anonymously.

The Free Hugs Campaign Youtube Video is the most viewed video on Youtube (37,492,733 views on 25/01/2009). It has generated media coverage, been copied numerous times around the world, and has been discussed online and offline on by millions of people. Though most people who have viewed this content would be considered lurkers, they are still actively communicating. The video sparked a movement and the message of the video asks people to actively communicate outside of the realms of the content itself by hugging someone. Interestingly, Juan Mann, the man in the video, produced it because he felt disconnected and alone and in some ways lacking identity.

Allen’s statement “One can only generate awareness of one's membership of an email list by posting messages; others' awareness of your identity will enable them to include you in their discussions and enable you to play your part in the community that is the list” (Allen, n.d) rings true for email lists simply because that is a technical feature of the way email lists work. You only know if there are other email list subscribers if those subscribers make a post. If it was put into the context of web2.0, this idea that lurkers can only “generate identity awareness” by contributing to the discussion would not sound so plausible. This assumption that participants in a community only communicate with other community members via the medium of the community can not be related to other types of online communities like Social Networking sites and “Communities of Practice” in educational and business organisations. This negative view of lurking has been debunked by many authorities on community: “Most community members rarely participate. Instead they stay on the periphery, watching the interaction of the core and active members. But they are not as passive as they seem. They apply their own insights from the discussion, having private conversations about the issues being discussed in the public forum.” (McDermott, 2003)

The learning taking place in this ‘Internet Communication NET11’ course has taken the path of a participatory pedagogy (where the tutors are learning from the students and the students are learning from the tutors and each other) and the discussions in the webCT forums have also been referenced in the blogs, on Twitter and I imagine the households of the participants are also often filled with discussion about the learning occurring there (as has often been the case in my home). This illustrates the ubiquitous nature of communities (online or offline) and highlights the difficulties encountered when pigeon holing participants and labelling them with terms like ‘lurker’.

Annotated Bibliography
Concept 20

Social Media Co-Lab

Forum- Toward a Participatory Pedagogy. (2008, October/November). Retrieved January 26, 2009, from Social Media Co-Lab:

The Social Media Co-Lab states on it’s front page: “This website is an invitation to grow a public resource of knowledge and relationships among all who are interested in the use of social media in learning, and therefore, it is made public with the intention of growing a community of participants who will take over its provisioning, governance and future evolution.” (Rheingold, 2008) It is a project initiated by Howard Rheingold and Sam Rose. The forum thread which I have linked to as particularly important to this concept contains posts by, and references and links to, leaders in the use of social media in education and I was lucky enough to be able to contribute to this discussion. The conversation initiated thought for me on this concept as Howard Rheingold had prodded me to move from a “browser” to “contributor” via email. This community formed by Howard is a veritable treasure trove of ideas, resources and links and is open for anyone to join.

Let’s get more positive about the term ‘lurker’

Macdonald, J., Atkin, W., Daugherity, F., Fox, H., Macgilvray, A., Reeves- Lipscomb, D., et al. (2003, June/July). Let's get more positive about the term 'lurker', CPsquare Foundations of Communities of Practice Workshop. Retrieved January 24, 2009, from

This report forms part of a project which states its goal as ”to explore what it means to have 'legitimate peripheral participants' in a CoP, and strategies to promote this idea when establishing a CoP - to overcome reluctance to commit because of fears of increased workload, and also to explore the literature in this area.” (Macdonald, et al., 2003) The ideas explored by the project participants are specifically related in most instances to online ‘Communities of Practice’ (CoP) and contribute nicely to the discussion on the concept of “Active communication generates identity awareness”. The document helped me to explore the negative connotations associated with the term ‘lurker’ and ways to give this term positive spin. The diagram on the last page of the document illustrates the idea that a community extends beyond the walls of the community and highlights the different types of participation.

Concept 9 Permanent ephemerality

“It's been said that the flow of electrons to a phosphorised screen (much like the one on which you are reading this now, assuming you have not printed it on paper) provides an illusion of impermanence, even though - as demonstrated mainly in legal cases – electronic information is actually very hard to eliminate from computer systems (especially those involving networks). Hence, electronic communication is marked by an uneasy tension between its permanence and its ephemerality. Electronic communication (especially email) is likened to a cross between the written and oral forms with which we are most familiar and which tend to mark out our practical perspectives on what is ephemeral and what is permanent. While true in part, this perspective ignores the fact that electronic communication's similarity or otherwise to written or oral communication is dependent on the perspective of the users.

