Thursday, April 12, 2007

Net neutrality isn't so neutral.

I consider the internet to be one of the greatest inventions of the 20th century. I love how it brings me infinite amounts of information at blazing speeds wherever I am. The internet is a major part of my life and I think a large majority of people would agree that it contributes a significant part to their lives as well. Upon learning about the topic (net neutrality) for our final blog, I had no idea what that was. I did some research and I now have a greater understanding of what net neutrality is, and what the arguments surrounding it are.

It took me a while to get a grasp on what net neutrality is and Information Week sympathizes with my frustrations to find a solid definition. “Net neutrality is so contentious that many people debating it cannot even agree on a definition” (Jones, 2007). However, after reading various articles I have come to the conclusion that net neutrality is an internet where all websites are considered equal, and people can access content without any higher entity interfering. As we all know from this class, the internet we use today allows information to move in data packets with almost no regard for what type of information or applications they contain or who created them. The debate over net neutrality is should the internet remain the way it is today where people can roam free and access any website they wish, or, have the internet regulated by major corporations for a fee.

Proponents or internet-based companies for net neutrality such as Google and Yahoo!, want the internet to stay neutral. People access their information and content without any obstacles. Their success comes largely from the current function of the internet and the infrastructure (or pipes) put down by companies (opponents) like AT&T, Verizon Communications, Time Warner and Comcast. If net neutrality didn’t exist, these big businesses would have control over what websites are faster and which have more priority over others. A website that is irrelevant to lets say Time Warner or doesn’t portray them in a good light can be very slow to access or even banned. Many people think of this as discrimination or a violation of freedom of speech. I tend to agree with that. If the internet is divided up, I may not be able to read someone’s opinion about the next election because a certain big name company happens to believe in an opposing political arena.

Internet-based companies like, Google, and Yahoo! are said to consume a lot of bandwidth from the other aforementioned companies (opponents) for no cost. The opponents of net neutrality say that “Companies that refuse to pay might find their content moving at slower speeds over the pipeline than the content of those companies that do pay” (WSJ, 2006). This would ultimately hurt the internet-based companies and more specifically the public. Proponents are fighting hard everyday to protect their companies and their consumers.

The opponents want control over the internet. They pay for the foundation of the internet so they want to structure it as they see fit. This means no government regulation as well. The CEO of AT&T feels that it is totally unfair that other small company’s profit off of their expenditures. Edward Whitacre stated, “We and the cable companies have made an investment, and for a Google or Yahoo or Vonage or anybody to expect to use these pipes free is nuts.” After hearing many of the big company’s’ arguments one could get a sense that they are just looking to make more of a profit for themselves.

I feel the internet should stay the way it is today. I am for net neutrality. I have no problems with it and I enjoy being able to access any website at a fast rate. One of the biggest things about the internet is that it allows people to share their information and opinions. If a big company or opponent of net neutrality blocks that because it doesn’t favor them I would be extremely upset. I know that nothing in the world is free, but to have to pay for internet access that doesn’t even live up to your expectations is absurd. I know websites aren’t people, but like people, websites should not be discriminated or segregated against because they all contain the thoughts, facts and opinions of real people.


Network neutrality. (2007, April 11). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 22:46, April 12, 2007, from

Jones, K. C. (2007, March 16). Retrieved April 12, 2007, from

Efrati, Amir. (September, 2006). The Wall Street Journal: A Battle for Control of the Web. Retrieved April 12, 2007, from

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Time to Conquer the Virtual Economy!

Online gaming is one of the fastest and most popular growing phenomena’s to hit the internet. There are many aspects to it and people find them enticing…and even addicting. Online games allow people to escape “reality” and enter a world that is unlike any other. People enter online gaming communities and interact with people that they will most likely never meet. However, the relationships formed online can grow very strong and allow for some truly fun and engaging experiences to take place. This is often considered a major factor for why people become so addicted. Some gamers enjoy the thrill of slicing a deadly orc with their newly acquired sword while others like to test their skills against other people from around the world. But perhaps one area of online gaming that is interesting to look at is “virtual” economies.

According to, virtual economies are “an emergent economy existing in a virtual persistent world, usually in the context of an Internet game.” With the rise of massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) like World of Warcraft and Second Life, millions of people are beginning to utilize the games for more than they were originally intended for. Instead of killing night elves and resurrecting fallen comrades, people are logging on to seek monetary gain. How can people earn money through a game you might ask? Well the answer is quite simple. and pretty much any website that accepts a credit card allow people to exchange real money for virtual goods such as gold, weapons and high-leveled characters. These purchases can give players an edge over those who do not buy virtual goods, and many consider that unfair. World of Warcraft discourages this kind of activity because it’s essentially cheating your way to the top but Second Life actually encourages it because it’s designed to emulate real life but in the virtual world. In Second Life, fake money earned in the game called Lindens can actually be traded for real US dollars. That’s the ultimate goal of most people who play it.

