Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Piling On

Another piece on whether Wikipedia can be trusted, this one from the Guardian.

Monday, October 24, 2005

"Wikipedia Challenge"

I've been reading various blog & discussion group postings about the "Wikipedia challenge," the idea being that you post some blatantly false information in some entry and see how long it takes for someone to correct it, with points awarded according to how obvious the error is and how prominent the subject. There's a nice discussion of the game at this Websnark post, which shows how the challenge underscores both the strengths and weaknesses of the open-sourceapproach.

Final Paper

This was my write-up for the final paper topic:

The web allows businesses and commercial entities to interact with kids/young adults in new ways, often intentionally blurring the boundaries between content and advertising. Their goals are to engage kids, build brand awareness and loyalty, and sell products. How do these commercial entities mediate their online presence in order to attract children and teens? In what ways does commercial intent bias information presented to kids? What challenges do these websites pose to determining authority? How does the web differ from other forms of media in this regard, and in what ways is it similar?

My project will present several case studies of corporate/commercial websites targeted at kids or teens, and the methods they employ. I would be particularly interested in sites that target teenage girls, and the ways media on the web is similar or different from other forms of media targeted at young women.

This is a good example of the kinds of sites I am thinking about: Proctor & Gamble's site targetted at early teen girls.

Any feedback or thoughts are definitely appreciated in helping me refine the idea a bit. I'm working on some questions to help target it for the quality angle.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Final Paper Topic

As you know from class last week, my final paper topic was a bit broad so I've decided to rethink it completely. What I've come up with is this:

My final paper will discuss the new practice of inline advertising hyperlinks, the reaction that people have had towards it and its potential effect on the quality of the content in which it appears.

The main company who provides this service is called IntelliTXT. Here is a page that uses this new advertising technique (the words underlined in double green are the ads). Here is a blog post by John Battelle discussing this technique.

What do you think of this topic? Feedback would be appreciated!

Friday, October 21, 2005


Here is a link of a webpage that makes fun of Wikipedia. The articles about Norway were very funny:-)


Wednesday, October 19, 2005


Jay Rosen's Pressthink blog has an interesting post on objectivity in journalism, with comments from Andrew Heyward, head of CBS news and a retreat from Walter Cronkite's famous claim "That's the way it is".

On the same topic, you might look at Wikipedia's "official policy" on NPOV (Neutral Point of View).

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Wikipedia founder admits to serious quality problems

Friday, October 14, 2005

Diplomatics & Forgery in contemporary politics

Juan Cole, who blogs on topics related to Iraq, does some Mabillon-esque diplomatics on the letter purported to have been sent by Zawahiri (al-Qaeda's number two man) to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq.

While we are at it, on the day Karl Rove testifies (again) before a grand jury, we might remember that both Palmgate (wholly) and the argument for war in Iraq (partially) have roots in what was by some accounts an embarassingly badly forgery, the "Yellow Cake" memo, which was confirmed by the recently eNobled Mohamed ElBaradei. This is the Wikipedia piece on the topic, whose quality we may be in a position to judge next week. And this a newspaper article on the problems in the documents.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Newspapers and encyclopedias

I am trying to establish connections between last week's class and the readings this week. And am quite amazed by how similar the evolution of newspapers and dictionaries/encyclopedias has been- the initial confusion regd. form/content, the belief that these documents must contain objective and 'correct' information and the suspicion attached to linking the documents with commercial houses. What was different (and this almost certainly has to do with the nature of the document) was the acceptance of subjectivity in newspaper journalism with time. I get a sense from the readings (and even otherwise), that the popular perception of encyclopedias/dictionaries retains the 'objectivity' and 'correctness' focus to a much greater degree than it does for newspapers.

So, the question is, does this influence the newspaper-blog and the dictionary/encyclo-wikipedia relationships and make them different ? i.e. Does newspaper journalism's acceptance of subjectivity affect the authority/acceptability/importance of blogs? Does the perception of dictionaries/encyclopedias as repositories of 'objective' knowledge undermine the acceptance of wikis (with their many unknown contributors) as authoritative sources ? And if it does not, how not? (In fact, this is probably the more interesting question!)

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Recursive problem

Here's another attempt to rate and categorise blogs. The problem now, I guess, is to figure out which of these rating sites can be trusted !

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

New & traditional media

I Want Media has an interview today with John Battelle, co-founder of Wired and author of a new book on Google, in which he discusses the future of conventional print news media in the context of new-media news sources.

Monday, October 03, 2005


There were many short readings this week which tackled the topic of blogging from different angles. Rather than enumerate all the perspectives, I’m going to address one theme that popped out at me, the role of blogs in the future.

Most authors, some more zealous than others, agree that blogs will grow to play an important role in media. Andrew Sulivan refers to blogs as a “…publishing revolution more profound than anything since the printing press.” He envisions a time when authors will bypass the traditional publication chain. James Fallows also foresees changes in the chain of publication, predicting devastation to publishers similar to Napster's effect on the music industry.

A more tempered view is articulated by Jay Rossen and Peter Daou. They both examine blogs in context to understand the potential of the medium. For Rossen the context is journalism, as he contemplates the nature of journalism and the conditions necessary for its existence. Daou, on the other hand, maps out the dynamics between the blogs, media, and political establishment. I find something compelling about both of these perspectives. They don’t suggest blogs will push out the traditional media. Instead they examine the potential blogs in a world with traditional media.

I was most intrigued by Daou’s article. His analysis of political objectives was fun to read despite the lack of political science in my background. In addition to amusement, I found the idea of the triangle formed between blogs, media, and the political establishment a powerful one. It’s an idea that attempts to reconcile events where the blogs have been attributed with great influence and situations where the blogs have been powerless. The analysis of this history has often been focused on blogs as if they exist in a vacuum. In contrast, Daou examines the relationships with media and politics that facilitate the success or failure of the blogs. In a sense, I think Dauo is implying the game hasn’t changed (revolutionized), but there is a new player that will rebalance the way the game is played.

This notion of the triangle is particular relevant to our assignment dealing with CNN coverage of the blogs.