Category Archives: readings

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 The revelations about the NSA might make a 2 year old article on security or privacy outdated, whereas a 20 year old article on ARPANET might be just as good now as it was then.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.

A note about article URLs

If the URL for your reading has in it somewhere, then it is restricted to the UMW community. In cases like that, take the full title of the reading and google it. It might help to put the title in quote marks. You may find the full text online, or a Google Books link, or a journal page with the abstract. Those URLs are more useful than the ezproxy ones, which only bring up a login page, like below.

By googling the title, you might find a link to the journal. Below is an example. Access to the article is still restricted, but someone from outside UMW could at least see what the article is about and where it comes from. It’s a little thing, but it makes what we put together in this class all the more useful.


Bravo to Amber!

… for putting the first reading on the list: “Is Broadband Internet Access a Public Utility?”

This article makes a good test case for what is good enough for the list. Two big points from the CRAAP test are Authority and Purpose. What is Sam Gustin’s expertise? You can click on his name just below the article title and see what else he’s written for Time. And what is Time‘s authority and purpose? Given that Time is part of Time Warner, a major broadband provider, can we trust them to give us a even-handed account of this issue? I’m not saying that the article is biased or not, just that we should ask the question. If we took this article from the print version of Time, I might consider it a borderline case.

But maybe the real authority in the article is Susan Crawford, since her work is the subject. And since the article is online, the hyperlinks extend the content. The second link in the article goes to the Amazon page for the book, where you can use the Look Inside function to see its Table of Contents and entire Introduction. That connection adds a whole extra dimension to the article, and makes it that much more powerful, more than just a news article – as long as one uses the links.

At the time I looked at the article, the first link gives a Page Not Found error because it goes to the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, rather than the Cardozo School of Law where Crawford actually works, but that only calls into question the competence of Time’s editors, and not the quality of the article. They may have it fixed by the time anyone reads this.