The term, "closed" virtual economy is used for MMORGs like WoW whereas the term, "open" virtual economy is used for simulation games like Second Life. The economy designed for World of Warcraft was built to stay in it (closed). Players are supposed to find their own gold on their own time and use that to buy weapons and other items. It defeats the purpose of the game to go on eBay and buy everything you need. People spend hours everyday trying to get what someone else bought in one minute online. Now you may ask, well that complaining person could do the same. Their response could vary from they don’t have the money to do that, or they don’t want to because that “kills” the whole point of the game. As mentioned above, people play online games to explore and escape to another world. You can’t buy experiences or online relationships. Selling virtual items online does hurt the company developers financially. WoW is a game with a monthly fee, so if people buy everything in one shot, Blizzard (games’ creator) loses out on all those months of fees.

As for Second Life, the economy is open to everyone. People can purchase land from the developers for real US dollars. After this purchase they can build up their virtual world even more and earn a great deal of Linden Dollars (the in-game currency). Finally they can exchange these Linden dollars for more US dollars at an online market. I think this economy is excellent for people who want to learn about business and earn real money in a way that was never possible before. “One user claimed last November that her Second Life property business has made her a real-world millionaire” (Giles 2007). That’s absolutely incredible and it’s all possible because of online gaming. In addition to that, it creates a lot of buzz and encourages other people to sign up in hopes of earning some kind of profit.

Online gaming is changing the way people utilize the internet and it provides an outlet for the stresses of daily life. It is creating such an impact on today’s society that it has even created a new type on economic system; the virtual economy. Unlike other real life economies, people can choose if they want to engage in the virtual economy. Even more interesting is the fact that they can participate in a virtual economy for possible monetary gain.


Virtual economy. (2007, March 29). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 23:04, April 5, 2007, from

Giles, Jim. (2007). Life’s a game. Retrieved April 4, 2007, from

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Newspaper print > My fingertips

There are many ways to display information to the public in today’s society. There is television, newspapers, radio, the internet and much more. Two forms of media that I will be exploring in this blog are newspapers and the internet. Many people would perceive the two to be very similar (and there are indeed similarities), but there are actually quite a few differences. A current event that has received significant media attention is the battle over Iraq spending. I read about this topic in the newspaper, USA Today, and on the web at

The first noticeable difference between the two media is that newspapers are obviously made of paper. I have not picked up a newspaper and read it in years. This assignment has reminded me of why that is. When searching for an article to write about I immediately became frustrated with how annoying it was to look through a huge mass of bulky, awkward papers. Not only that but I soon found that dirty, dark, ink creeping up on my fingertips. That has been a pet peeve of mine ever since I was a child. Even though I already love the function of the internet, I now have a new found appreciation for it in that it allows for easy, convenient deliverance of information. Now that the obvious differences are set aside, I can compare the actual articles at hand.

To help give you an idea of what the articles are about, they basically talk about the clash of ideas between the President and the Democrats regarding troop withdrawal and spending for the war. After reading the USA Today article, I noticed they presented a number of facts and quotes. The author of the article pretty much told us ‘how it was’. Regarding the online article, they also presented its audience with facts and quotes but as I was reading the article, I felt like I was a reading a blog too. The author raised questions and referenced inside jokes to loyal readers, such as, “Could be case for Law & Order......Okay, deal, we still stop making Law & Order jokes from now on whenever we mention.....possible presidential candidate Fred Thompson” ( This kind of writing helps readers to connect with the author, as well as People will want to come back to the website more often.

There was also a lot of hyperlinking on the TIME article. Newspapers can’t reference to other sources like that. When it comes to images, USA Today actually had some whereas the TIME article had none. The newspaper had a color image on the front page (initially captured my attention) and a black and white photo by the actual article. Now, while we all know that the internet article could have just as easily had images by its side, it’s interesting to wonder why it did not. Perhaps there is no need for an image because articles online are not trying to attract the attention of others. When it comes to the internet, people generally decide what information they want to look up. As for a newspaper, newspaper companies want to capture other peoples’ attention so they can buy the paper. What better way to catch my eye than a flashy image?

