Sunday, April 22, 2007

Too Much of a Good Thing?

The internet is considered by many to have already made as large of an impact on society as the printing press had. The possibilities of online interaction are still expanding. Will we see a web 3.0? No one knows for sure and not many people are bold enough to say what the internet will have in store for us because nobody predicted great innovations like myspace, amazon, or p2p sharing.

The effects that the internet has on American economies are an interesting subject because there is a potential problem. That potential problem is loss of jobs due to the increasing use of the internet. We have already begun to see the effects of p2p sharing, free online news and much more. These are benefits as of now, but what will happen to music artists and journalists jobs? Like stated previously, nobody knows for sure but it can and should be argued that rapid expansion of the internet is like playing with fire. We must be careful and monitor the internet’s growth because there are many jobs at stake.

Could the internet lead to the death of a salesman? It’s possible because we have already begun to see minor effects. For example, like I have stated in my previous blogs, I work as a retail electronics salesman and my company’s main competitor is not the electronics store down the street; it’s online wholesalers like Amazon or NewEgg. Because the big discount online stores don’t have to pay employees like myself to sell a product, they can afford to sell products close to cost. Often times, if the company meets a certain quota for selling a particular brand so many times, they are reimbursed by that company. But how do customers purchase a product that they haven’t heard about? There are numerous customer reviews featured on the product pages of websites that anyone can read. Instead of listening to a review given by a salesman, who doesn’t own the product, you can read reviews from actual customers, who have already purchased it.

Why do customers leave reviews? Well, as stated in my previous blogs, online gift economies are becoming increasingly important because customers assist other customers without any expectation of direct reciprocation. These product reviews function as a customer union, where customers from all over connect to help each other make a better informed decision to lessen the possibility of buyer’s remorse. According to the Richmond Times Dispatch, most retail stores have begun offering customer reviews online as of this past Christmas season to compete with Amazon.

We have heard much talk in recent years about the dangers of outsourcing labor to India and other regions of the world. Instead of outsourcing manufacturing jobs, we are beginning to see an increasing trend in the outsourcing of customer service and IT jobs thanks to IT technology. It sounds like a paradox if you ask me.

If you need to request information regarding your newly purchased computer or your credit card bill, you may be speaking to someone in India, who speaks broken English and is taking jobs away from the U.S. The internet has made this possible because companies can provide these people who are outsourced labor with your customer information over the company network. Here are just a few examples of companies that I have dealt with, who outsource customer service reps: Best Buy, Verizon, Dell, Microsoft, Linksys, DirecTV, and Sirius. The numbers are frightening according to PBS, who claims 3.3 million jobs will be lost by 2015 according to a study by Forrester Research. Apparently Microsoft has invested $400 million dollars into India for customer service.

What about the decline of newspaper readership due to the internet? Today, you can read all news articles online on for example or you can check out what other people think about the latest political news on political blogs, like The internet offers more interaction, where anyone can become someone. Could bloggers be considered journalists? Sure, it’s possible, why not? Credentials aren’t required online to become a great writer or thinker in my opinion. Why pay for a newspaper to read the daily news when it can be found for free on the internet? According to the San Francisco Chronicle, newspaper readership continues to decline due to the internet and newspapers have had a hard time convincing internet users that newspapers are the most reliable source for information.

Many manufacturing jobs are going away due to outsourcing of unskilled labor. The service industry is where America’s jobs seem to be headed. If we aren’t careful with the internet, many jobs could potentially be lost due to computers and the internet. The internet will continue to be a good thing as long as its growth is monitored.


Moyers, Bill. (2003, August 29). PBS Now. Politics and Economy: Foreign Service. Retrieved April 22, 2007 from

Richmond Times Dispatch. (2006, December 7). More retailers offering online customer reviews. Retrieved April 22, 2007 from

Said, Carolyn. (2006, October 31). The San Francisco Chronicle. Fewer readers of papers; Circulation drops at daily publications again nationwide. Final Edition. Retrieved April 20, 2007 from

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Opposition to Net Neutrality was Inevitable

The question of whether the absence of net neutrality is better for the United States can only be tested one way; to try it out. Net neutrality is turning into a highly debated topic of big business versus small business. What is better for America? Is it wrong for Wal-Mart’s to take over small businesses? No one truly knows the answer, which is why there is only one way to find out as stated previously.