Advanced Internet users do not confuse the electronically generated 'ephemerality' of their communication with a real emphemerality (sic): they take seriously the requirement to communicate with clear vision of the consequences of what they are doing.

Web ephemerality is equally prominent, but works in reverse: websites that appear permanent, fixed, solid have a tendency of disappearing, changing or otherwise blurring back into the endless stream of pixels and electronic signals of the Internet. While communication appears ephemeral, but is not; websites appear certain, but are indeed often ephemeral. Perhaps this suggests that Internet users need to emphasise the use of communication more than information-seeking.” (Allen, n.d)

The internet can appear ephemeral in its nature especially when it comes to seeking information, citing information for research or assignments and tracking information changes. However the advent of web2.0 and RSS has made it easier to track changes and monitor communications from websites and soon the appearance of web ephemerality may be relegated to a footnote in history. From a social media perspective, people often track the changes of websites of their peers and friends and the communications and updates contained there often have the problem of emotions and opinions associated with them. If you have an emotional meltdown on your page, will you easily be able to get rid of it? One such ‘meltdown’ on twitter was recently captured and blogged about. The blog post and ensuing comments are an interesting read but the information captured by the blogger is limited and static. It is one screen capture and is merely a snap shot of how the website looked at that point in time.

During my reading and investigations I also came across this video which looked at this phenomenon by monitoring and discussing the evolution of a page on Wikipedia over a two year period. Wikipedia is a website much maligned for its lack of credibility and permanently evolving nature as the information is user generated. The video illustrates this shifting nature of Wikipedia but it also got me thinking about the usefulness of being able to compare one page with the next incarnation of that page, or past incarnations. I thought: ‘Wouldn’t it be useful if you could compare and track these changes easily on any website and between websites?’
Schneider and Foot discuss the need to be able to track changes: “Web content is ephemeral in its transience, as it can be expected to last for only a relatively brief time. From the perspective of the user or visitor (or researcher), specialized tools and techniques are required to ensure that content can be viewed again at a later time.” (Schneider & Foot, 2004)In the paper they look at the need from a researcher’s point of view and examine some of the practices researchers were using at that time. It seems their idea has led to the development of a real web application that Can and does track information from the different websites and allows you to search and compare these sites in a dynamic way. The video and blog post on the University of Washington website highlight the possible uses for Zoetrope which is a joint research and development project involving the University of Washington and Adobe.

With the ability to search and compare past snapshots of web pages not far away, will this concept of the ephemeral web be relegated to history? It certainly seems to me that if it was difficult to remove your meltdowns in the past, Zoetrope will make it impossible. Though @astrospace removed his Twitter updates, and @applicants managed to only get one snapshot of the events, the information was captured by a third party and was not searchable or verifiable. Zoetrope captures the information, archives it and makes it searchable and allows it to be compared to other sites. How would this capability effect people’s privacy and security? Will it be easier for people’s movements to be tracked by their bosses or suspicious wives, or stalkers? I think it is quite likely that Zoetrope will be used for purposes other than it was originally intended as this seems to happen with most tools be they internet tools or otherwise. Researches and developers at Adobe and University of Washington are creating Zoetrope with the casual researcher in mind but have they also unwittingly extinguished our ability to hide our social media faux pas? Only time will tell.

Annotated Bibliography Concept 9

Read Write Web

Davis, L. (2009, January 25). The Unforeseen Consequences of the Social Web. Retrieved January 26, 2009, from Read Write Web:

The Read Write Web “is a blog that provides Web Technology news, reviews and analysis” (according to its “about” page) I have found it to be a great source of information and ideas written by a host of interesting and knowledgeable writers. The post I have linked to here “The Unforeseen Consequences of the Social Web” highlights a few other ideas related to this concept of permanent ephemerality and provided me with the link to the blog about the Twitter meltdown by @astrospace. I have visited the Read Write Web many times in the past and have found it to be a great source of new ideas, information and current web affairs.

Eytan Adar

Adar, E. (n.d.). Eytan Adar. Retrieved February 1, 2009, from Eytan Adar:

Eytan Adar is a graduate researcher involved with the Zoetrope project. This website is his e-portfolio and contains links to his CV and a host of papers, journal articles and pictures which he has contributed to. The reason I chose his home page for this section is partly to show that real people are behind projects like Zoetrope and partly to show that much of his work is related to this topic of the ephemeral web. His paper on Zoetrope is a fascinating description of the project and the “techo stuff” behind it.

