Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Facebook losing teens

A recent survey indicated that over the past year the percent of teenagers saying that Facebook was the most important social networking sites to them dropped from 42% in 2012 to only 23% this year, according to a survey by Piper Jaffray, an investment bank and asset managing firm. See the chart here. One of the reasons for the decline in the popularity of Facebook among teens, according to a Pew Research Center publication, is that it has become a social burden. Twitter currently reigns supreme as 26% of teens consider it their most important social network. Some good news for Facebook is that Instagram, one of the companies Facebook owns, is gaining among teens and is tied with Facebook at 23% in the survey. Today, after a long period of denying and discounting these trends Chief Financial Officer of Facebook, David Ebersman admitted that Facebook was seeing a decrease in daily users among younger teens. David Ebersman was also quick to note that "We remain close to fully penetrated among teens in the U.S." Yes, that is a direct quote. I'd venture to say that weird phrasing like that isn't helping Facebook's case either. Jokes aside, an astounding 94% of teens still have Facebook profiles despite the decrease in teens considering it their most important social network. It seems that Facebook is not going anywhere anytime soon, but the trends among teens are going to become a big problem for Facebook if they hope to continue their dominance of social networking in the future.

Today, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius testified in front of the House Energy and Commerce committee about the Affordable Care Act - more commonly known as "Obamacare" to much of the public - and the failures of the website. During the testimony, Sebelius, a Democrat, had a testy conversation with Rep. Gregg Harper, a Republican from Mississippi. Harper and Sebelius were discussing who was ultimately responsible for the failures of, with Sebelius repeatedly taking blame for the failures of the website throughout the Congressional hearing. Harper repeatedly asked Sebelius whether President Obama was ultimately responsible, to which Sebelius eventually responded, “You clearly, uh, whatever.” Blame has been shifted between different people and factions of the government, and calls have come from a variety of Republicans - both Congressional and non-Congressional - for Sebelius to resign. President Obama has also said that he is upset about the failures of in its initial rollout. My question to the class is, who do you ultimately believe is responsible for the problems with Is it President Obama, Secretary Sebelius, The White House, the Department of Health and Human Services as a whole, or another person or organization?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

This week in LIS 201 (week 9)

Week 9: Social networking and online immersion




  • If it's your turn to write a 500-word article critique, you must post this to your section blog before your section meets.
  • If it's your week to give a speech, prepare and practice!  Otherwise, prepare for a possible extemporaneous speech response.
  • Complete your peer reviews of your fellow students' paper #2 drafts on their pages of the discussion section wiki.


  • First five minutes: Pop quiz? Maybe!
  • Two student presentations (#13 and #14)on the readings (and two student extemporaneous responses).
  • Discuss this week's lecture and required readings.
  • Discuss paper #2 revision strategies.


This week's challenge will be especially difficult. Get ready.

  • Attempt to survive without using any personal digital social networking tools for the whole weekend, Friday 5pm to Sunday 5pm. Do not consult or post to Facebook or MySpace or Google+. Do not Tweet. Do not text. Do not instant-message. Do not Skype. Do not iChat. Do not answer personal emails (or even read them, if you can avoid it). And, yes, do not use your cell phone at all (although you may use a land-line phone or a pay phone). The only thing you are allowed to do is the minimum necessary online participation for other classes you are taking.
  • Once the weekend is over (or once you've thrown in the towel if you don't make it to Sunday at 5pm), write about the experience on your discussion section blog. How do you end up communicating with people? How do you coordinate meetings with your friends? How do you survive without taking a Quiz On Your Favorite Star Wars Mini-Figure every hour?
  • Comment on at least one other student's write-up.
  • Be thankful you weren't a college student before the early 1990s, like I was, when THERE WAS NO WORLD WIDE WEB! (Gasp!)
  • You must finish this online activity before next week's lecture.


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Edward Snowden traitor or hero?

Yesterday, the United States received a message of disapproval and distrust from the German people as it was revealed that at one point, the United States was monitoring the current German Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone.  This information would not have been known if the exiled Edward Snowden hadn't released thousands of documents relating to the NSA and its hidden surveillance tactics.  The United States looked forward to Merkel as a new ally with similar interests when she had been elected, but this new amount of information severed a bond of trust that the US  government once had with the German gov. They reluctantly had to admit the espionage they committed because all the cards were forcibly placed on the table.  One man caused tension (that was perhaps unneeded) between two of the richest, most powerful countries in the world.  One that may affect our relationship with Germany for years to come.  However, that man did also give us the transparency of the powers and dangers of the internet.  He gave us the knowledge of the rapid decrease (maybe even the disappearance) of the concept of "privacy."  I guess that my question for the class after this new information that may potentially lead to increased international tensions, do you regard Edward Snowden as a hero or a traitor or something in between? 