The opposition to net neutrality was inevitable. Wherever there is an opportunity to make money, businesses will try to capitalize, especially big businesses. The internet has lead to overwhelming innovation especially economically speaking starting in the late 1990’s. These innovations, which have taken on the monster called “copyright,” have obviously taken money away from big business. Finally the big businesses fight back. They may have the resources, but they sure don’t have the man power. The majority of the U.S. public backs small businesses over big businesses as we have seen countless times in political speeches representing the middle class. In order for the opponents of net neutrality to achieve success in eliminating it, they must go through the politicians in all fifty states. As we all know the politicians usually side with the citizens, which is why opponents of net neutrality have a big fight ahead of them.

Those who oppose net neutrality are the big phone and cable communication companies, who offer internet services to customers for a monthly fee. They argue that media files such as videos on google and yahoo clog up the information super highway known as the internet. This obviously can lead to viruses, unwanted spam and so on, which causes slower internet access for large companies. The communication companies argue that they built and ran these network lines so they should have the right to control the internet. Their right would be to make more money by offering those companies who can pay the most to have greater internet access and speed over a typical household consumer. This would obviously give an enormous advantage to large companies over small businesses. So the question that most of the United States would like truthfully answered is are the big businesses opposed to net neutrality because of viruses and spam or are they really in it for more money?

The proponents of net neutrality argue that equal access to the internet for all is what has lead to so much innovation and creativity. Without equal access, freedoms and innovation are obviously limited. Proponents argue the reason large communication companies want to eliminate net neutrality is so they can eliminate their competition; and they can do this because they will have control over the internet. They will function as internet police controlling what information you can view or through which service you can view it. Sadly, it’s all about money, which unfortunately isn’t a new concept in the business world, which is why I stated previously that this whole scenario was inevitable. Democratic representative Louise Slaughter is a strong advocate of net neutrality and states (on the bill against net neutrality) “it is a bill written by and for a limited number of companies that are already wildly profitable. Also they can make even more money and the American people will pay the price. This bill will limit online opportunities.”

As for my opinion, I side with net neutrality because laws put into place to oppose net neutrality will only benefit the few. Although, I feel that the reasons for opposition to net neutrality provided by large communication companies is not very insightful. I would like to hear more reasoning behind this and specific examples of negative scenarios that are possible if net neutrality continues. I personally think that without net neutrality, the internet won’t be as interactive as it is today. There won’t be any more web 2.0. This is a way for people in power to remove their threats and widen the gap between the rich and the poor. The more people become aware of net neutrality, the better chance we have to fight this in congress.

Friday, April 6, 2007

The Addiction of Living Without Consequence in Online Virtual Worlds.

When I first read my assignment for my internet-based communication class, I was stunned to say the least. I am not an online gamer and I felt that this assignment would take me days to complete since I have no prior knowledge on World of Warcraft and Second Life. I began thinking of my other classmates and how those who are not as computer literate as me could possibly complete this assignment. So I gave it a try and created an account on Second Life. As many of my other classmates I’m sure, I was completely lost; so I turned to Wikipedia, which usually answers my questions. When I read that people actually make real money creating items within this virtual world based on their computer technical skills, I immediately knew why my professor gave the class this assignment. Once again, the internet has been used to create another innovation which stretches our imaginations. What will they think of next?
I have heard of World of Warcraft before, which is supposedly very addicting among gamers to say the least. I asked my neighbor who is in high school how often he plays and he said to me “at least four hours a day”! How could this be? What seems to be the motivating factor in the popularity of these online role playing games is communication. In order to successfully play the game, you must interact and talk to other real people, which means there is no pre-determined effect, just like in real life. This helps people live out their own fantasy life and pretend to be something they are not. In fact, I don’t think the creators of Second Life could have come up with a better name because you are essentially living a second life. You can make friends and enemies, join groups, sell items, buy land and so on in these online role playing games.
What sets Second Life apart from World of Warcraft is the use of real money and that there is no physical competition among players. The use of real money is the perfect ingredient to encourage computer literate individuals to contribute to the game. Instead of paying computer programmers to develop the game, you make it free for all to contribute. This idea of open source software has become very popular among internet users as a way to challenge expensive fees that would normally be involved, like in World of Warcraft. Although Second Life isn’t as sophisticated graphically as other online role playing games, it could eventually become so.
It is true that in order to take full advantage of Second Life, you must pay around $72 per year, which enables you to purchase upgrades like a car, land, or clothes for example. In fact some people can make thousands of dollars off their own creation and give it a type of copyright so that you are the only one who can profit from it.
In order to play World of Warcraft, there is a fee, which for a limited time gives you access to everything the game has to offer. Real money is not being put into the virtual world in this game; it is being put into the hands of the game developers. Putting money into the virtual world can raise certain problems, like taxing, according to Wikipedia. People are obviously profiting from this game and it is supposed to be taxed, but how?
The lack of consequence in these role playing games stimulates an addiction among many gamers. For a little fee, you can have everything you have ever dreamed of. With the increasing popularity of these online games comes more innovation and realism. If there is money to be made with these games, then computer programmers will create. I believe more realism will produce even more popularity among these games.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Blogs as a Source For News

