July 13, 2008 § Leave a comment
I have heard friends complain that they can’t switch to Facebook after using MySpace for so long. I do understand the investment of time and having a strong orientation to one site over another. This especially makes sense when considering wanting and needing to stay in touch with friends and contacts.
I maintain pages at both sites, though recently I have declared my preference for Facebook. I started out with a MySpace page, and thought it was interesting. I have accumulated random friends, people I’ve found who I think are interesting, and some random groups, bands and causes that I want to support or affiliate with in some way. With both services, I have been able to reconnect and stay connected to friends very easily since we moved across the country. I find it easier to share things there and integrate other online services I use there so that folks who are interested can see what I’m up to, and for me to follow what they are up to. However, I find that I have more friends on Facebook and it is easier to communicate there. At MySpace there are too many bells and whistles and way to many obnoxious flashing ads. It’s enough to give you an anyerism.
However, I consider myself to be ambidextrous even while I have a preference. I don’t want to limit myself, and I don’t want to miss out on local events just because they’re posted on MySpace but not Facebook (though most other folks are ambidextrous, too, or are becoming so, and events are often posted in both places).
It’s not unlike the fact that I am equally comfortable using Macs and PCs, or that I have been able to cross over from my Palm Pilot to my new Blackberry, which I was told would be really hard to do (it wasn’t). It’s all about what we’re used to and what we prefer. But all of us, no matter how stubborn, can learn to use new technologies.
June 26, 2008 § Leave a comment
Both my current and former employers have sent me letters within the last two weeks saying that my personal information may have been compromised. They each had separate laptop-theft incidents in their respective HR departments. It strikes me as just a little too coincidental that it would happen in two separate incidents so close in time.
I’m creeped out. Just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get me.
June 22, 2008 § Leave a comment
Guy Kawasaki tweeted this question today:
Is the Internet a Source of Information or Misinformation?
With a link to this post on Trueomors about how people think that information found through research on the Internet is not reliable, citing Wikipedia as the prime example. People are saying that children’s heads are being filled with untruths and propaganda, and that Wikipedia is inherently bad because anyone can submit content.
Here is my response: Pashaw!
Yes, I admit that the content of Wikipedia must be regarded with scrutiny and care, but no more so than any other research reference. Misinformation is also printed in books. If people are trained to research with discernment and a critical eye, they know that they can’t rely on the accuracy of any one resource. You should always use more than one search engine when doing Internet research, and you should always use more than one encyclopedia. Once you’ve gathered those references, you should then look for the primary sources that are often referenced in citations. This might even require going to the library and — gasp — looking at books!
The Internet simply makes some commonly used resources more easily available than they ever have been. No longer do you have to go to the library to use the encyclopedias there, or the card catalog (remember those?). Wearing your PJs and bunny slippers, you can research your paper from the privacy of your own home. If I were a lazy college student, I might be tempted not to verify my sources and simply rely on Wikipedia as my sole source. But then I wouldn’t expect to get a good grade.
The point I’m trying to make is that whether it’s Wikipedia or a reference in a book, any research worth his or her salt must confirm any information with more than one reference.
The thing that I like about Wikipedia is exactly what makes it problematic. I really love the concept of user-contributed content. It’s kind of a utopian idea, even if it isn’t executed in reality how it is conceived in it’s ideals. I like to be optimistic, but I’m not naive. I’ve heard about the people who will sabotage McCain’s or Obama’s or Clinton’s Wikipedia pages. I know there are unscrupulous people out there who want to push their own agendas rather than contribute to the integrity of available information on the Internet.
This has been the challenge of the Internet all along: How to manage the onslaught of available information. How do you separate the wheat from the chaff? The answer is this: The same way researchers always have since libraries existed. You use the best research methods and tool available to find all the information you can about your subject, not relying on just one method or resource. Once you have gathered all of your data, then you analyse it, verifying your sources.
Think of it! If we provide better research training to people when they’re in college, when they come across bad information on Wikipedia perhaps they’ll be inclined to fix the citation, thus contributing to the integrity of that resource. Perhaps then Wikipedia will have a better reputation.