Monday, November 24, 2008

Social Networking: Our Small World

Today I read “Fitting Our Tools to a Small World”, which is chapter 9 of Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations. This book was written by Clay Shirky and published in 2008. In this chapter, Shirky talks about social networking, both on the internet and in the real world. He starts off introducing the reader to a “small world” example of two airplane passengers sitting next to each other that find out they know the same people (“What a small world!”). Shirky then goes on to explain how it is not so much a small world as many may believe. There are numerous factors to why these two passengers may know the same people. As Shirky points out, they departed from and are arriving to the same places, which according to Shirky (2008), may increase the chance that they know the same people. In the rest of this chapter, Shirky goes into further detail on how social networks are organized, how the web is used in creating social networks, as well as different tactics used to create and further develop social networks.

In explaining social networking, Skirky cites Watts and Strogatz’s pattern called the “Small World network.” According to Watts and Strogatz (1998), Small World networks are made up of small, densely connected groups, and large, sparsely connected groups (cited by Shirky, 2008). The small dense networks are then connected with each other to form a large social network. The people in the small groups will know more about each other, but the whole larger network with “know of” everyone. I think this is a great show of how any social network works. Whether you are in college or on Myspace, there are these small groups of friends that you know a lot about, and then there are others that you know through your friends.

Shirky further explains this friend-of-a-friend networking using the social networking service dodgeball, which was designed for mobile phone users. Users can send a text message to the dodgeball service, which will then send it to all of the user’s friends, as well as let the user know of others that will be at the same location (either friends or friends of a friend). If a friend of a friend will be at the same location, users will receive a message with a digital picture of the person, which they can use to locate this person and introduce themselves. I find this social networking program very interesting. It is taking the “small world” theory and acting upon it.

In closing, I would like to note that this chapter by Clay Shirky was very informative. Not only was it written in a way that kept me wanting to read, but the subjects and topics were ones I could relate to. I felt very educated on the topic of social networking, and it is now clear that our world might not be that small, but thanks to our social networks it might just seem that way.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Blogosphere: Where Will it Take You?

When you think of a blog what is the first thing that comes to mind? Your first thought is probably that a blog is a place on the internet where you can write and anyone can read it. This is correct, but it is also so much more. A newly created blog might start out this way, but as time passes a blog can evolve into a community. Not all blogs make it this far and this could be due to a number of reasons, such as the blog’s content, the number of readers it has, and the number of advertisements that are displayed. For a blog to have the ability to evolve into a community these aspects must be perfect. This is because there are tens of thousands of blogs created daily, and nobody has the time to look through all of them. If you choose to subscribe to a blog, be prepared to join the community. There will be many posts to read, but these posts create a place to comment as well.

Choosing a blog to subscribe to can be hard work because there are so many blogs, but there are many websites you can go visit to find the top blogs for particular topics. An example of this would be, which has a blog directory where blogs are placed into categories and sub-categories. They also have a list of the top 100 blogs. For someone new to the blogosphere this would be a good place to start in your search for a blog to subscribe to. If you can’t find a blog through a site like technorati, don’t worry. Many of the blogs I am subscribed to I have found just using a search engine. Due to the large number of blogs that are now in existence, it is no surprise that some end up on the first page of many popular search engines. The only problem with finding blogs through search engines is that there will be a lot of evaluating to do, but as the internet grows so does the need for evaluation. According to Aaron Barlow (2008), there is a need to be “neterite”, or literate in electronic communication. The more “neterite” you are, the easier it will be to find a blog that both interests you and is full of useful credible information. While looking for a blog to subscribe to I had to use my “neteracy” to sift through the garbage. It is cool to find a site that interests you, but if the information is not true, the community may not be either.

The blog I chose to subscribe to was John Chow’s, which can be found at On this blog John discusses everything from how to make money using internet marketing programs to how his trip to the aquarium was. Although the blog may seem to vary too much, it doesn’t because John is a very informative writer. He does not tell everything about his personal life, only that he went to the aquarium, it was good for these reasons, bad for these reasons, and if you want to go you can visit their website. These posts don’t happen too often either. The posts are usually about John’s life using the internet as his source of income. When looking at John’s blog you may notice that there are advertisements. A lot of times when you find a blog with lots of advertisements, the blog’s credibility is questionable. John’s blog is different. There are advertisements, but they are neatly displayed and labeled. He is not hiding anything or just placing them all over the blog in hopes that someone will click them.