In comparing how different sources such as newspapers and blogs cover the latest news, it is important to consider what these sources can do and what they can’t do. As many already know, the internet has opened the doors wider to free speech than any government ever has or could possibly fathom of doing. Finally there is a place where people who share common beliefs and interests can meet and present their views and practice selective exposure. Many online blogs tend to be very one sided; others function as a courtroom open for debate which appear to be the most successful.
What distinguishes the functions of a newspaper from the functions of a blog is that writers for newspapers need credentials and with those credentials, are expected to follow a code of ethic that most writers for mainstream newspapers must follow in order to remain employed. This code of ethic is neutrality. Most daily newspapers report news and do not comment; that’s what the editorials are for. Online blogs are open for discussion and welcome people of all beliefs. When reading online blogs especially political blogs, you sometimes come across statements that would never find their way into a newspaper because many contributing bloggers have nothing to lose, whereas paid writers do; their job. The old saying “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all,” doesn’t hold true in the online community that is constantly pushing the limits of free speech. Talking bad about one’s current president would have rarely happened thirty years ago.
In comparing the coverage of very sensitive news like the Iraq War in a mainstream newspaper and an online news contributor like CNN or FOX News, I notice there isn’t much difference. So in order for me to notice a difference in coverage, I had to compare mainstream newspapers to political blogs. I decided to compare my hometown newspaper, The Buffalo News and the popular political news site/blog Daily Kos. The website address for Daily Kos is This particular Buffalo News article can be found on the front page on March 28th, 2007. The Daily Kos blog article is still on the front page as of March 29, 2007.
I don’t think I need to spend much time explaining the format or presentation of news in the Buffalo News because there isn’t much to explain. In this newspaper and many others, news is reported, not commentated on. If the news is commentated on, it is often very subtle that many readers don’t think twice about it. Most daily newspapers are considered neutral with a hint of liberalism or conservative-ism (I know it’s not a word). For example, the Washington Times is considered to be slightly more on the conservative side, whereas the Washington Post is slightly more on the liberal side.
In viewing the front page of the Daily Kos, text appears very scattered and random. But on the left hand side are all of the latest news and stories regarding politics. One thing I notice is that titles tend to be more creative than in newspapers. I notice in comparing the recent demand by the senate for Iraq troop pullout by 2008 that the Buffalo News summarizes the article, where Daily Kos seems to give a more general yet creative title. The title of the Buffalo News article is “Senate keeps demand for Iraq pullout in funding bill.” The title of the topic on Daily Kos is “Libercrats increasingly isolated.” First of all, “Libercrats” isn’t even a real word and wouldn’t be acceptable for a mainstream newspaper.
The structure of the news within the article is very opinionated and contains many quotes from numerous democrats. Each quote is dissected by the author (who is not named) and is usually disagreed with. The author appears very liberal yet criticizes many other democrats, who have commented on the current situation in Iraq. According to Mary Jones, political blogs have become increasingly popular because the intense conversations witnessed on blogs can generate far more excitement than anyone could possibly get reading a newspaper (Jones). Furthermore, the fact that you don’t have to have credentials to participate, generates an increasingly powerful membership, where you as a member can know for sure that your note to the author will make it on the website and made visible to all.
According to an article written by Eric Black for the Star Tribune, as of 2005, newspaper readership is declining mainly due to fewer baby boomers each year, who weren’t raised with televisions. The fact that online blogs can offer high resolution pictures, video clips, and numerous quotes, attract more readers than newspapers can.
Is declining newspaper readership a trend that will continue or is it just a phase? It would make sense that this trend will continue due to the ever changing possibilities of the internet. I believe that internet based websites that distribute news will establish more credibility among authors because facts can be checked on other websites with the click of the mouse. Instead of hearing one side of the story in newspapers, you can hear multiple rebuttals to opinions and comments to help establish an educated opinion. I believe that internet blogs help establish the freedom of speech and make news gathering more convenient and efficient. As long as membership to these blogs remains free of charge, we will continue to see increased growth and importance of these blogs.