Journalists have an abundance of tools at their disposal in which to display their information. One of the most popular tools in their ‘toolkit’ would be the world wide web as stated by Dan Gillmor. “The Web, as it grew up in the 1990s, was a powerful publishing system that journalists of all kinds used to great effect, and still do” (Gillmor 27). It is often a personal preference for people to decide which media they use to receive new information, but I would say a large majority of them use the internet. Its ease of use and accessibility to everyone is very appealing and it is very interesting to see the evolution of the internet coincide with the demanding needs of journalists all over the world.


Gillmor, Dan. (2004). We the media: Grassroots Journalism By the People, For the People. Retrieved March 29, 2007 from

Yeomans, Matthew. (2007). Bush Challenges Democratic Credibility on Iraq. Retrieved March 29, 2007 from

Jackson, David. (2007). USA Today: Bush, Dems trade barbs over bills. Retrieved March 29, 2007 from USA Today.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Internet and Politics

Politics are a crucial part of life and they affect the lives of everybody in the world. There are different types of political parties and beliefs, but perhaps what is most interesting is, how people involve themselves with politics as history progresses. Now that we are in an age where the internet is an integral part of life, people have incorporated politics into its ever-growing web. There is a plethora of information regarding politics online. People involve themselves with the political system now in many ways…be it blogs, forums or online chats. Communication technologies such as these enable people to share their thoughts with the rest of the world. Those who never thought much of politics or had any care about them are finding themselves surrounded by it once they log on to the internet. When a person logs onto a website like, political videos can often be seen in the most popular videos of the day section. Furthermore, when they click on that video, they will see a barrage of comments discussing the political topic at hand. These comments can be, and often are offensive and controversial to others. The point of these comments however, is to allow people to engage in politics. It is easier now than ever before because the internet is so accessible to everyone.

The following is an example of how people express their thoughts (in this case, political) through blogging. Michael Rebmann is a graduate from Erie Community College and he has recently set up a blog by the name of North Buffalo Journal and Review. Its URL is He is a citizen blogger, interested in Paralegal Studies. He started his blog about politics and life on March 3rd, 2007 because, after posting comments on other peoples’ blogs for some time, he decided he wanted one of his own ( His rank on technorati is 47,636. After skimming through Rebmann’s blog, one could tell that he is very opinionated about specific political issues. He has strong support for 2008 presidential candidate, Ron Paul and he cares about the local conditions in Buffalo, New York. He takes full advantage of the blogs’ features and he has many links to sites that he thinks other people may find interesting. It is all organized in a nice, coherent manner and this makes things easy for other bloggers to read and participate in. Since Rebmann has only recently made a new blog, he does not have a huge following of bloggers yet. However, as time passes by and more people link to his blog, his online reputation will go up and consequently attract more readers. Once this occurs he can further engage in political discussion in this particular online community.

A common question that people ask today is “how are blogs affecting local politics?” I would have to say that blogs are affecting local politics tremendously. It is so easy to write an article online and advertise it to the masses. Look how easy it was for me to find Michael Rebmann’s article online and learn about his political beliefs. He is trying to educate others about Congressman Ron Paul and encourage them to vote for him in the next presidential election. The same can apply for local politicians. Alinta Thornton states, “One of the most distinctive features of the Internet as a medium is its interactivity” (Thornton 37). One could argue that people are as interactive online as they are in real life. This increased interaction encourages others to share their beliefs. When people learn about other people’s opinions they can either agree or disagree with them. In the political world an agreement could mean another vote for a potential candidate.

Politics and the internet today essentially go hand in hand. The amount of information shared and the interaction among people online is almost overwhelming. However, it is a step closer towards educating the world about other’s beliefs and ideas. In this particular case, the interaction increases political involvement and consequently affects the way in which people live their lives.


Rebmann, Michael. (2007). North Buffalo Journal and Review. Retrieved March 24, 2007, from

Thornton, Alinta. (October, 2002). Does Internet Create Democracy. Retrieved March 24, 2007, from

Sunday, March 18, 2007

WOW. What an online community...

World of Warcraft is perhaps the world’s largest online, gaming community ever. It has grown rapidly over the years and its ‘population’ is even the size of small countries, like Denmark. World of Warcraft or WOW as commonly phrased is completely dependent on the internet. Without an internet connection, you cannot play the game, or in other words, you cannot become a part of that online community. This is one reason in particular why this online community differs from an offline community. When it comes to the internet, different rules and methods of communication come into play. Anonymous users cause players to be cautious of whom they interact and trade items with. Security is a major concern for players. WOW is an extremely time consuming game, and players do not want their precious accounts hacked into. Finally, communication. Since people cannot physically see who you are and how you behave, it is your responsibility to portray yourself in a way that will improve your reputation to others. People will trust you this way and find you to be a valuable asset in the game.

