Author Archives: Paul Bond

So it goes


cc2010 Robert, from

One of the many nice things about The Internet Course is that you never know where it will go. The course description gives it broad guidance as to what it covers, but the students determine how to approach the various topics. Now we’re in the final project phase, which is entirely student driven. This has produced a number of interesting projects in the past, and this semester looks to match the standard of creativity that has been set.

One group is taking a Buzzfeed-style listicle approach to the impacts of the internet – 10 reasons why the internet ruins everything. The plan is to take both serious and sarcastic approaches to items on the list. Tuesday’s class brainstormed ideas, some of which were:

lists (nothing like starting off meta)
childhood innocence
f2f communication
attention span
hope for humanity
music industry

What fascinates me about this is how easy it is to make arguments from both sides – the internet’s impacts can be seen as both positive and negative. Take music for example. That the internet has destroyed the industry is a common refrain. although I would contend that the industry had been shooting itself in the foot long before Napster came around. The traditional recording industry and music retail outlets have taken a hit, to be sure. But there are new players in the field, and at least two of them, Apple and Google, are profiting quite nicely. The flip side to the doom and gloom that the RIAA spouts was articulated by Steve Albini recently. There has never been a better time to be a fan of music. We’re no longer at the mercy of radio and retail gatekeepers. And neither are musicians – they can take control of their careers, rather than putting them and their profits in the hands of managers and labels and producers and promoters.

Tuesday’s other group is expanding on the creation/consumption topic by doing a survey on how people contribute original content to the web. That leads to some interesting questions about what constitutes original content and the nature of creativity. Is the Pentametron’s content original? Creative? I would say yes, but I am sure some would debate me. The idea of curation as a creative act seems to be born out of the internet. The survey avoids this potential minefield by providing a definition. The survey also asks about the nature and impact of original content, and charts the responses. I would be interested to see a breakdown of types of content – text, image, audio, video, code, etc – but that may be outside the scope of their study.

Both of these projects are different, both in topic and form, from what we’ve seen in previous iterations of the course. It goes where it goes and where it ends, no one knows.

Digital ID

This week in The Internet Course we will focus on digital identity. The panel of experts has pulled together an impressive array of research, some of which is below:

I’m interested to see where the discussion will go. There is overlap with last week’s topic of privacy and openness, especially where topics of hacking and identity theft are concerned.

I don’t want to rehash trodden ground, but I was intrigued by Alec Couros’ troubles with Facebook and identity misappropriation. He’s had problems with people borrowing his image or name or both for scammy purposes, but recently Facebook decided that he himself was not authentic, in spite of the volume of data he had provided them over the years. There are services that use things like Facebook, Twitter or Google+ for login identification. In essence, Facebook becomes a virtual ID card. What are the implications of outsourcing ID verification to commercial entities? Especially in light of the terms and conditions of our relationships with them? In real life we use government, which we supposedly control, for ID cards. What can happen when we turn to commercial providers for that?

As I was looking for an image to go with this post, I found this info graphic by Fred Cavazza on Flickr:


It might be a little outdated (2006), but maybe that says something about the shifting nature of digital identity. It’s an interesting way of breaking the topic down, and of showing its breadth.

POSE and openness

In Tuesday’s class we looked at a trailer for the film Terms and Conditions May Apply. The film looks at all those end-user license agreements that are designed so end-users don’t read them. People generally don’t know what they’re agreeing to when they click the “I Accept” button, and it wouldn’t really matter if they did know, because many companies reserve the right change the terms and conditions without warning or notice.

This is problematic because people don’t know what they signing away, part of what makes it a privacy issue. It’s also a problem because people may unwittingly violate the terms, which can lead to harsh consequences. The Department of Justice has asserted that ToS violations can be prosecuted as felonies, and although Congress has made moves to address this, they haven’t seen them through. This can not only stifle but criminalize innovation.

A lot of the privacy and terms of service issues seem to be tied to what I consider closed environments, like Facebook. Access and use of our data is the toll we pay to get in. We also have the open web, and our own spaces on it, where we have more control. We can make that social with the POSSE model, pushing information from our own spaces out to other services like Twitter or Facebook. We’re experimenting with that using a platform called Known in our ds106 section.

Just as a coincidence, Tim Berners-Lee talked about data ownership yesterday in London. It sounds like he’s calling for a web that treats our personal data, which all those sites collect, as our intellectual property.

Berners-Lee argued that the burden of tracking should be moved from the typical web user to the individuals and organisations with access to our data.

That sort of flips the current situation on its head. I don’t know if it’s doable, but it’s an interesting idea.


This week in The Internet Course we’re covering privacy & openness. The readings the class came up with in the research process mostly deal with privacy and related issues: hacking, cybercrime, identity theft, anonymity and surveillance. Zuckerberg has said the people don’t care about privacy, and people prove him right every day. Yet these articles, and many others like them, also prove him wrong. Maybe people are of mixed opinion. Maybe people are un- or under-informed. Maybe people don’t think things through. Most likely it’s all of the above.

But the openness side of the equation is just as important, if not more so. So I thought I’d take a look at it.