Black, E. (2005, October 11). Newspapers turn page in this new media age.
Retrived March 29, 2007 from

Jones. M,L. (2007, February). Political Gamesmanship.
Retrieved March, 28, 2007 from

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

CMC: The Effectiveness of E-Mail in the Business World

Professional business relationships are often overlooked when it comes to internet mediated relationships within a group. Many studies and articles focus on informal relationships within blogs, online match making sites, and social networking sites like myspace and so on. Not as much effort is given to the study of Computer Mediated Communication (CMC) within a formal organization and its effectiveness. More effort should be taken to study communication within groups mediated by a computer or the internet because according to Joe Walther of Cornell, CMC communication is just as effective, if not more than interpersonal information (Griffin).

Due to my own personal lack of informal personal relationships mediated online, I will discuss how my daily interaction with my company through networked e-mail creates strong business relationships.

As I have mentioned in my previous blogs, I work as a retail salesman at Best Buy selling home audio and video products. Anyone who works or has worked in retail sales knows that vertical communication throughout the corporate hierarchy is important between management and departments. Managers cannot be expected to know every little detail about each department because they do not work that department; that’s why there are supervisors to control each department. A supervisor’s job requires specific communication with managers about their department or the store. As one of the supervisors of the Audio Video department, it is very important to communicate effectively with the managers. For example, if I was not satisfied with the way my employees handle certain situations or processes, I would communicate the problem with the managers and try to find a plausible solution.

But the question is how do I communicate specific situations with my managers? I have found that the company e-mail network run through Microsoft Outlook provides me with a formal and efficient way to communicate business with managers and other supervisors. Through our company e-mail network, I can find anyone’s e-mail address within the entire company by selecting the store number and employee last name. If I don’t know the employees name I can search by their company position or job. This makes the communication process much faster than looking in a phone book and contacting someone, who may not have time to talk to you. According to professor Em Griffin of Wheaton College, CMC offers you extended time to artfully craft your message so it is very clear and formal. CMC is asynchronous in that you have time to think about how you will respond to the receiver. The same benefits of CMC cannot be related to interpersonal communication. I have found that I get better results from my managers when I communicate to them via e-mail. I find CMC to be more formal than interpersonal communication because formal communication is what businesses rely on. In fact, I feel that my fellow employees take me more serious when I communicate to them via e-mail.

An article written by Roma Nowak of Information Week provides a survey of a couple hundred business professionals and why they preferred e-mail communication over phone communication. The number one response was response flexibility, which is the ability to respond at your convenience. The second most popular response was the ability to communicate with multiple parties. This brings up another major benefit of e-mail communication. The ability to carbon copy an e-mail to multiple people is much easier and less chaotic than a phone conference or three way call. E-mail to me, appears a more civilized way of handling business relationships. Many companies believe in keeping separate your personal and business life and I feel that text is much less personal than spoken words.

I originally didn’t have an e-mail address at work, but once my managers realized how much more effective my communication could be with an e-mail address, they gave me one. Now my business relationships with my fellow employees are stronger than ever because of my ability to communicate with them, which has gained me trust among them.


Griffin, E. (2004). Communication: A First Look At Communication Theory: Sixth Edition

Nowak, R. (2003). E-mail beats the phone in business communication. Retrieved March 21,
2007 from

Friday, March 16, 2007

The coining of the term Web 2.0 by O’Reilly Media in 2004 to describe the “second generation of web-based services” brought about more emphasis on developing websites to become more user-interactive. More interaction online means increased participation from all types of people on the web to develop more two way communication, making the internet a very powerful tool. These interactive websites include such features as RSS feeds, social bookmarking, wikis, and podcasts.
One example of an interactive online application is is a “user driven social content website,” according to the websites “about us” link. The website describes a digg as a “digital media democracy.” The website allows free access to all people, who can contribute articles, videos podcasts, etc. that can be found online that are interesting. The incentive for posting articles on is that members feel that these articles are interesting enough to be brought to the attention of many others, which otherwise would not have had many hits on its original website. Becoming a member only requires an e-mail address and a birth date. As a member, you can either digg an article or bury it. In other words, you can approve it for further viewing from other members or decline it. Burying an article helps eliminate spam from the website. The articles popularity depends on how many diggs it gets. The articles with the most diggs, gets a spot on the front page. is very easy to navigate through. On the websites home page, you can choose to search for news or topics in text, podcasts, or videos. To the right is a search bar that allows you to search via keywords for posts on any subject. You can view the most popular diggs that have been posted within the last 24 hours, 7 days, 30 days, or year by clicking the link. What makes this website even more user oriented is that you can create and post your own article instead of posting someone else’s. The amount of diggs you receive is a sign of social status on the website and could land you a spot on youtube or popular blogs.
Also at the top of the home page of are six main subjects that you can narrow your search interests to. These subjects are linked as follows: technology, science, world and business, sports, entertainment, and gaming.
If you are interested in articles or videos for example that a certain person contributes to, you can subscribe to an RSS feed that sends you all submissions by that one person. Many members subscribe to their friends and discuss each others submissions to create a common interest and unity in the virtual world. Members can also subscribe to RSS feeds based on their interest in certain subjects like music, technology, gaming, etc. is an excellent example of an interactive online application, which gives the users power to share and create. You’re your own boss because you can digg or bury any article you want based on your preferences and interests. allows you to use one news archive for finding stories, news, and video in one stop, eliminating the hassle of using search engines that continuously bring up irrelevant hits.’s professional look and ease of use can attract people of all ages and computer knowledge backgrounds.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Drop the Nickname and Establish your Credibility