Google Drop Down "Speaks" for Women Everywhere

UN Women, an arm of the United Nations focused on global women's issues, recently released a powerful ad campaign that uses, of all things, real-life Google Drop Down results.  Yet another interesting look at how technology is shaping society's conversations today.

Thanks to student Jenny Knackert for bringing this to our attention in discussion yesterday!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

This week in LIS 201 (week 8)

Week 8: Big data and social surveillance




  • If it's your turn to write a 500-word article critique, you must post this to your section blog before your section meets.
  • If it's your week to give a speech, prepare and practice!  Otherwise, prepare for a possible extemporaneous speech response.
  • Post your rough draft of paper #2 to your personal wiki pages (you will want to create a separate page so that your peer reviewers can just "comment" at the bottom).


  • First five minutes: Pop quiz? Maybe!
  • Two student presentations (#11 and #12) on the readings (and two student extemporaneous responses).
  • Discuss this week's lecture and required readings.


This week we'll explore a famous article by scientist, engineer, and wartime government administrator Vannevar Bush on hyperlinked media that many cite as an inspiration for today's World Wide Web.

  • Read Bush's 1945 article entitled "As we may think," where he describes his vision of an information infrastructure he called the "Memex."
  • Twenty years later, in 1967, Bush wrote a follow up article, "Memex revisited," which recast his ideas in light of the early computer revolution. Read this revised version and think about the differences from the 1945 version.
  • Do a Google search on "Memex" and explore a tiny fraction of the millions of hits that appear. (You don't have to explore all of them.) Be creative; for example, are there blog posts on Memex? News articles? YouTube videos? Anything posted in the last month?
  • About thirty years after this, in 1995, a symposium was held at MIT to consider Bush's Memex ideas fifty years after their original publication. (Remember, this was only a few years after the World Wide Web had appeared on the media stage.) Many of the attendees were well-known pioneers in the area of hypertext research, like Douglas Englebart (inventor of the computer mouse), Ted Nelson (author of the 1970s counterculture computer manifesto "Computer Lib!") and Tim Berners-Lee (creator of the protocols that underlie the World Wide Web itself). Read this description of their reactions to the original Vannevar Bush article.
  • Finally, go to your discussion section blog and write a new post on what you've found and what you think of the Memex idea today.
  • Reply to at least one other student's blog posting.
  • You must finish this online activity before next week's lecture.



Please note that the Friday of the ninth week of classes is generally the last date a student may drop a course.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Malala vs. Miley

It seems that everywhere I go on the internet, every time I turn on the radio or walk past a television, someone, somewhere, is ranting about Miley Cyrus. I cannot tell you how many times I've seen my friends post pictures of Ms. Cyrus as a little girl on their Instagram...#whathappened. I see this and I laugh...don't people feel weird being nostalgic for someone else's childhood? Don't they realize that everyone grows, changes, and makes mistakes? But then, amidst the "open letters to Miley Cyrus" that seem to be surfacing left and right, some questioning, some humorous (see Sufjan Stevens, one of my favorite musicians, correct Miley's grammar in a blog post here), some majorly offensive and body-shaming, I wonder: is it better to pretend not to care, or more important to realize what a huge role celebrities, especially female celebrities, play in today's media? When so much air time is devoted to a single female-identified person, whether deliberately or not, it affects the way the public perceives women and how we talk about this person's actions reflects society's opinions as a whole. I think that the conversations circulating Miley Cyrus' recent personal revolution has stimulated some extremely important discourse about body politics, racism within the music industry, and how we react to women putting themselves in the public arena. During such a phenomenon, it would be easy to brush it aside as trivial banter about a pop star when there are more important things going on in the world...but I can't help but think that these so-called "important issues" are inherently connected to larger topics that can be brought up outside of the realm of E! News. For example, Malala Yousafzai, the 16 year old Pakistani girl who was shot by the Taliban because of her support for education for young women in her country, was recently interviewed on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Malala's words are inspiring, intelligent, and full of hope for the future of women in Pakistan. Malala's words of fearlessness in the face of the violent, misogynistic world in which she lives definitely were heard around the world-her interview has nearly a million views on YouTube. It would be silly to say that people don't care about what Malala is saying to the people of America, Pakistan, and the rest of the world. Yet it should be noted that the video of Miley Cyrus' controversial performance at the 2013 Video Music Awards has reached over 3 million views. Should we be worried that an amazing, 16 year old Nobel Peace Prize nominee has gotten less airtime than a girl dancing on a stage to a song she probably didn't write herself? Or should the collective discourse that arises from both of these viral media sources be considered important, no matter what the focus is, because at least people are interacting, voicing their opinions, and showing that strong female figures are influential in our society? I think it is a tricky situation to be in, and though I don't think we should be concerning ourselves with pop music as much as we should human rights violations, everything in the information society is connected, and as consumers and citizens we need to recognize our duty to discern what is important, and to spread messages that will positively affect our society.

