Category Archives: summaries

Of summaries and Cmaps

We’re putting a lot of work up front in this class, but it’s distributed to be manageable, and the load will lessen for a few weeks afterwards. This evening the class will brainstorm how we plan on approaching the main topics of The Internet Course:

how it works
how it has evolved
intellectual property/fair use
digital identity
social/economic/cultural impacts
where it’s going

Each student will be assigned two of the topics, and will be responsible for finding and summarizing three readings on each one. The results of the brainstorming session will help in finding information. Everyone will have to find different readings. To help avoid duplication, everyone will have to enter information about their readings in the Readings Form on the course site. The form feeds a spreadsheet, also visible on the page, so everyone can see what has already been taken. The instructors will vet the list. Anything deemed unacceptable will be highlighted in red, and that person will have to find something else. Readings can be research articles, reports, books, book chapters, or videos.

Each reading will have to be summarized in a blog post. The summary should give the reader a clear idea of what the article is about, what argument it makes, the major points it brings up, and the conclusions it reaches. The summary is not meant to be a review or a reaction. It is meant to save the rest of the class the time of reading the article.

Each summary needs to be tagged. In WordPress there is a box in the right-hand column for tags. The tags we will use are:

how it works
IP/fair use
digital identity

It is very important to enter the tags exactly as written above. Some readings may be appropriate for more than one category, so feel free to use more than one tag.

As a result of this process, each student will have six summary posts, three for each assigned topic. Everyone should read each others’ summaries. As a class, we will have digested a large body of knowledge, which will form the basis of our discussions over the next several weeks.

Each student will also create two concept maps. Each concept map will break down the three articles a student has summarized and draw out connections between them. We will be using Cmap Tools for this process, and we will talk more about it on Tuesday. I’m putting it out there now because the mapping process will go a lot easier if it is taken into consideration while summarizing. I will be writing more on Cmaps before Tuesday.

Summaries so far

The summaries I’ve skimmed through so far have been quite good. It’s interesting to consider the connections between them. The past and the future of the internet exist on a continuum rather than as two separate things, as Kim suggests. That’s an important thing to be aware of when looking at the history. Thare are a lot of readings that look at the roots, but history is ongoing, and a lot of what the Web is has happened in that last decade or so. Another connection I see is between James’ summaries on privacy and darknets. In light of what we’ve been hearing about the NSA, Tor is as much a way to protect one’s privacy as it is a channel for criminal activity. And to some, trying to protect privacy is criminal activity.  (Pardon my soapboxing.)

cc 2010 Calsidyrose

cc 2010 Calsidyrose

By looking at the summaries we can start planning out where we’re going to go with this course over the next four weeks. We need to figure out who is going to lead each week, what kind of project we’ll be making, and how we’re going to schedule it out over the week. For the fifth week we’re only going to have two days, so we’ll need to think and plan ahead about that.

Summary examples

Here are some examples of article summaries. Author names have been omitted. A good summary should give readers a clear idea of what an article is about, what arguments it makes and what conclusions is reaches. The point of summarizing readings is to digest and interpret the information for the benefit of the rest of the class.
This paper describes exactly what a weblog is and how it developed from the first blog by Tim Berners-Lee in 1991. By observing 203 blogs, the researchers look into how people use the freedom they have with blogs. What they found out was that while bloggers form connections with various topics on the internet, they frequently use their page as a creative space to express their individualism.

The above summary gives a basic idea of what the article is about, but it could use more detail. From just glancing at the conclusions, it seems there is more to it than what is described above. The URL is problematic because it is restricted to UMW. It would have been better to use this URL,, which can be found by Googling the article title, “Weblogs as a bridging genre.”

The mystery of the webpage is complicated thought of those who do not understand what makes up the web. There is no World Wide Web without hypertext, so why not understand what the driving force behind the one piece of technology use on a daily basis. Though this article is well over twenty years old it explains hypertext in a simple manner in which anyone could understand. The article explores the future (today) of the hypertext and how it will change the way we even think. Seems as though they nailed the head on the coffin with that statement. Additionally, the article explains the history of hypertext and how it eventually was used to create the World Wide Web. The article even explores the limitations of hypertext during that time period. Such limitations of hypertext was the overwhelming amount of data associated with it. However, for the most part we have overcome this dilemma with better internet connections, faster speed, and more storage on our devices. Learn how the web came to be with this intriguing piece of history on the explanation of hypertext.

This communicates some information about the article, but is more like a teaser to get you to read it than a summary. It should tell us something more about hypertext than just saying that the article explains hypertext. The point of summarizing is not to get us to read the articles, but to make it so that we don’t need to read them.

abstractThis is the abstract from the article, “Engineering a Principle: ‘End-to-End’ in the Design of the Internet.” It is a good example of a summary, although the language is more formal than what we might use.