In my first week of observing John’s blog, I did look at peoples’ comments, but did not post any of my own. Most of the comments are on-topic, but there a few that are not. This is another place where being “neterite” can be helpful. You will know how to spot off-topic and nonsense comments and pass right by them. Towards the end of the week I did end up commenting on a post that had been guest blogged by a friend of John. It was a post that I could relate to so I wrote what I thought and posted my comment. I included my name, as many others seemed to do also. This gave me a sense that there are people commenting on John’s blog that have nothing to hide. A few hours after I posted my comment somebody replied to it. This was when I realized how blogs can become communities. With the right content that brings enough commenting readers, a community can be created. Readers can not only comment to John, but with each other, and by doing so they can create a community. They may get to know each other by handle and follow each other’s comments. The possibilities are endless.

In conclusion, a blog is a place on the internet where you can write for anyone to read, but with the right content, readers and appearance, a blog can evolve into a community. By becoming “neterite” finding a good blog and sifting through the bad ones becomes easier. This will also aid in knowing how to create a blog of your own that will evolve and flourish. You will know what readers want in a blog, and by giving these readers what they want and participating with them, you too can create your very own community!

Works Cited
Barlow, A. (2008). Bloggin America: The New Public Sphere. Westport: Praeger Publishers.
Technorati. (n.d.). Retrieved November 12, 2008, from

Following a Blog - Day 5 Final Observation

John continued to make at least one or two posts a day for the past couple days, but I did not find them as interesting. I had wanted to post a comment and see what reaction I got. So posting a comment about something that didn't interest me did not make sense. Also John has 40,000 people that are subscribed to his blog and can comment daily (of course non-subscribers can too). So whatever I was going to have to be recent in order to get my comment seen. On November 10th John posted How Planning Can Make You Broke. If you are like me you were probably under the assumption that it is always a good idea to have a plan. That's what business plans are for, no?

This post was guest blogged by Alex Shalman, who has a website about relationships. He talks about how he always had a plan to write an ebook that he would give away for to give away for free to promote his site. For over a year this was his plan. Until a friend at a radio station asked him for an interview. He knew on air exposure would be great so he pulled to all-nighters and finished the ebook in 3 days, just in time for the interview. The basic concept behind his post was that taking action is more important than your plan. I totally agreed. As a college student it is so easy to plan to do school work and put it off until it is due.

I wanted to be taken seriously, so when I commented I used the handle Jonathan R and included a picture of myself. I wrote what I thought and how relevant this was to me as a college student. Part of my comment included me stating, "It is great to think you have a plan, but most of the time they don’t work out, especially with things you don’t really want to do." I received a reply within a few hours by a guy whose handle was Kok Choon, which I think may be his name. He said, "Yeh, no action no gain, no matter how good is your plan!" This made me feel like my comment added to the post in that it was good enough for a reply. It is good to see that the blogosphere is not only is a place to write, but a place where the community can share their thoughts through comments. This gave me a first hand look at how blogging can create a community.

Following a Blog - Day 4 Observation

When John says he will post at least once or twice a day he means it! November 6th, and John continues posting twice a day. Today he has posts Protect Your Blogging Gear with the Invisible Shield and The Downside of Huge Traffic. In the first post he mentions a product made to protect an iPhone. It is clear and when applied to the iPone can protect it from scratches and cracks. He uses a video that shows how good it works against a key! The other post, The Downside of Huge Traffic has to do with a guy, Ken Imhoff, that spent 17 years building a Lamborghini in his basement. The story gets wild when John tells you how this guy got the car out of his basement. He had to dig a hole and blow out a wall of his house! Think that's bad, it gets worse. He created a website that show a timeline of the cars creation, and it became very popular. So popular that his web host, GoDaddy, charged him $957 in overage charges for the month!

John jokes, and is probably right, in saying that he should have contacted him about how to make money from his site. Now this poor guy has a message asking for donations on his site. If he had only heard of internet marketing before his site blew up! A lot of information can also be learned from reading the comments. Turns out that just because GoDaddy is a popular web hosting service it is not necessarily the best. GoDaddy sets a monthly limit on how much bandwith you can use, but there are others that, for the same price, allow unlimited badwith. Just shows how important it is to do your research.

