Archive for February, 2010

Study Outline: Hypertext in History and the Web in Developing Countries   no comments

Posted at 3:46 pm in Linguistics,Sociology

Broad Topic Area

The Web is pervading the world’s population. Global fluctuations in demographics result in varying levels of access and use of the Web, often dependant upon the development level and GDP of a country and/or its internal demographic groups. The division of information-“rich” and -“poor” can have profound effects upon segregation, especially given the economic and social benefits that may be gained through the Web – the largest information resource in the world.

Topic One: Historical Literature and Modern Hypertext

However, this phenomenon has occurred before, and continues to be observed. The development of woodblock printing and, later, moveable type brought information and knowledge to the masses, resulting in a process where information-rich and -poor demographics become closer together. Through intertextuality, texts have created references between works for millennia.

In this discipline, I propose to identify parallels or discrepancies between the pervasion of historical means of information dissemination (e.g. printed type) and the modern Web.

The term ‘intertextuality’ has been used by various linguists to represent different concepts. The first portion of my work will be to define intertextuality in the context of the study I wish to undertake. This is likely to be through those who have have drawn parallels between intertextuality and the Web.

Work this Week

  • Review sources (including new sources).
  • Arrange meeting with Mary Orr.

New Sources Found

Intertextuality in the Fiction and Criticism (MUP 2005)

Preliminary Sources

Mary Orr. Intertextuality: Debates and Contexts.
Leu Jr et al. Toward a theory of new literacies emerging from the Internet and other information (2004).

Meeting with Prof. Mary Orr.

Topic Two: Sociology

With the above issues in mind, the Internet is likely to be tangibly altering communities. The second part of this study aims to identify modern-day implications of the Web worldwide, and how it may affect poorer countries. The exact definition of this section will become clearer following consultation with sources and researchers. Furthermore, findings from section one will inform the development of this section.

Mike Santer has experience of the transformations that are taking place, and is actively researching in the area. Meeting with him will yield additional sources and viewpoints that will inform this section.

Work this Week

  • Arrange meeting with Mike Santer.
  • Extend sources list, read literature.

Preliminary Sources

Mohamed Ally. Mobile Learning: Transforming the Delivery of Education and Training.
www.ist-africa.org (Regional Impact of Information Society Technologies in Africa)
Collaboration with researchers active in the field (Mike Santer).
Quintin Gee.

NB: This post delayed due to illness at the close of the previous week.

Written by Russell Newman on February 22nd, 2010

Politics and Law on Linked Data   no comments

Posted at 9:54 pm in Law,Politics

Introduction
Note: this is a working draft, small changes to the brief will probably occur as research is done.

In order to keep these topics relevant to possible future work and research, the disciplines which will be summarised shall have tangible links to the topic of Linked Data.

A suitable and very current web phenomenon, linked data provides a new platform for society to share and creeat new information in much the same way as the original web. Understanding how this may effect various parts of our lives may help us guides its and the standard web’s development. However this requires some form of knowledge of the areas/relevant theories it may effect.

Disciplines
The disciplines that shall be explored are Law and Politics.

Law is a concern as new technologies such as linked data may offer new challenges to copyright, privacy and the standard raft of web based policies and laws. A key example of this is how the data.gov.uk linked data service prompted the creation of a new form of creative commons license for government data which is aligned to the Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

Key topics for law include:

  • Copyright and IPR
  • Confidentiality and Privacy
  • Jurisdiction
  • Law and the web (how the above translate into practice on the web)

Politics is relevant as governments attempt to use new technologies such as linked data to improve their key services as well as increase public opinion. Government linked data effort

Key topics for Politics:

  • Core government structure, services and aims
  • Transparency and openness
  • Policy making, the processes involved

Sources to follow. Look out for a revision on the key topics also.

Written by tww106 on February 21st, 2010

E-democracy and the World Wide Web   no comments

Posted at 5:55 am in Politics,Sociology

E-democracy (electronic democracy or digital democracy) is a relatively new concept. It can be defined as the usage of information and communication technologies (ICT) for the enhancement of the participation of citizens in the democratic process. However, it can be argued that these technologies and especially the World Wide Web can play a bigger role in that process, by providing opportunities for reshaping the way democratic institutions currently work.