Concept 1 Asynchronicity

“Asynchronous communication means that the sender and receiver deal with the communication between them at different times. We are familiar with asynchronous communication, for we use it regularly with letters, faxes and similar media. However, email often appears to be more similar to the conventions of real-time (or synchronous) communication and thus the particular nature of asynchronicity is different. People often expect a response to email in faster time than a letter (perhaps because they themselves respond rapidly to email). People expect to be able, through email, to conduct a conversation, with much back and forth, similar to an oral conversation.

In other words, asynchronous communication does not render time and schedules unimportant (as is sometimes claimed). Rather it requires us to think up new rules to assist us in managing communications that, from one perspective are 'instant' and, from another, are 'lagged' and that, standing back, are about the differences in temporal location of the people communicating.

Asynchronous electronic communication is not the opposite of real-time, synchronous communication: rather it describes forms of communication that appear differently 'located in time' depending on the perspective of the sender and receiver.
This concept applies equally, of course, to the other forms of asynchronous communication that are very similar to email, or use email (newsgroups and lists).

What is perhaps less obvious is that FTP and the World Wide Web can also enable asynchronicity: indeed they depend on it, by allowing individuals to access material in many different personal ‘time zones’. For example, teaching online is predominantly effective where students cannot gather together in class to hear lectures but need to access them individually, at their own time.” (Allen, n.d)

This multi faceted concept got me thinking in many directions but the hook for me (because of my employment and because of this Net11 class) is the last sentence in the quote above relating asynchronous communication to it’s use in online learning: “teaching online is predominantly effective where students cannot gather together in class to hear lectures but need to access them individually at their own time” (Allen, n.d) I wanted to explore this a little more, especially in its relationship to asynchronous communication with web2.0 tools and the learning that has occurred for me in this class.

Certainly communication via asynchronous methods has its merits as far as teaching online is concerned but it is not necessarily the most ‘effective’ method. Effectiveness is difficult to assess and compartmentalise when it comes to online learning due to many factors including: course content, delivery mode, student backgrounds and demographics, facilitator competence, pedagogical approach, group dynamics, desired outcomes and a host of other variables. This study which examines several online learning situations in the VET (Vocational Education and Training) Sector looks at some of these variables in its case studies and concludes that under the right circumstances online learning conducted in a classroom (i.e. where students can ‘gather together’) can be lead to very effective learning (where effectiveness is measured in the context of levels of interaction): “Classroom-based online delivery was used for the ACE English as a Second Language (ESL) Environment module at ACENET Werribee Centre, the modules in the Certificate for Spoken and Written English, run by AMES Victoria and for the on-campus students in the Box Hill Institute’s Anatomy and Physiology modules and the Bachelor Degree in International Hotel Management at the Regency Hotel School. The levels of interactivity were judged to vary from low in the latter instances to high in the former.” (Curtain, 2002) Certainly asynchronous communication over the internet would have made up a portion of the communication for these students but its effectiveness delivering or aiding delivery of the outcomes of the online learning can not be measured. Rather the asynchronous communication forms a cog in the machine that is online learning in these case studies.

Our own case study that we have been participating in during the course of this Net11 unit has also shown that the effectiveness of asynchronous communications in aiding the learners is subjective and varies from person to person. Moreover, the tools delivered by Curtin University to facilitate asynchronous communication have been ridiculed by staff and students alike as being difficult to use and possibly hindering learning for some students. Interestingly the asynchronous discussion in the webCT forums on ‘chat’ (a synchronous method of internet communication) has been amongst the most popular threads and throughout the posts there are numerous mentions about how the chat task has been an effective part of the course for many students. Also during this course there has been much evidence (including those chat threads) of communication moving from one medium to the next and moving from asynchronous to synchronous communication and from tool to tool. There is also evidence within this Net11 class of asynchronous web2.0 tools like Twitter being effectively used as synchronous tools (as well as other people) because of the ‘always on’ nature of the internet. So maybe we need to start talking about ‘semi-synchronicity’ which could be defined as “Synchronous when your want it, asynchronous when you don’t”.

If ‘semi-synchronicity’ proves to be the way forward for online communication will that finally sound the death knell for less flexible modes of communication on the internet? Probably not but I might get some more twitter followers......