Open can have many meanings and implications. With regards the the web and the internet, there’s open source, open standards and protocols, open architecture … Open access is an issue much discussed in my field. Openness is baked into the DNA of the internet – connectivity and interoperability require it. And the openness of the internet enables an open sharing of thoughts, ideas and information on a whole new level. What can be accomplished through humanity’s collective creativity remains to be seen, but if history is any guide it will be profoundly transformative.

I made a little Cmap of openness as seen through three articles:


The Internet Society published a position paper last year on openness and sustainability. They visualize a virtuous circle of openness, with universal benefits for everyone derived from four principles:

Open global standards for innovation
Open communications for everyone
Open for economic progress through innovation
Open and multi-stakeholder governance for inclusion


They further discussed openness as an enabler of innovation

Sir Tim Berners-Lee did not have to ask a central authority whether or not he could write a client-server hypertext system. He wrote it; others who found the possibilities interesting downloaded clients and servers and started using it.

The article recognizes that there are IP issues that need to be negotiated with regards to an open environment. We touched on that issue this past week with the Lessig video.

There are down sides to openness, however. Allowing people to say and do things anonymously lets some people get away with putting their worst sides forward. Bullying, harassment and threats are unfortunately common online.

Astra Taylor’s article discusses the hostility that women face in the online environment and in tech culture. That makes for a vicious circle, inhibiting the diversity which could counteract the hostility. In a way, that’s opposed to openness, as it pushes people out. But it’s a result of being open to certain types of speech and behavior that are less than acceptable.

The internet lets people call out that kind of misbehavior, but there can be costs to that. Real costs, in fact. In my world, libraryland, two people called out an individual for repeated and persistent sexually aggressive behavior and were hit with a defamation lawsuit as a result. But it has served to bring the issue to the attention of many who would otherwise be unaware.

IP, fair use, and the Internet Course

This week in The Internet Course we will be talking about intellectual property and fair use. There are tensions between the two which have always been there. The internet has exacerbated those tensions.

The US Copyright Office issued a circular on Copyright Basics (PDF) which discusses copyright law in detail. Fair Use is the term given to exemptions to copyright law. The Copyright Office explains these in some detail, but it’s not usually a black and white, cut and dried situation.

Our panel of Internauts this week, Desiree, Sheldon and Josiah, have collected several articles relating to our topic. Josiah’s map puts the Copyright Clause of the US Constitution at the center, which was a nice touch. I find it interesting that the law is there to promote progress, but the enforcement of it is usually to protect profits. The two are not always aligned.

Lawyer Lawrence Lessig gave a TED talk on that mis-alignment:

Lawrence Lessig: Laws that choke creativity

Choking creativity seems to be directly at odds with promoting progress. Lessig founded Creative Commons as a way of dealing with this.

The copyright issue the internet is best known for is probably piracy. GI Joe even addresses it at the top of our syllabus. I wonder how the general public’s view of piracy has changed over the last decade or so. I’d be interested to hear what the class thinks about that.

On a somewhat related note, an article in this weekend’s NY Times noted:

ABC in January started requiring people to verify that they had a cable subscription to watch its shows on Hulu. Users either didn’t have the necessary information or declined to go the extra step, it seems, because the rate of piracy for “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” a network drama, shot up 300 percent.

Does the fight against piracy, in some ways, end up encouraging it?

Welcome to the machine

This week in The Internet Course, we will be looking at how the internet works. Members of the class have started collecting and connecting readings on the topic, and we’ll be discussing them on Tuesday and Thursday.

I’m going to throw a short video into the mix. This was done by Professor Michael Wesch and his class several years ago, and it looks at both how the internet has evolved and how it works, and hints at what that means for us.

We’ve actually all been looking at how it works, or at least part of it, through setting up our blogs and domains. The Web is made up of hyperlinked documents on the internet. When we blog and tweet and link, we’re building the web – more documents, more pages, more links. When we upload Cmaps to our domains, we’re interacting with the web at the server level. We put files in folders, making path names that make URLs.

The Cmap program generates HTML pages, which is another part of how the internet works. If we look at Dalina’s map, we can see the icons that indicate links back to the original readings and links out to further information. If we look at the source code behind it (CTRL-u in Firefox), we can see all the script and code that makes the page function. Most of it is pretty confusing if you don’t know the language, but if you scroll to the bottom you can see some a href tags that point to the hyperlinked documents.

The web is only part of the internet though. Where the Wizards Stay Up Late talked about some other fundamentals, like packet switching and servers. The readings cover topics like languages, search, the cloud, apps… I’m looking forward to where this goes.

Some Cmap help

I’m posting some links to earlier posts on Cmaps, just to make them a little easier to find. I also made a menu link on The Internet Course site for posts tagged cmap. Some of the posts aren’t there because they were tagged in the plural. This is an example of why it is important for people (including myself) to remember to use consistent tags. If it’s not spelled right, it’s not there.