I am a member of the World of Warcraft community because I interact online with other people from around the world, but more importantly and personally, I am a member of a guild with my close friends from home. According to Wikipedia a guild is, a group of players who regularly play together in a particular (or various different) multiplayer games. These range from groups of a few friends to 1000-person organizations, with a broad range of structures, goals and members. Internet communication technology allows us to talk with one another and carry on our goals. It also strengthens our social ties within the group.

When my friends and I talk online we basically use AIM and the chat provided to us by the game itself. AIM is used primarily to make plans and designate a time when our guild should meet. It is fast, easy and convenient for us to use. Once we are all logged into WOW, we use the chat functions that naturally are designed with the game. Just like AIM, we have all grown accustomed to this function and we use it as though it were second nature. As discussed in my last blog, we all use pseudonyms to distinguish ourselves. Pseudonyms are especially important in online communities because they give others a sense of who we are, or how we want others to think we are. Jan Fernback and Brad Thompson state, “The structural process that is associated with community is communication. Without communication there can be no action to organize social relations. The intimate nature of this relationship is best illustrated in the words community and communications.” To sum this up, community and communication go hand in hand. My guild would not function if I was not able to organize times for my friends and I to meet and carry out its necessary functions. It is only when our meetings and activities are successful that our social friendships can grow. If we do not have a mutual agreement to complete a task then our social relationships and guild will not grow. A comparative example would be a company trying to expand. In order for that company to grow and be prosperous everyone in it must work together and communicate their thoughts and ideas. If there are people that are not being heard or are not contributing to the company, the company’s desire to expand will fail because there is a discrepancy between communication and completing the desired action.

Online communities vary from offline communities because of the different host of rules that accompany the internet. The people you interact with are people you will most likely never see in your life. However, through the use of Internet communication technology, it is important to build an online reputation that is positive so that other people in the online community can regard you as a trustworthy source. This helps to contribute to a positive online experience.


Guild. (2007, March 15). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 00:08, March 18, 2007, from

Fernback, J and Brad Thompson. (1995). Virtual Communities: Abort, Retry, Failure? Retrieved March 18, 2007, from

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

"Oh noez, it's da Predator!1"

People always told me that when I go to college, I can be anyone I want to be because no one knows who I am. One can argue that this statement is true, but I can update this phrase to an even truer statement. “People always told me that when I log onto the internet, I can be anyone I want to be over and over and over again.” There are many reasons for this but perhaps the best reason is because no can physically see who I am. Judith Donath sums it up perfectly by stating, “The virtual world is different. It is composed of information rather than matter” (1996). When I am on the internet I am protected by a barrier (in this case a screen) that simply displays infinite amounts of information. It can often be a difficult task to sort out what, or who, is real and fake.

Everyone who uses the internet has an online identity. According to John Suler, the internet allows:

“people to present themselves in a variety of different ways. You can alter your style of being just slightly or indulge in wild experiments with your identity by changing your age, history, personality, physical appearance, even your gender. The username you choose, the details you do or don't indicate about yourself, the information presented on your personal web page, the persona or avatar you assume in an online community - all are important aspects of how people manage their identity in cyberspace” (Suler, 2002).

Like Suler suggests, the identities I use vary depending on which online community I participate in. I generally use two identities online. I use one for online gaming and one for more formal online communities such as e-mail, blogs and instant messaging. When I play games online I like to use an alias such as “ThePredator” This originates from the Predator movies. Ever since I saw those movies I fell in love with that creature…it was the coolest looking killer alien I had ever seen. He was ruthless, stealthy and cunning, all attributes that an online gamer should have. Not to mention it’s a cool name to have people recognize you as. It’s simple and secretive as well. People simply know me as “ThePredator” and that creates a mysterious vibe. There is no need to reveal any personal information about myself in online games because I am only there to play and have a fun time. I have noticed that almost no one who plays online games talk to each as if they would in real life. This is most likely due to the freedom and ambiguity present. Online games have their own language, such as ‘noob’ and ‘pwned’ which further separate reality and virtual reality, and they don’t encourage people to interact on a personal level either.