Jon Stewart interviews Malala:

On Miley Cyrus, slut-shaming, and cultural appropriation:

Shutting Down the Internet

           When Achmed Maher started the revolution in Cairo through the Internet he exceeded the boundaries of what had already seemed possible on the Internet. Everyone knew that the Internet was beginning to allow for any individual to get his ideas out there, but did anyone ever imagine that it would so quickly allow for an individual, just your average citizen, to start a nation wide revolution? I believe that while people may have seen this as a possibility, not many people actually thought it would ever happen – but then it did, and the government shut down the Internet.

            This is what got to me, not the fact that a government could control their citizens Internet use, but the fact that someone out there, some technician, has the ability to just turn the internet off. Should individuals out there have this power? Should governments or businesses have this power? And if so, when could they and/or should they use it?

            After a quick Google News search of ‘internet’ I found a few articles to help explore these questions. The first article that popped up was Keep Your Mitts Off the Internet by Robert Miraldi which brought up the question of, ‘if someone is going to control the Internet who should it be? Big government or big business?’ At first glance I said government (and even after reading the article I still stick to this opinion) but to counter this idea Miraldi brings up the first amendment case. The Internet, like a newspaper or magazine, is a private equity “And the First Amendment guarantees that the government can't tell private people how they can speak…So, the government does not have the right to rule the Internet” (Miraldi). And so, at least in America, this is a clear cut answer that really cant be debated but it can still be questioned because while we may not like the idea of government ruling our Internet access, having a private company rule it is just as scary, if not more, because they have no restrictions at all on what they can take off and do to the Internet.

            The title of the next article began with Is Chine Spying on us through Broadband?... by Hugo Gye, and while the majority of the article was on a business deal between the Chinese company Huawei and Britain, part of it brings up the security issues currently surrounding the Internet. With this particular business transaction, accusations arose that if the deal went through then Huawei could monitor all British Citizens Internet use. Last year the US Congress even issued a report asking companies not to do business with Huawei because of the security problems. But what if one day a company does do business with them and something goes wrong, or just if any hacker took over control of the internet within the US – at that point who should be the one that makes the call on shutting down the internet to protect ourselves?

            These concerns of how the Internet should be run and who should control it are topics that need to be discussed and answered. The Internet is still relatively new and it is only going to get more and more powerful. While I believe it is good to have such a thing as net neutrality and allowing everyone to have an equal say, there are going to come points in the future where for whatever reason, be it people’s safety or a leak of important information, someone is going to need to have the power to take control over the internet and if need be shut it down in order to fix the problem – we just need to decide who that will be and how they should go about it.

Works Cited.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Unsettled American Dream

After over two weeks of government shutdown, the U.S. Senate is still debating and working on forging a bipartisan deal to avoid treasury default and resume the depressed economy for hundreds of thousands blue-collar workers hired within the country (and also overseas by American corporations). Ironically, the lack of swift and effective moves from the federal government has generated many critiques and concerns among people who once came and stepped onto this land with their high hope of the glorious American dream. With all the debts and financial pressure build upon the nation’s administrative plan, it seems that the dream has been fading and replaced bit by bit by the uncertainty and fear of a malfunctioned and destructive economy swirling across the world. 
In the recent New York Times article, “Viewing U.S. in Fear and Dismay”, several reporters took a serious and certainly cautious view of the trembling Americanized world economy from through different locations including Mexico City, Moscow, Athens, Buenos Aires and Cairo. For people from other countries, their either voluntary or involuntary involvement in this international economic development seems to take them down hopelessly and follow the depressing path that the Greeks and many other Europeans once were and are still suffering with. Despite the serious economic situation and possible default it might causes, the fact that such a democratic bipartisan government fails to address the urgent need of its national and global responsibility is even more disturbing and disappointing to its people and trading and political partners. At this moment, the goal of achieving the American dream of equality, democracy and material prosperity is just far beyond reality for most investors who anxiously awaiting actions to be made.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

This week in LIS 201 (week 7)

Week 7: Cyberspace and hypermedia



  • Martin Campbell-Kelly et al., "The Internet," in Computer: A History of the Information Machine, third edition (2014).
  • Rebecca MacKinnon, "Networked authoritarianism," in Consent of the Networked: The Worldwide Struggle for Internet Freedom (2012).