In order to evaluate the above statement, a thorough study of the way Democracy works is needed. Furthermore, prevalent ideologies within democratic states are factors that affect the degree of adoption of e-democracy, so studying Political Science textbooks is a way to be introduced to the most important ones.

The study of issues like collective action, discourse and decision making is crucial for gaining an understanding of the democratic process on both an offline context and the Web. For this reason, knowledge of Sociology and its basic principles is needed.

Some books to be used as an introduction to the aforementioned disciplines are:

Political Science:

  • Political Ideologies: an introduction – Eccleshal et al
  • Political Sociology: a critical introduction – Faulks

Sociology:

  • Sociology – Giddens
  • Sociology: A Global Introduction – Macionis, Plummer

Some other books that may be useful are:

  • The Myth of Digital Democracy – Hindman
  • Sociology in the Age of the Internet (Sociology and Social Change) – Cavanagh
  • The Social Net: Human behavior in cyberspace – Amichai-Hamburger

Written by el3e09 on February 20th, 2010

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Privacy of the individual in the global village of the World Wide Web (1st Post)   1 comment

Posted at 1:29 am in Psychology,Sociology

Privacy is the ability of an individual or group to seclude themselves or information about themselves and thereby reveal themselves selectively (as defined in Wikipedia). In other words, the individual has the ability to decide what is private, i.e. belongs only to him and what is public, i.e. is open to others as well.
However, in practice preserving one’s privacy or private information is not an easy task. In addition to this, in many cases the boundaries between private and public are obscure; especially on the Web, privacy is an area of controversy.
Nowadays, as people post their personal data online for various reasons (in social networking sites, blogs, electronic purchases etc.), many are concerned about who can control/access their data after these are exposed online. On the other hand, a significant number of people, especially younger people, are quite confident about posting their data online and feel no threats regarding their privacy; some of them are also ignorant of the possible threats. A privacy paradox emerges, as many people talk about intrusion of their privacy online, yet nobody actually takes action against it.
Numerous questions regarding privacy arise, such as which are the boundaries of privacy, how important is online privacy, how much information should people post online, how much information do organisations and governments actually need etc.
From a social standpoint, the Web is a “global village”, a very large social network, where anyone has the ability to access a great deal of information. This “global village” is beyond the boundaries of a specific group or nation, but extends itself worldwide. That means that each individual does not anymore belong to a small town or village; instead the Web contributes to bringing people from different backgrounds closer.
Since invasion of privacy is a common phenomenon on the Web, it affects global society directly.
However, different nations and cultures may have different opinions on what is public and what is private. Especially, eastern societies, which are more conservative, may have more strict opinions on certain privacy matters. Significantly, people who belong to some social/religious groups or are socially isolated for some reason, may be more vulnerable in terms of privacy.
Many are of the opinion that with the appearance of social networking sites, privacy is not anymore a social norm. Is this actually true? Should we stop believing that some information just belongs to us, but is open to the public instead?

From a psychological standpoint, people behave differently during their online interactions than during their offline interactions and something that they would consider public in the offline world, they may regard it as private in the offline world or vice versa. Of great interest are also topics such as the reasons why some people post their intimate thoughts or experiences online without thinking about the consequences and the way people manage or experiment with their online identities. Many people adopt an online persona, which might be very different than their actual self. This online role playing game, may be helpful to some (for instance to teenagers, who are at the stage of establishing their identity), but it might provoke privacy breaches, when malicious users try to hide themselves behind a mask. In the past, there have been many cases where people with malicious motives have approached others online (especially younger people).
To sum up, all the above mentioned are some initial thoughts on approaching the matter of privacy on the World Wide Web and are definitely going to be enriched and altered after thorough research. The list given below contains a number of books taken from these two disciplines that may be helpful in the analysis of the concept of privacy.