When it comes to communities where I know I have to interact with ‘supposedly’ real people or friends and family I use an identity that they can relate to. In these cases I use a simple ID such as “JaredK511.” This too is simple and easy to call me as, but it is much more personal. I am revealing my true first name and last initial, as well as my birth date. I believe it shows that I am not trying to pull any ‘funny business’. I usually include a profile with this ID in order to explain a little more about who I truly am as well. I do this so I can establish a better reputation to those whom it may concern.

Just like with everything else in the world, devious activity can be found with even online identity. Perhaps someone wanted the name “ThePredator” but could not have it because I already own it. Well there are ways that that person could hack into my account, change the password and steal my ‘name’. I am not that tech savvy so I have found an example that explains how people could hack into your account. According to the TWL (TeamWarefare League) forums, “The primary way these [accounts] are being stolen is by someone contacting the person on MSN (easily found on a high honor account by looking at their AAO Tracker profile) and impersonating a female. "She" then sends a picture of "herself" and offers to send you more. When you say yes "she" sends a file called "Christina's_Gallery_2003" that contains the "MultiDropper-FD" Trojan in it” (2004). Something as simple as that could really ruin a gamers’ experience. A lot of times though people are gullible and fall for certain traps like the one mentioned above. That is why it is always important to read things carefully and think critically about what it is you’re being prompted to do. There is clearly no way to prevent people from changing who they are online, but with some caution and knowledge, people can navigate the digital world safely and problem free.


Donath, J. (1996). Identity and Deception in the Virtual Community. Retrieved February 20, 2007, from

Suler, J. (2002). Identity Management in Cyberspace. Retrieved February 20, 2007, from

TWL Forums. (2004). TWL community based gaming. Retrieved February 20, 2007, from

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

"Don't come in! I'm shopping online!"

“Get the hell out of my room!” This is something I often hear from my brother when I venture into his room. This statement implies that he does not want to be bothered and he most likely wants something that everyone else in the world wants…privacy. However, in this day and age privacy is something that is dwindling right in front of our very eyes. According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, privacy is “the quality or state of being apart from company or observation.” This is definitely a plausible explanation but I feel privacy is something more. People want privacy because it is a natural function of being a human. It’s hard to describe, but it is a certain feeling we want when we begin to feel uncomfortable. It can be considered a desire to achieve a preferred state of balance. But what is a person to do when the issue of privacy is moved from the real world to the digital world?

The internet plays host to a number of devices that can record your every move. Internet privacy can be compromised through cookies, browsing profiles, IP addresses, ISP’s, and data logging (Wikipedia 2007). Rather than discuss each one of these, it is important to understand that these internet related entities can severely (or even totally eliminate) your privacy online. When I say online privacy, I mean online shopping, website history, e-mail, and overall online habits. Computer hackers and many major corporations can obtain your valuable information and use it to their advantage. It is sad and frustrating, but it is a reality. Unfortunately people do not do much to prevent such occurrences from happening. states, “Only a tiny fraction of Americans – 7 percent, according to a recent survey by The Ponemon Institute – change any behaviors in an effort to preserve their privacy.” (Sullivan, 2006). It’s scary to know that so many Americans neglect to protect their personal privacy.

I, on the other hand am not among the remaining 93 percent. I know I cannot fully protect myself on the internet if I want to fully use it to its potential, but I do take certain measures in order to protect my personal information. I never shop online (I much prefer to buy things in person where I can physically see the product), I always do work on secure connections, I use safer web browsers such as Firefox to help protect against malicious spyware, and I refrain from giving out personal information wherever I can. It’s not much, but it is something that the everyday person doesn’t do. However I am not some paranoid person who always suspects that someone is out to get me. Like everyone else, I still use the internet as though it were a natural part of my life. Fortunately, with my safe internet habits always in mid, I have never been in a scenario where my internet privacy has been treaded on. People say the best offense is a good defense. I happen to agree with this and avoiding disastrous situations has thus far been a success. Many of my friends and family have a similar state of mind so I do not know how they would react if they had an invasion on their privacy. I would imagine they would fight against the actions though, as I know I would. The best thing a person can do regarding anything in life is to educate themselves. Knowledge gives people the power to do anything. adds that, “People can't make intelligent (privacy) choices” (Acquisti, 2006). People would be able to make intelligent (privacy) choices easily, if only they knew more about how the internet works.


Internet privacy. (2007, February 14). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 23:26, February 14, 2007, from

Sullivan, B. (2006, October 17). MSNBC. Retrieved February 14, 2007, from

Merriam-Webster Online. (2007, February 14). Retrieved February 14, 2007, from