Cmaps as web pages links to several help pages, and tries to walk through the process of getting a map linked in a blog post. Basically:
1. Upload the map JPG, GIF, and HTML files to your server using Cpanel and File Manager.
2. In WordPress, embed the JPG file in a blog post, like you would do with any image.
3. In WordPress, set the URL that the images links to to the URL for the HTML file you uploaded

Cmap Tools looks at a couple maps from an earlier semester as examples.

If anyone runs into trouble, let me or Jim know the problem and we’ll see what we can do to help.

Evolution of the Internet discussion



Tuesday’s panel discussion in The Internet Course took a while to find its rhythm, due to technical difficulties. Technical difficulties on my end, and between there and the class, made it difficult for me to keep up with it as well. But some good points were made in spite of it all.

We talked a lot about online dating, and while some of that might have meandered, it does touch on the way the internet has become entwined in our lives, how its a place where we live. In a way, we’re evolving with it.

The Wizards book talks about how they worked through the challenges of getting two computers to talk to each other, to connect. That grew into the ARPAnet and eventually into the internet as we know it. In that video from the 90s we saw how the internet had moved from connecting computers to connecting people, which, as Tim Berners-Lee says, is what the web is all about.

In the 90s video, we saw Howard Reingold talking (YT) about that very thing, people connecting in online communities, a nascent thing at the time. As online community has evolved, so has our sense of how we connect to each other, which we touched upon in Tuesday’s conversation.

The other thing that interested me about the video was the question of what makes the internet different from Prodigy or Compuserve. Brendan Kehoe responded (YT) that the internet is not owned by a company or a conglomerate. I think that’s been evolving in a way, as Google has an outsized influence on the web and how we experience it, along with other large online portals that determine what to show based on personalization algorithms.

I’m looking forward to where Thursday’s discussion takes us.

Cmaps as web pages

Here are links for downloading Cmap tools, online documentation, and some short video tutorials:
Cmap Tools download page
Cmap Tools online help
Using Cmap Tools – making maps
Using Cmap Tools – adding links
earlier post on Cmaps

Here is an example of a map I made of Vannevar Bush’s seminal article, As We May Think. It’s not so much a summary as a map of thoughts about the article, but you can see some of what you can do with it. If you click on the image, it opens up the map as a web page with active links. It links back to the original article, and out to further information. The links above the map could help you figure out how to use the tool, but it’s pretty easy to just poke around the menus and see what’s what.

There are a few things you need to do to get the map online. After it’s made and saved, go to File->Export Cmap As->Web Page… This will generate an HTML file, a JPG and a GIF in whatever directory you tell it to use. You’ll need all of those. Here’s a video of the process:

Once you have your files, you’ll want to put them online. I did this by going into cPanel and using File Manager. The file needs to be in the public_html folder. I made a new folder inside of that called cmap, just to keep things organized. I went inside the cmap folder and uploaded the three files that Cmap Tools made – the HTML, the JPG and the GIF. I had named my map “As We May Think,” which in hindsight was a bad idea because I don’t know how it would handle the spaces in the file name. To fix that, I used the Rename function to take the spaces out. Then I opened a new browser tab to check if it worked. The URL for the map is my domain ( slash the folder I put it in (cmap) slash the file name (AsWeMayThink.html), or If I had put it directly in the public_html folder, the URL wouldn’t have the /cmap part. Now that I think of it, using those capital letters was a bad idea too, because it is case-sensitive. So, no spaces and no caps in your file names. It just makes life easier that way. Here’s a video clip showing what I did:

Tagging and reading

A quick note on tagging summaries – be sure to do it, and to use the following tags:

how it works
IP/fair use
digital identity

This helps to organize the summaries. If they’re tagged properly, we will see all the readings on “how it works” when we click on the tag. So when it comes to discussing that topic in class, everyone can easily see what the whole class has to say about it.

The readings

The Internet Class has done a great job so far of building the reading list. I have yet to dig into the summaries, but I’m looking forward to it. Here are a couple of things I noticed.

A number of people identified books. This is a good thing, but I would encourage them to focus on a relevant chapter rather than the whole book – otherwise it would probably be too much.

Several people found popular news sources. These are not bad, but they’re written by journalists, who are typically not experts the topics, although sometimes they are. But some of the news articles report on recent research studies. It would be better to go to the studies themselves than to use articles about them.

Those points go back to the CRAAP test, so I will review.

Currency – Is it up to date? What “up to date” means can vary. The revelations about the NSA might make a 2 year old article on security or privacy outdated, whereas a 20 year old article on ARPANET might be just as good now as it was then.

Relevance – This is kind of self-explanatory when it comes to topic, but there is also personal relevance. Some articles might require more of a technical background than some of us have. It’s okay to steer clear of those.

Authority – Sometimes an article gives a little information about the author, but sometimes it’s just a name. What makes the author worth listening to? What is his or her area of expertise? This is a big one, to me at least.

Accuracy – This can be tricky to evaluate. You can look to references, methodology, logic, and how it fits in with other information.

Purpose – Why was it written? Some things are there to inform and educate, some are there to sell, persuade and advocate. If a publication is supported by advertising, like many news sites, then it may be selling as much as informing.

Those are good questions to ask of anything we read, watch or listen to.