Reading List:

A. Sociology
• Global Sociology by R. Cohen, P. Kennedy 2nd Edition (2007)
• Social Divisions by G. Payne 2nd Edition (2007)
• Introductory Sociology by T.Bilton et al. 4th Edition (2002)
• Sociology by A. Giddens 6th Edition (2009)
• Sociology, Themes and Perspectives by Haralambos and Holborn 7th Edition (2008)
• The rise of the network society by M. Castells Volume 1 2nd Edition (2000)
• The power of Identity by M. Castells Volume 2 2nd Edition (2004)
• The Internet Galaxy by M. Castells (2001)
• Computerization and Controversy: Value Conflicts and Social Choices by R. Kling 2nd Edition
(1996)
• Social Identity and Social Cognition by D. Abrams (1999)
• Born Digital: Understanding the first generation of digital natives by J. Palfrey (2008)
• Understanding Social Problems: Issues on Social Policy by M. May (2001)

B. Psychology
• Psychology by G. Martin et al. 3rd European Edition (2007)
• The Psychology of the Internet by P. Wallace (1999)
• Introduction to Social Psychology by R. Lippa (1999)
• Psychology – The Science of Mind and Behaviour by P. Gross 5th Edition (2005)

Written by az4g09 on February 20th, 2010

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Brief for Independent Disciplinary Review   1 comment

Posted at 10:46 pm in Economics,Sociology

    Issues

The Web has been always studied as a technology. The features of it usually are associated with technology invention rather than evaluating its value in the market. For example, people want to press their blogs and contribute to the Wikipedia without any money returns, which are considered as a social activity. That is true. However, how to transfer this activity into real market to make profit should be considered as well.

The issue I want to address in this module is to find out how to measure the value of user-generated content and also the valuable assets in the Semantic Web, which is one of the open questions in the economist’s view of Web Science. The Web has been changing without a break since it was released in the world. It changes from a system to publish information into a platform in which people can edit and publish their contents freely and easily. One of the reasons that bring this change within the Web is coming from Web 2.0, especially the user-generated feature of Web 2.0. Although it is the freeness and openness that promotes people to participate in the content construction with a great enthusiasm, it does not mean that the nature is to generate contents only. However, there should be a market to make these activities valuable. Consequently, how to dig out the element of economic stimulus and at the same time without losing the passion of people to build those contents is becoming a question to be studied in further researches. Moreover, the next generation Web visibly tends to be the Semantic Web which will integrate information and supply intelligent services through intelligent agents rather than artificially. The value therefore will not only come from the services, but also stay in the mechanism and the intelligences on the Web. So it is worth digging out the value of the Semantic Web and transferring it into the society and the market as well.

    Disciplines

There are two disciplines in this research which are economics and sociology. The main focus of this research is standing in the economic point of view to measure the economic value of the Web. Therefore, it is very necessary to do research in economic aspect. Meanwhile, as economics cannot be applied without the society, it is helpful to combine the sociology with economics to get deep understanding about it. The sociology is based on the whole society to understand the structure, function and the law of development of our society through studying the social relations and social behaviors. Due to the enlarging influence of the Web, the social relations and social behaviors have been changed correspondingly. Consequently, by studying the nature of society and the changes caused by the Web, we can sufficiently to understand the society in nowadays and the development tendency, catching the insight to apply on the economic analysis.

    Current Reading List

Economics by N. Gregory Mankiw , Mark P. Taylor

This book is about the basic concept of economics. It will help to understand how the economy works in the society.

Innovation Management and New Product Development by Dr Paul Trott

It is a useful book for transferring the technology into the real market. It is also used in the innovation module to help find a suitable way to connect different disciplines from technology aspect to the management aspect. The most important part is to tell us how to apply the new technology within the real market to improve the society.

Sociology Work and Industry by Tony J. Watson

This book describes how the discipline of sociology are understood and used in industry aspect. In the book, what is sociology is explained first and then connected with the industry to give wider understanding.

Understanding Classical Sociology by John A. Hughes, Wes W.Sharrock, Peter J. Martin

Written by ch9e09 on February 19th, 2010

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social activities and outputs   no comments

Posted at 5:47 pm in Psychology,Sociology

To give me some ideas of what chapters to focus on when studying the very large introductory texts on my chosen topics – sociology and psychology I scanned over two books for current ideas into online societies.

1. Reputation in Online Societies, Roasari Conte and Mario Paolucci.

Subject of the book was an investigation into a set of intertwined phenomena: image, reputation and gossip, that play a vital role in societies. The books main conviction is that this same or analogous set is likely to promote the development of information and technology societies.

I found this book difficult to read, very technical and I believe it was just a phD thesis that had just been dumped into book form, with little care for layout of chapters, themes and conclusions.

Also the book is more concerned about user-agents rather than actual physical people as authors wanted to test their hypotheses about behaviour using computer user-agents. This book was not as useful to my review as its title had originally suggested.

2.The Rise of the Network society, Manuell Castells

This book was better structured and had some good insights into why individuals sometimes join societies. One of the ideas put forward is that it is part of the search for new connectedness around shared, reconstructed identity. Also that shift from mechanical to information technologies has subverted our notions of sovereignty and self-sufficiency that had provided us with some anchoring for individual identity since two millennia ago. This search for new connectedness was found not only to exist in West but also in East where in Japan in 1995, the young highly educated generation exhibited an almost desperate need to build a new collective self, significantly mixing spirituality and global business relations.

Also I have been reading World Brain by HG Wells, to see how ideas for highly connected societies with collective outputs occupied the thoughts of a famous science fiction writer, who was writing in age before the information technology society of late 1900s even existed. My initial conclusions is that HG Wells was an unwavering optimist, and that part of reasons that many of his predictions and hopes have never been realised is that humans and human societies are imperfect, and due to their large population size the voices of a few luminaries often gets drowned out in the crowd.

Actions decided for next week:

Find most useful key themes for society’s values, cultures and norms from core textbooks and  start to find links to further related material

Next week I will do a more controlled approach, instead of looking for proof of how online communities are found to be similar or else unlike traditional physical communities, I will look at case studies or examples of each and do my own comparing and contrasting. This is because after an initial search of library there is little or no material about this particular theme. While this makes it harder to back up and verify any conclusions it will at least mean I will be adding new knowledge to an interesting Web Science related theme.

Written by cm7e09 on February 19th, 2010

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Online Identity (Brief) – First Post   no comments

Posted at 5:38 pm in Sociology

RESEARCH ISSUE – ONLINE IDENTITY:

Overview:

A very interesting issue for research would be to investigate the concept of identity on the Web and the possible consequences of potential anonymity – such as ‘Flaming.’

Identity on the Web is an important area to be examined, as people may be able to portray a different identity online than in the physical world. Therefore, it may enable people to voice an opinion without constraints, or depict a variant identity online – for example how an individual may use a social networking site.

In the Foundations of Web Science Module there was a sociology lecture focused on this area entitled: ‘Social Structures.’ Furthermore, there was also a politics lecture that centred on the concept of privacy on the Web and possible concealment of identity. Therefore, it would be very appealing to examine how both the sociological and political views on the Web in regards to identity are similar and compare these disciplines’ methodologies.

Intial Research Areas:

  • Does the potential anonymity the Web affords offer an opportunity for individuals to express their real-selves? Or can it be used for exaggeration – such as, individuals portraying themselves as how they would like to act in the physical world, and over the top aggressive behaviour (‘flaming.’)
  • Do individuals have a separate online identity? Is an individual’s identity online a reflection of their real-self, or an exaggeration?
  • ‘Gender-Switching’
  • How has the Web impacted on our identity? Does the way identity is viewed differ from before the Web?
  • How does the ability to create anonymous identities and allow people to pretend to be other real-world identities create new issues such as cyber-stalking and online defamation?
  • Can anonymity allow individuals a better way to express their real beliefs about Government and policy?

Preliminary Sociology Research:

What is Sociology?

http://www.soton.ac.uk/socsci/sociology/study/ug/degree.html

University of Southampton: BSc Sociology – The Modules

http://www.southampton.ac.uk/socsci/sociology/study/ug/socstruct.html

A Breakdown of the Available Modules

http://www.southampton.ac.uk/socsci/sociology/study/ug/modules.html#traditions

Current Reading:

Green, E. and Adam, A, ‘Virtual Gender: Technology, Consumption and Identity,’ (Routledge, London, 2001)

This book contains interesting studies in regards to ‘gender-switching’ on the Web. Why might a female individual wish to portray a male identity online – and vice versa?

Jones, P, ‘Introducing Social Theory,’ (Polity Press, Cambridge, 2003)

This book offers an overview of sociological theory; however, it has become apparent that there are many different schools of thought in regards to the concept of identity. For example, on one hand it is argued that ‘body-centredness’ governs the concept of identity, whereas other theorists believe that due to the modern age and ‘consumer culture,’ material belongings are now used in its expression.

Other Reading:

Sassen, S, ‘A Sociology of Globalization,’ (Norton & Company, London, 2007)

Nunes, M, ‘Cyberspaces of Everyday Life,’ (University of Minnesota Press, London, 2006)

Lull, J, (Eds.,) ‘Culture in the Communication Age,’ (Routledge, London, 2001)

Written by Laura German on February 19th, 2010

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Brief: communities online and offline   no comments

Posted at 5:11 pm in Psychology,Sociology

Two disciplines chosen: sociology and psychology.
Title: Looking inside online social networks.

I intend to undertake a period of interdisciplinary study into the social structures, both past and present, on the Internet, with particular focus on communities existing on the Web. I intend to present ideas as to why unique groups and large online communities have formed, by bringing together knowledge from two areas, chiefly sociology and psychology.
The groups that form online can have unique creative outputs – such as Wikipedia or Open Source Software, and I would like to look at how disciplines such as sociology and psychology could offer insight into online group formation and group dynamics. The discipline of sociology will provide grounding in human society, and social activity, and psychology will help make sense of individual motivations for engaging in group activities.

Our knowledge of collective consciousness, the shared beliefs and moral attitudes of society, may not translate to online society. As such the unifying forces within online communities may be different to real world counterparts, and worthy of discussion.

  • Do online communities have any effect on a society’s language or culture?
  • Identify any shared beliefs and moral attitudes that act as unifying values within online communities.
  • Parallels and differences between online and offline groups and associated activities.
  • The advantages or disadvantages of being part of an online group
  • How online social activities are made possible by identifying Internet and Web technologies that facilitate forming groups and maintaining communication between members.
  • Describe and present reasons for features of different online communities, such as network graph, how they are distributed geographically, presence of weak ties, different roles of various group members.
  • Parallels and differences between online and offline groups and associated activities.
  • The advantages or disadvantages of being part of an online group
  • How online social activities are made possible by identifying Internet and Web technologies that facilitate forming groups and maintaining communication between members.
  • Describe and present reasons for features of different online communities, such as network graph, how they are distributed geographically, presence of weak ties, different roles of various group members.
  • If there exists any hierarchies in communities or if it is a flat graph structure, and comparing this to knowledge from sociology about physical world communities.
  • The psychology of why people want to form groups online, become part of certain groups or break off from groups.
  • Do online communities have any effect on a society’s language or culture?
  • Identify any shared beliefs and moral attitudes that act as unifying values within online communities.

Resources identified as being useful for proposed work

Sociology:

  • Introductory sociology, 4th ed. Bilton, Tony
  • Sociology, 5th ed. Giddens, Anthony
  • Sociology : themes and perspectives 4th ed. Haralambos Michael.
  • Social identity and social cognition : an introduction, Abrams, Domi
  • The rise of the network society 2nd ed. Castells, Manuel.

Psychology:

  • Psychology, 2nd European ed. Carlson, Neil R
  • Psychology: the science of mind and behaviour, 5th ed. Gross, Richa
  • Introduction to social psychology, 2nd ed. Lippa, Richard A

Written by cm7e09 on February 19th, 2010

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The Criminology and Economic incentives behind Cybercrimes   no comments

Posted at 11:09 pm in Criminology,Economics

The prevailing assumption of cybercrime is that it is a massive threat that could cause unimaginable chaos to society. However, this is just a virtual threat. The reality is that cybercrimes most often involve small impact bulk victimisations which can be individually insignificant but collectively significant. Most cybercriminals target the long tail of crime where they prefer to commit more crimes with less gain. An example of that would be a cybercriminal scamming 50 million people for £1.

