Higher Education

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Chapter 1: Introduction to New Media

The first chapter establishes the foundation for the book and introduces key concepts as well as some history of the Internet. The history of the Internet has long been an interest of the people who built it, and the text book has one example of that. Webdirections.org also offers A Timeline of the History of the World Wide Web.

You can often find a history section to major Internet properties like Yahoo! and Google—if not on their own sites, you can find it on Wikipedia. Another key word to use is timeline. For example, see Wikipedia’s Timeline of Yahoo.

Sonia Livingstone, mentioned in Chapter 1, has a number of web sites, but you can start with her LSE home page. Explore some of her major publications and academic contributions.

Convergence is discussed in all the major online encyclopedia, including Wikipedia, but you can find a concise definition on Wisegeek.org.

Technical terms, like packet switching, can be frustrating if you are unfamiliar with them. On the other hand, having a basic understanding of these key elements can empower you to understand what is really going on with the Internet. Most terms are easily searchable with a “define such-and-such” kind of search. Recently, Google has started placing a simple definition right on the results page of your search for these kinds of things.

Typing “define hypertext” into Google’s search engine results in this, right at the top:

Alternatively, check out this page on packet switching, created by a professor at Princeton University, as an example of the kinds of helpful pages that exist. Note all the additional links along the side as well as within the text. It is also a good example of picking a page for its “pedigree.” We can have a reasonable expectation of quality from a professor at Princeton.

Another frustration—hopefully one that is mitigated by the glossary in the book—can come from encountering many acronyms such as “ARPA” and “CERN.” You can usually find the meanings for these acronyms at AcronymFinder. Try it with “CERN”.

There are sections in the chapter that describe the history of online encyclopedias (e.g., Wikipedia), catalogues (e.g., Yahoo!), and search engines. All of these things are “self-revealing” in that you can visit them and search for questions about them on their own sites (or, alternatively, on their competitors’ sites). Try using the search terms “Wikipedia history” and “Yahoo! history” and “Google history.”

You can do the same thing with Facebook, Twitter, and the numerous other emerging or specialty social networks. All have corporate pages as well as numerous experts and commentators who have opinions about them. If you add “business” or “commentary” or “latest news” to a search for many of these companies, you can get instant updates about the company. Or you can start with Google News and search there for the latest news about a company.

Given that Facebook is the largest social network in the world, not to mention one of the older ones, you can find a growing body of scholarly analysis in addition to all of the business and popular commentaries. So, for example, here is a link to a search strategy from Google Scholar about Facebook.

Figures for Internet growth and statistics are available from many sources. We Are Social is a new site, created by the Singaporean office of social media consultancy, that provides graphically-rich and up-to-date facts and figures about the expansion of the Internet and social media. For example, check out this overview: Social, Digital, & Mobile in 2014.

Comscore provides up-to-date analysis of the largest Internet sites and collections of sites. Here is a recent press release from their site.

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) provides links and documents for a number of topics relating to the global Internet and digital divides. Some are referenced in the chapter, but it is a good idea to go to the “Home” page of those organizations to see what is new. As with many organizations, they have a link on their homepage to their press releases and latest news.

Digital divide is also something that has generated a fair bit of scholarly analysis. Read some of the articles listed on Google Scholar about the digital divide.

The chapter makes reference to online activism, which constantly evolves. You can learn more about how activists use the Internet and social media by following some key scholars in this area. You may want to read some of the articles listed on Google Scholar about online activism.

On the topic of interfaces, experts such as Donald Norman and Jakob Nielsen are frequent commentators. You can find their home pages here:

Donald Norman’s TED Talk on design and emotion is inspirational, and provides a good example of going beyond text-oriented searches when exploring topics from the book.

The chapter ends with a discussion of Web 2.0, a term that was coined by Tim O’Reilly. O’Reilly’s publishing and events company, O’Reilly Media, is a great place to search for information on new media, but try entering “tim o’reilly” into Google. You will find his Twitter channel, his page on Wikipedia, his blog, and his “radar” page—things he is interested in and following. The Radar page is in the list of important RSS feeds.

All of these topics, and more, are important for the Association of Internet Researchers, or AIR. Their homepage features links to their annual conference.