Higher Education

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Introduction

These ancillary materials are intended as a companion to New Media: An Introduction, Second Edition, Oxford University Press Canada (2014). Each chapter of this supplement includes web links, which are intended to provide additional resources, further reading, and more general links.

This document also includes a set of “RSS” feeds. RSS stands for “really simple syndication.” It is a web protocol that—with a bit of companion software—allows you to receive headlines and short snippets of news from a website without having to visit that site in your browser. You can copy these links into a news reader program (e.g., Feedly) to get daily updates on a number of topics.

Before you start to explore these links, I have some suggestions for those of you hoping to make your web explorations more useful and focused.

Be aware that, these days, the natural response for most of us is to put our questions into the most popular search engine: Google. This is generally a good idea, but it doesn’t hurt to think about a few limitations or considerations when using a search engine. Here are some things to consider:

  • The first few links that turn up in any search are likely paid results. Typically they are feature a different type or background colour. The fact that the owners of those sites have paid to “rise to the top” isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it is important to know that this is explicitly a form of paid advertising.
  • Some of the sources you will come across are “content farms” that have no other purpose than to get you to read the advertising all around them. You’ll want to watch for the following patterns: seemingly random words linked on the page, especially when they lead to other pages in that site or some other commercial site; pop-up ads; and much more advertising than seems the norm. Avoid these sites.
  • In light of the “Snowdon revelations” related to the surveillance of phone calls and online activity, you may be reluctant to participate in a process that gathers information about you and provides it to either government sources or commercial entities. Alternative search engines with an explicit mandate to protect your privacy (e.g., DuckDuckGo).

When you have a question or a desire to explore a topic further, it is natural to look in Wikipedia. Wikipedia can be an excellent place to start. But don’t stop there. Use Wikipedia’s internal discussion pages—every page has a “Talk” tab that links to the back-and-forth conversation that goes on among a page’s contributors. Reading these discussion pages can help you learn more about any controversies around the topic. Use the references and further reading at the bottom to find other sources and perspectives.

As a college/university student, you will want to expand your searches to Google’s special site for scholarship: Google Scholar. This is an excellent place to explore many of the topics in this book.

You should also learn about the search tools that your university or college provides. Many of the sites that you encounter in Google require a subscription. But if you access those pages through your library’s web page you will find that—once you enter your username and password—you will be available to access those sites for free. This includes many magazines and newspapers and most online sites for scholarly journals.

In addition to the sources that I recommend below, your professor or teaching assistant can also recommend some of the sites they use to keep up with emerging topics in the field. Taking advantage of your professor’s experience and expertise can save you time and help you engage in the ongoing conversations that goes on in any discipline.

In this age of online personalities, scholars— especially the younger ones—are often active participants on the web. This means that many of the authors you will encounter in this book maintain active on blogs, Twitter feeds, and personal web pages (or the academic.edu and researchgate.net equivalents). It might be a fun exercise to check out a few of the authors that you find here to see what they are doing now and what they are saying on their Twitter accounts.

Finally, you can take key phrases and questions from the book and turn these into searches in your favorite search engine. For example, consider asking, “What is new media?” or “What is convergence?” or “Define packet switching.” Putting plain-language questions into a search engine is often a better strategy than using a single keyword.