Fictional online identities are becoming a thing of the past. Instant Messaging has lost its grip around America’s youth and has been replaced with social networking forums like FaceBook and MySpace. People who partake in online social networking forums almost always identify themselves with their first name and not a nickname or pseudonym because they want to be credited with their contribution, whether they are videos, photos or even opinions. I believe people can’t describe themselves in one nickname. Human beings are too complex to be described in one nickname. An online nickname like Mr. Democrat for example is too broad. Are we to assume that this person will always take a stance with democrats on all subjects? My answer is no. I believe in providing ones real name online because it doesn’t lead to any assumptions about that person and that your expectations and opinions of that person are neutral prior to viewing their work. Providing your real name online establishes your credibility with a larger audience, who will read or view your work and not just turn you away based on your name. To provide support to my idea of online credibility, Judith S. Donath states “No matter how brilliant the posting, there is no gain in reputation if the readers are oblivious to whom the author is” (Donath).

Building ones credibility online is more crucial than ever with all kinds of attempts of deception and misinterpreted information online. Knowing an actual name of someone who contributed something online automatically increases their status in the virtual community and is a small yet significant step towards more credibility online. As users of the internet, we should not identify ourselves by nicknames because nicknames are for infamous hackers, who contribute nothing to the online community and are pathetic deceptive individuals in my opinion.

Social networking websites dedicated to matching someone with their significant other have become a prime example of the transition of pseudonyms to actual names as forms of online identification. An article written in the Toronto Star by an unknown author describes the problems faced by many men on the website Lavalife, which is very similar to eharmony and Many of these men would describe themselves in a short paragraph, which would generate interest among many women, but when the women tried to interpret the men’s nicknames, they became confused. One example of a nickname was “curious cupid,” which didn’t match his opening line of “1000 words are worth a picture” (Toronto).

The article focuses on a man named Frank, who has been on sixty different dates and has been disappointed on every one. His main complaint is the person he meets face to face isn’t the person who he had chatted with online. It can be argued that providing ones real name online is one step closer to online credibility. In fact, that would be an interesting study for social scientists to perform to see how providing ones real name online effects the trust and believability of recipients of that information.

Even though I have not condoned the use of nicknames online created by the user him or herself, I don’t see anything wrong with nicknames being generated by other people to describe a person. For example, a famous writer named Stephen Glass for the New Republic made headlines everywhere providing his readers with very provocative readings that seemed to match with main stream stereotypes. These readings were later discovered to have been fabricated in 1998. A movie was made about him entitled “Shattered Glass” and a book was written entitled “The Fabulist,” by Stephen Glass himself, which is what people called him after his downfall (Wikipedia).

An online blog that I participate in is Home Theater Forum. As an electronic retail salesman, I need to know my product and be as knowledgeable as I can for the customers. Becoming a member of Home Theater Forum is free, but does require a user name. That user name must be a real name; it can’t be a fictitious name like Plasma Man for example. They want to create a very formal atmosphere without profanity where people can discuss the latest technology and be personally credited for their work.

I believe that nicknames in general aren’t bad, but sometimes when they are used online, it creates a sense of distrust and lack of credibility. Look in any newspaper or academic journal and I guarantee you won’t find a credited author represented by his or her nickname. I also believe that the popularity of nicknames will decrease with the ever rising use of online social networking forums.


Donath, Judith S. (1996, October 12). Identity and Deception in the Virtual Community.
Retrieved February 21, 2007 From

Toronto Star. (2006, April 7). A few more good men. Retrieved February 22, 2007 From

Wikipedia. Stephen Glass. Retrieved February 23, 2007 From