Annotated Bibliography

Asynchronous and Synchronous E-learning

Hrastinski, S. (2009, January). Asynchronous and Synchronous E-learning. Retrieved February 5, 2009, from Educause Quaterly:

This article was posted in the Educause Quarterly Number 4, 2009 and written by a well respected scholar and educator. The discussion and research findings provide an interesting adendum to the experiences of the students (myself included) in our Net11 class and helps to show that both Asynchronous and Synchronous communication are necessary as choices in learning and teaching methodologies. Though the concept of semi-synchronicity is noticeable in its absence, the article provides great insight into the case studies performed and Hrastinsky has provided an up to date look at this hot topic in the e-learning world.

Together We Can

Hawes, L. (2008, November). Posts from "Together We Can" tagged with "#asynchronous". Retrieved February 6, 2009, from Together We Can

The URL I have linked to is a search on Larry Hawes blog for the tag “asynchronous”. The two posts by Larry who is “is a nationally recognized consultant, researcher, author, and educator on the strategic use of collaboration and knowledge management technologies to drive high-value business transformation.” (Hawes, 2008) provide some insight into this idea of Twitter being somewhere “in between” synchronous and asynchronous which I refer to as “semi-synchronous”. Though this is Larry’s personal blog, I feel his approach to the subject to be highly professional and very useful to the ongoing discussion of how these modes of communication often blur the lines. His final question: “Is temporal flexibility the secret sauce of microstreaming?” (Hawes, 2008) links nicely back to Allen’s initial quote on this concept.


"@applicant". (2009, January 22). It Takes Seconds To Kill Your Brand Image In Social Media. Retrieved January 22, 2009, from

Adar, E. (n.d.). Eytan Adar. Retrieved February 1, 2009, from Eytan Adar:

Allen, P. M. (n.d.). Curtin University WebCT.

Curtain, R. (2002). Online delivery in the vocational education and training sector. Retrieved February 5, 2009, from NCVER:

Davis, L. (2009, January 25). The Unforeseen Consequences of the Social Web. Retrieved January 26, 2009, from Read Write Web:

Forum- Toward a Participatory Pedagogy. (2008, October/November). Retrieved January 26, 2009, from Social Media Co-Lab:

Goldhaber, M. (2006, November 6). Review: How (Not) to study the Attention Economy a review of "The Economics of Attention: Style and Substance in the Age of information". Retrieved January 15, 2009, from First

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Goldhaber, M. (2006, June 5). The Value of Openness In the Information Economy. Retrieved January 13, 2009, from

Hawes, L. (2008, November). Posts from "Together We Can" tagged with "#asynchronous". Retrieved February 6, 2009, from Together We Can

Hrastinski, S. (2009, January). Asynchronous and Synchronous E-learning. Retrieved February 5, 2009, from Educause Quaterly:

Huberman, B., Romero, D., & Wu, F. (2009, January 9). Social networks that matter: Twitter under the microscope. Retrieved January 14, 2009, from First Monday:

Iskold, A. (2007, March 1). The Attention Economy: An Overview. Retrieved January 13, 2009, from ReadWriteWeb:

Karrer, T. (2008, February 19). Corporate Learning Longtail and Attention Crisis. Retrieved January 13, 2009, from eLearning Technologies:

Macdonald, J., Atkin, W., Daugherity, F., Fox, H., Macgilvray, A., Reeves- Lipscomb, D., et al. (2003, June/July). Let's get more positive about the term 'lurker', CPsquare Foundations of Communities of Practice Workshop. Retrieved January 24, 2009, from

McDermott, R. (2003, January/Februaury). Building Spontaneity into Strategic communities. KM Review , pp. 28-31.

Reeves, B., Roy, S., Gorman, B., & Morley, T. (2008, May 5). A marketplace for attention: Responses to a synthetic currency used to signal information importance in email. Retrieved January 13, 2009, from FirstMonday:

Rheingold, H. (2008). Social Media Classroom. Retrieved January 26, 2009, from

Schneider, S. M., & Foot, K. A. (2004, June 10). The Web as an Object of Study. Retrieved December 8, 2008, from

Seimens, G. (2004, December 12). Connectivism:A learning Theory for a Digital Age. Retrieved January 13, 2009, from elearnspace:

Siemens, G. (n.d.). Retrieved January 21, 2009, from elearnspace:

Tompa, R. (2008, November 17). Pinning down the fleeting Internet: Web crawler archives historical data for easy searching . Retrieved February 1, 2009, from University of Washington News: