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- 1) When looking at the chronology of the development of the Internet, which development do you believe to be the most important? Why?
- I think that the most important development was probably the development of Secure Socket Layers (What is SSL). The SSL protocol essentially made it possible for e-banking and e-commerce to become what it is today. While the Internet would certainly have still had its uses and been popular, I feel like businesses wanting more functionality and possibilities and therefore investing their money into the development of the Internet was one of the main reasons that it’s so popular today. By being able to make money online, and in some cases do it easier and more broadly than real world businesses, these businesses then invested their own time and money into trying to draw customers online as well.
- 2) In terms of online users, are the genders equally represented? How about for minorities? What types of resources are available online, specifically for men? How valuable to you believe these resources are? What types of resources are available online, specifically for women? How valuable to you believe these resources are? Are there resources available to specific ethnicities?
- I believe the genders and minorities are rather equally represented, especially nowadays. With smartphones being almost universal, at least in developing countries, and computers and tablets becoming less and less expensive as well as many areas offering free Wi-Fi, the barriers between people and the Internet are becoming lower and lower. Recognizing this, business have created websites that cater to all sorts of different people. Perhaps one of the most known websites “specifically for men” is “The Art of Manliness.” This website offers a blog, podcast, and more that give advice and information that they think that men need to hear. While much of the content is aimed towards being humour, there is also information on medical issues (Reynolds). For women, Forbes actually runs an article yearly with the “100 best Websites for Women.” These vary from informative blogs to online communities intended to help women with things like financial health or job hunting. Many of these websites have information that could be used for women. There are definitely also resources available for minorities as well, such as the NAACP’s website to help coloured people.
- 3) If you know of any good web sites with resources for men, please share the URLs and tell us why you feel the site is of value to men. If you know of any good web sites with resources for women, please share the URLs and tell us why you feel the site is of value to women.
- I feel like these kind of websites don’t really exist, especially considering my research on the next question about the accuracy of websites. While I think that there are websites that contain resources that are valuable for women, such as Cosmopolitan (www.cosmopolitan.com), they suffer from two problems: They’re a business driven by sales and advertisement, meaning they’re more likely to sacrifice accuracy for making advertised products look good and sell subscriptions, and the majority of their content is for entertainment purposes, very subjective, and I can’t consider it a “resource.” Similarly, website for men such as The Art of Manliness (www.artofmanliness.com) also suffer from the same problems.
- There are certainly plenty of websites with helpful resources for people, but I feel like I find that these websites are not set up as gender specific because either they cover information for both genders, or the information is universally helpful.
- 4) How beneficial are health and medical web sites? How reliable is the information?
- It is difficult to say how beneficial health and medical web sites are. While often it is possible to find information that can at least be topical and informative, it seems like often you hear stories of people finding a diagnosis online based on small symptoms that is clearly above and beyond what they have and trying to override their doctor. Since symptoms really can have different causes, it is difficult and unrealistic for someone untrained to be able to diagnose themselves based on limited information. In terms of reliability, it also depends. In a study on the idea of googling information related to “Safe Infant Sleep Recommendations,” within the first 100 websites of 13 different related searches, only 43.5% had accurate recommendations (Rehman). That’s not particularly accurate, however by following guidelines provided by the National Institute of Health it is probably easier to increase this. However, it is likely many people will not take the time to check the reliability of the website.
- 5) The Internet has been championed as inherently democratic. Do you agree? Are there reasons why this theory is flawed? Why?
- I agree that it is democratic in principle, as really the Internet is not generally something that is necessary. Nothing on the Internet absolutely has to be used for daily life, which means that the continued use of the Internet and websites on it is based on the willingness of people to use it. Therefore, if people don’t like the direction that a website is going, they can choose not to use it. I believe this can be seen from the fall of Myspace and the rise of Facebook. At the time that Myspace started to decline, user profiles were obscenely customizable and it seemed the majority were absolutely ridiculous and full of garish images that at the time took forever to load. In addition, profiles didn’t necessarily offer any real personal information nor was it encouraged. Facebook offered a non-customizable layout that was sleek and more personal. A want for something different made one company rise and another let go of its user base.
- However, at the same time, in the end, the large decisions are made by the businesses. Because of its popularity, many people feel as though they have no choice but to use Facebook. There is controversy over the privacy policies of Facebook and people complain, but continue to use it. Similarly, improvements on the technology of the Internet are generally motivated by business decisions rather than a democratic influence of Internet users.
- 6) Provide the URL of at least two sites that discuss the impact of the Internet on any one of the concepts discussed this week and provide a brief review of the information contained there. Did you learn anything new? Were you surprised by any of the information presented on the site?
- While looking for websites to do with medical information I came across this post, and I thought the information contained within it was really interesting. The post talks about a study where the researches were checking to see how accurate information found on the web about sleep safety in infants is, according to guidelines established by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Overall they found that only 43.5% of 1300 websites viewed from their searches were correct and followed the guidelines. What was most interesting for me was that even though they found government websites and organizational websites had the highest accuracy, it was still only approximately 80% and 70% correct. I would definitely have thought they would be much higher! Similarly they found that product review retail websites were at 8.5% accuracy, and while I’m not surprised it was low, that is much lower than I would have thought.
- This website discusses the representation of women in digital media, with the findings that they’re underrepresented. They checked a few online news sites and some other studies and found that the amount of women that wrote news stories and bylines was much lower than men. What I found that was interesting was that one study found that women wrote 33 percent of the articles in the sites they were looking at, but it was compared to 20 percent in traditional media. I was also surprised that this number was so low, but it wasn’t really a number I had given much thought about.
- Rehman, J. (August 2, 2012). Accuracy of Medical Information on the Internet. Retrieved March 16, 2016 from http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/accuracy-of-medical-information-on-the-internet/
- What Is SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) and What Are SSL Certificates? (n.d.). Retrieved March 16, 2016, from https://www.digicert.com/ssl.htm
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