Longtail_crime

Such a model of crime has several advantages over traditional models of crime as individually insignificant amount of losses means:
1. Victims would be less bothered about reporting the crime
2. Police less likely to get involved
3. Credit card companies less bothered

For more information, please see the presentation on “Organized Crime and the Organization of Cybercrime” given by David Wall.

The study of cybercrime requires a multidisciplinary approach as the society is affected. Economics, law, sociology, psychology and criminology are just some of the disciplines involved. It is my intention to understand cybercrimes from the economics and criminology perspective so that I can have a better understanding on why cybercrimes occur.

Economics

After reading the presentation on “How Economics and Information Security Affects Cyber Crime and What This Means in the Context of a Global Recession” given by Peter Guerra, I believe that by understanding more about the economic incentives behind cybercrime, that is, the incentives to commit crime and the incentives to protect from crime, I would gain a better understanding of the rationale behind cybercrimes and whether critical points can be identified using economic theories.

The economic books which I’m proposing to read are:

  1. Microeconomics: Principles and analysis by F.A. Cowell
  2. Economics (6th Ed) by J. Sloman

Criminology

Criminology is the study of crimes and by studying criminology, I’m looking to develop an understanding on the theories in criminology and an imaginative mind on crimes so that not only I can understand why crimes occur but can also anticipate when and where crime is likely to occur. There are three textbooks I’ve found which are relevant:

  1. Criminology: The Basics by Sandra Walklate
  2. The Oxford Handbook of Criminology by Mike Maguire, Rod Morgan, and Robert Reiner
  3. Cybercrime: The Transformation of Crime in the Information Age by David S. Wall
  4. Handbook of Internet Crime by Yvonne Jewkes and Majid Yar


Written by my2e09 on February 17th, 2010

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Independent Disciplinary Review   no comments

Posted at 4:10 pm in Psychology,Sociology

The Introduction

Trust is hugely important. In our everyday lives we put a  huge amount of trust in other people as we simply cannot do all of the things that we have to do to be able to get by. We depend on doctors to help us out with medical issues because we do not know everything about medicine to be able to treat ourselves; we put our trust in them. The same happens in the case of teaching, our finances and basically everything that we do. As we now begin to spend more and more of our time online; from shopping to socialising with friends to the rest, the trust that we have in the physical world now has to move with us into the virtual one.

In the real world we can however at least see the person we are interacting with and whilst we put our trust in that person who claims to be a gas inspector and let them into our house on the basis of no more than a badge, we have a security blanket in place in that we are at least there to monitor. In the online world however  you cannot see that person and so trust takes on a different perception. What drives the trust that we put in others when online is really interesting and something that I am going to be examining from sociological and psychological points of view.

Sociology is the study of society; refinement of the body of knowledge in respect of human activity. Psychology by contract looks at the human and his mental functions and operations. The two really work well with one another and complement one another as one hand you have the stud of the individual and his perceptions and what drive him and then subsequently an examination of society as a whole and what drives it.

The core texts in the disciplines will allow me to understand how the two view the issue of trust and in turn allow me to explore how these relate to the Web; why we adopt the notions that we do in respect of trusting people online as an individual and as a society.

References

Sociology

  • ‘Introductory Sociology’ – Bilton, Bonnett, Jones, Lawson, Skinner, Stanworth & Webster
  • ‘Thinking Sociologically’ – Bauman
  • ‘A New Introduction to Sociology’ – O’Donnell.
  • ‘An Introduction to Political Sociology’ – Rush

Psychology

  • ‘Fundamentals of Human Neuropsychology’ – Kolb & Whishaw
  • ‘ Psychology: The Science of the Mind and Behaviour’ – Gross
  • ‘Psychology: An Introduction’ – Hayes & Orrell

Written by shrk106 on February 17th, 2010