  • If it's your week to write a 500-word article critique, you must post this to your section blog before your section meets.
  • If it's your week to give a speech, prepare and practice!  Otherwise, prepare for a possible extemporaneous speech response.


  • First five minutes: Pop quiz? Maybe!
  • Two student presentations (#9 and #10) on the readings (and two student extemporaneous responses).
  • Discuss this week's lecture and required readings.
  • Discuss tasks and strategies for writing assignment #2. (Rough draft due on wiki by start of next week's discussion.)
  • Graded paper #1 handed back.
  • Graded midterm #1 handed back.


This week you are going to explore some historical news databases.

  • Pick a term relating to the modern information society — "world wide web" or "computer" or "cell phone" or "digital divide" or ... well, use your imagination. The only constraint is that you can't pick a term that one of your fellow sectionmates has used (so it is in your interest to do this assignment early!)
  • Try to find the earliest journalistic use of this term in three different historical newspaper databases provided by ProQuest: the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, and the Los Angeles Times.
  • Now take the same term and try to find its earliest use in three different scholarly article databases: ProQuestProject Muse, andJStor.
  • Write a brief post on your section blog about the ways in which your term was first used, and whether it still has the same meaning today.
  • Visit another student's post and comment on what they found out about the term that they explored.
  • You must finish this online activity before next week's lecture.


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

This week in LIS 201 (week 6)



Our in-class midterm exam will be held in the normal lecture hall. Please arrive a bit early so we can start on time.


This week's reading relates to your software training session and your multimedia assignment, not your exam.




Attend software training sessions, not your regular discussion. Rather than hold your normal discussion section, all students will attend software training sessions scheduled in various computer labs around campus, during your normal discussion section time. You will receive customized training on PowerPoint presentation software that you may use for your multimedia project. This training is offered courtesy of the DoITSoftware Training for Students program.
For sections meeting Wednesday, October 9th:Location: 150 Animal Sciences (CALS lab)
Time: During your regularly-scheduled section time
For sections meeting Thursday, October 10th:Location: 150 Animal Sciences (CALS lab)
Time: During your regularly-scheduled section time
For sections meeting Friday, October 11th:Location: DMC-A, (lower level of the Biochemistry building)
Time: During your regularly-scheduled section time

You should feel free to bring your own laptops if you have your own copy of PowerPoint.


This week your online activity will involve the selection of the book that you are going to read and review.  Each student in your discussion section must choose a different book to read, so if you fear someone else will pick the same book as you, finish this assignment early!  And as a final challenge, the book must have been published in the last two years — which narrows the field of candidates considerably!
  • Think about some search terms or phrases which might quickly and effectively lead you to interesting books on "the information society." Will using the term "information" suffice? What will using the search term "information society" leave out? Be creative.
  • Using an online bookstore like, do a search for a book related to the information society that you would like to read. (We are starting in an online book store in order to make sure that the book is still in print.) Narrow your choice down to three candidates that have been published within the last two years. Which book has the most pages? Which costs the most? Which has the best reviews?
  • Once you have found three possible books, look each of them up through the public web interface of WorldCat. This is a meta-catalog of all US public and university library catalogs. Which book is held by more libraries? What are the subject classifications of each book? Do they differ? Do they suggest further, more interesting search terms? (You may want to go back to step #2 with these terms.)
  • Look each book up on Google Books. Which book seems to have generated the most chatter on the Web? Which has more reviews available through Google? Are any of them in the public domain?
  • Finally, look up each book on Library Thing. (You may have to create a free account on this service in order to search, but it's worth it.) Which book has been read by more users of this social networking service? Which book seems to match best with other books that you think you might like?
  • Decide which book you want to read at this point.
  • Now do a search of your chosen book on two academic journal databases: ProQuest and Project Muse. What journals have reviewed your book? Who are the reviewers? What books have the reviewers themselves written? Read and then print out or otherwise save these book reviews (you will use them in your final paper).
  • Create a new post on your discussion section blog that describes the candidate books you considered, the book you ended up choosing, and the process you took to choose it. Include an image of the cover (from and a citation to any academic reviews you found.
  • Comment on another student's chosen book. (Has anyone chosen the same book as you? If they posted their choice to the blog before you did, then you need to start over and pick a different book!)
  • You must finish this online activity before next week's lecture.