Check out this car though! You can visit his website at

Following a Blog - Day 3 Observation

It's November 5th and John has posted twice again. Today he posted about A Visit to the Vancouver Aquarium and an Update on Tim's Stock Pick. Now I have always thought that is not a good idea to blog about your personal life, however, John does so in such a way that it is not totally about his life. He is posting information about the Vancouver Aquarium within a post about his trip. Readers can use this information if they intend on visiting this attraction. Decided to look at the comments on this post to see how other readers responded to it. Most of the talked about the aquarium or some of the pictures he posted. Seems like one of his posts everyday is informative, but not that interesting to me, and the other is informative and I find it extremely interesting.

The other post titled Update on Tim's Stock Pick was about another blogger named Timothy that gave a good stock recommendation on his blog. He advised a short-sell, which is where you make money when a stock goes down. Tim predicted it would drop from $4.50 a share to $2.50 a share, and it dropped all the way to $2. This would double your money! This blog was very interesting to me because I used to be into trading stocks, it's how I got my first car!, but the market is so volatile now that it is hard to analyze stock trends. Good to see people are still making money!

Following a Blog - Day 2 Observation

John's last post, Blog Income Report got tons of comments people congratulating him and asking questions. It is good to see that John replies to comments and is active on his blog. I have been reading John's blog for a bit and he has said in an older post that he started the blog with the intention of posting at least once or twice a day, and he had held up. On November 4th there were two posts made by John. One was about how to copy and paste on a mac and pc. This was informative, but his other post interested me more.

The other post was titled, BlogRush May Be Dead But John Reese Still Living Large. In this post he explains that another successful internet marketer, by the name of John Reese, had suffered a $500,000 loss in the creation of his site The site did not take off like John Reese had hoped it would so the project, which was supposed to help drive traffic to bloggers' blogs, was terminated. John Chow urged readers not to worry as John Reese is more successful than him, apparently making $1million in 24 hours. John decided to post some pictures of his "friend" John Reese's car and house. All a can say is amazing! I must note that John also says something that gives him credit, in my eyes, as a business man. He states, "He tried and failed with BlogRush, but that’s what being an entrepreneur is all about. Better to try and fail then not try at all." This is what it's all about unfortunately not all of us have the finances to keep trying and failing.

Check out some pictures of the entreprenuer John Reese's house. This one looks like an idea room. Guess you just keep thinking of more ways to make money!

Following a Blog - Day 1 Intro & Observation

So for the next essay I am writing I will be following a blog and writing on my findings. I will be looking at aspects such as community, topics, comments, etc. Due to the fact that I am interested in internet marketing, and have been for awhile, I chose John Chow's blog, which can be found at The reason I chose John Chow's blog is because he is someone that has made a lot of money using internet marketing. He is not selling a get-rich-quick book, only telling his story about how he used internet marketing to make money, and eventually live off it. He has made various websites and makes a lot of money! Why read a blog where the author makes $100 a month, when you can read one where the author makes $30,000 a month.

That's right on my first day of observing, November 3rd, John posted a blog income report. This shows the money that he is making solely from his blog. He breaks it up into different categories so you can get an idea of the type of programs he is using. The majority of his income comes from affiliate ads (where companies pay him per click or a percentage per sale), private ads (where comopanies pay a monthly fee to appear on his blog), and ReviewMe (where people pay him to review there site on his blog). The grand total for the month of October: $34,350.93. The possibilities of the internet are amazing!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tensions of Online Communication in LiveJournal

Today I read the article "'Shout into the wind, and it shouts back.' Identity and interactional tensions on LiveJournal" by Lori Kendall, which was published in 2007. This article was based on personal research that Kendall performed for two years regarding LiveJournal. According to Kendall, LiveJournal is a weblogging system that incorporates social-networking features, where users can create friends lists and display their interests. LiveJournal is a place where you can post "journal" entries as a mean of communicating with friends, family members, and the world, but having the ability to write an intimate diary also creates many tensions, such as: privacy, efficiency, and audience control. Kendall breaks her article up into different sections and discusses each of these separately. The two tensions that I found most interesting were those of privacy and audience control.