Friday, October 4, 2013

Terms for exam #1

Here you go.  All of the terms come from the articles in your reader.

Bonus hint: Three terms drawn from each article!

conspicuous consumption
Copyright Clearance Center
crisis of control
digital convergence
digital divide
industrial society
information economy
infrastructure technologies
internal improvements
literacy learning
management information system
McCormick reaper
Melvil Dewey
Montgomery Ward and Company
net neutrality
post-industrial society
service sector
software crisis
Spanish-English biliteracy
spatial fix
Standard Oil Trust
Sun Belt
technological systems
the "fiction debate"
theoretical knowledge
time-space distantiation
Wael Ghonim

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Grassroots Activism and the Network Society

Today’s society moves faster than ever before. Technological innovations allow economies, people, and ideas to move and change in new ways with ever-increasing speed. Naturally political theories must change to accommodate changes in society, and those whose campaigns can adapt faster have an obvious advantage. In this competitive environment emerged the very modern idea of “grassroots activism.” This philosophy refers to the ideal of campaigns originating among the people, as opposed to by some faceless elites in a far away meeting.

This model for campaigns became the new standard for the Democratic Party in the 2010 and 2012 election years. It required organizers to redraw hierarchies of campaign leadership. The new model looked more like a web of individuals, a fabric woven by the personal relationships of every voter in America. The network mentality entered politics for the first time.

This network was created with the same dreams as all networks. One was that grassroots activism would reform the political process and give everyone an opportunity to become involved. To a great extent, this became so. Regional organizers were given more responsibility to gather and train volunteers, and volunteering happened at a more local, spread out level. But this network did not reform electoral politics completely, nor did it bring political involvement to people and places it did not already go. The same limits of every network – online or otherwise – apply to grassroots activism as well.

Networks are natural and inevitable systems to form as communication becomes easier and the world of information continues to shrink. But they seem to all have the same limits.  Evidently barriers of geography and class will always prevent people connecting with each other to some extent. 

So about that Government Shutdown...

While you may have thought the biggest closing this week was that of the beloved series Breaking Bad, it turns out the United States Government closing takes the cake. Most Breaking Bad fans would argue that the series finale crossed every t, dotted every i, and left no questions unanswered. The government closing on the other hand, only leaves us with more questions. So what exactly is going on and why? 

In March of 2010, President Obama passed the Patent Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, into law. Without getting into too much detail about what exactly Obamacare is, (although you can read up on it here) it is clear that there is a huge debate about whether this law will help or hurt American citizens. In very broadly generalized terms- Democrats like it, and Republicans don't like it. 

The current spending bill proposed by House Speaker, John Boehner included many anti-Obamacare amendments, which passed in our mostly-Republican House. The bill then moved to the Senate, which is mostly Democrat, and refuses to pass anything anti-Obamacare. It did not pass. Government programs need money to operate, and if congress can't agree on how to fund those programs, they choose to shut down [1]. The last time we had a government shut down was in 1996, when President Bill Clinton, and the Republican Congress couldn't compromise over spending. This shutdown lasted for 28 days. 

Because lawmakers cannot compromise over Obamacare, at the beginning of the fiscal year, on October 1, the government shut down. During a shutdown, government programs are split between "essential" and "non-essential" groups. For example- social security, medicare, law enforcement, and military are examples of essential groups that will continue operation. National parks, federally owned museums, and many federally regulated agencies (such as the IRS) will all close [2]. The shutdown will last until lawmakers can reach an agreement.

In situations such as this, where one news story completely encompasses every media outlet, it's important to be informed about what's going on. In this case, it's not only important to understand what a shutdown is, but also what exactly Obamacare is, and why it is causing such a huge debate among our federal government. While as college students, we may fall under our parent's health care, this will not always be the case, and it's important to educate ourselves on an issue that seriously impacts our future. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

This week in LIS 201 (week 5)

Week 5: The global network society


This week I will distribute a list of terms and essay questions to study which will help you prepare for our first in-class exam next week. (I will probably distribute these on our course news feed.)



  • If it's your week to write a 500-word article critique, you must post this to your section blog before your section meets.
  • If it's your week to give a speech, prepare and practice!  Otherwise, prepare for a possible extemporaneous speech response.
  • Finish the final draft of paper #1.


  • First five minutes: Pop quiz? Maybe!
  • Two student presentations (#7 and #8) on the readings (and two student extemporaneous responses).
  • Discuss this week's lecture and required readings.
  • Turn in a printed final version of paper #1.
  • Review for first midterm exam.


No online activity this weekend. Study for your exam next week.