In discussing privacy on LiveJournal, Kendall talked about who the writers are writing to in their journals and why. Based on her research, many users choose to write on topics that others will find interesting, while at the same time not getting too personal. Because their writing can be viewed by anyone if it is posted publicly, they know that people do not want to read about their whole life. There is instead a focus on keeping their readers entertained. I believe that this is definitely true of many of the users of LiveJournal because many people are very conscious of the way that they are perceived, and do not want people to get the wrong idea of them.

Another feature of LiveJournal that Kendall talks about gives users the ability to control who sees their writing. Users have the option of making their entries public, where everyone can view them, private, where only the writer can see them, or hand selecting specific individuals that can see the entries. My first thought was that a lot of people would write daily entries that they kept private, but according to Kendall, this is not the case. Most people do write publicly, but often have to filter who they want to see the message. This is because aside from giving users the ability to write, LiveJournal also gives users the ability to network and create various friend groups, family groups, and work groups. If entries are not posted unfiltered then family members may see the how you talk with your friends and co-workers, which may not be the best idea. I think that this may be a plus and a minus for users. I definitely agree that I do not talk or act the same when placed in different environments, such as with friends and with family, but I believe that the process of filtering could also be a minus because of the need to select who you omit and include. You can set up specific groups, but if you do not want a certain person in a group to know something, you have to omit them. This can be a timely process and could even negatively change the way someone views you if you forget to omit them.

I have never personally used LiveJournal, but it seems to be fairly similar to blogging. I do not know if it was originally intended for users to write for themselves or for an audience, but it seems the tendency is to do the latter. I believe that in this sense both bloggers and LiveJournal users are both aware of the audience that they are writing for. Kendall did not go into great detail about the differences between the two, but I think it would be interesting to read more on the subject. If you are interested in learning more about LiveJournal, you can visit their website at

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Blogosphere: Are You "Neterite"?

Today I read “The Blogs in Society”, which is chapter 2 of the book Blogging America by Aaron Barlow that was published in 2008. In this chapter, Barlow discusses the issue of blogs and societies. Due to the large number of blogs that have been created and continue to be created, the credibility of these blogs is becoming harder and harder to judge. There are absolutely blogs that create total nonsense, but there are also blogs that contribute to society; real or virtual. Determining whether blogs help, hinder, or do nothing for society is in the eye of the beholder, which according to Barlow (2008), depends largely on the level of “neteracy” that person has.

Barlow describes “neteracy” as how literate a person is on the issue of electronic communication, in particularly blogging. Someone who is not “neterite” may find it hard to navigate through blogs for information that is relevant and credible, a task that can be completed by someone who is “neterite” very quickly. I completely agree with what Barlow says here about “neteracy” because it is often discouraging for people that are not “neterite” to use the internet in general, let alone have to find what they are looking for and determine if it is nonsense or helpful. The large number of blogs and the large number of people that are not “neterite” has also contributed to the many misconceptions of the blogging community.

One of these misconceptions that Barlow points out is that of community. Does the creation of blogs help, hinder or do nothing for the blogging community? Many people that are not “neterite” may argue that the creation of more and more blogs is diluting the helpful and useful information out there, but this is not necessarily the case. According to Barlow (2008), although it may seem like there is a large number of blogs being created that hinder the blogging community, it is actually, more times than not, being strengthened. I that this point that Barlow makes is also very true. The fact is if you are not “neterite”, and have a hard time sifting through the good and the nonsense, you are going to come to the conclusion that it is all nonsense, but this is not the case. The blogging technology definitely strengthens communities. You have people writing and reading on specific views of certain topics, which they can then comment on. The ability to be able to find other people that have similar views and share your views with them actually encourages growth for that community.

There are so many other things Barlow talked about in this chapter that I would love to go into, but it can be summed up saying that the internet and the blogosphere are growing every day. Blogs may be created on just about anything from political topics to how you spent your day in the park, and this has led to many people to question blogging. What it is and where is it going? These are questions that do not have one right answer, but many different opinions. In my opinion, it is a place where people can share their thoughts on anything they want that can be read by anyone who is interested. If an individual is “neterite” enough it can be a place to create ties and strengthen communities.