Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Free Rider Problem Part 2

Through the years the internet has become one of the largest growing communication Media available. Everyday thousands of people log onto the internet and participate in online discussions. The free-rider problem is something that has been around since the creation of the internet, and is slowly becoming a non-issue. In this essay I will describe to you the encounters I experienced with the free-rider problem, and give you my opinion on its affects.

This week in class we were assigned to monitor a pre- World Wide Web technology, and react on the things we saw. There were many different social media available to us, but I choose to monitor a Usenet group. Usenet is a place where a bunch of people with the same interests can come and post messages about that specific topic. (p.111) Authors Peter Kollock and Marc Smith wrote “Managing Virtual Commons,” which presented many problems and solutions for the Usenet communities. According to the authors, Usenet has “grown exponentially, and currently consists of several thousand discussion groups.” (P. 111) Basically, you can go onto Usenet and find almost any group you are looking for. One major problem that faces the members of these Usenet groups is Free Riding. To me a free-rider is one who benefits from the work of others without doing their fair share, or actively disrupts a community. The group I joined was This is a board where New York Jet fans from all over can come and discuss the happenings of their team. Over the course of the week that I monitored this media, subjects such as the coaching staff, New England Patriots, Chad Pennington, and of course Brett Farve were discussed. Opinions were thrown around, and some bad mouthing accrued. I decided to not join this group, but to sit back and watch the types of interactions that were taking place. From the beginning I knew it was going to be a very interesting experience because I am currently on a New York Jets message board on I was very anxious to see the difference between the boards, and the way they operated.

Now let’s get to this issue of free-riding. Throughout my first two days observing the Usenet group, there were no clear cut signs of free-riding. Maybe I caught one person posting positive messages under a guest name, where no accountability was to be had. Zero spam, or off topic threads were posted and it seemed to be a happy little community. I figured that sometime during this period I would certainly encounter some sort of free-riding since it is such a large issue. Still, day three and four gave me nothing. But as I logged on this morning to do my final blog reaction there were a couple spam threads up, and some off topic discussions. I began to think why there would be four cases of spam in this one day, but none on the other. Do these spammers wait until after the Jet fans emotions are stirring a day after a brutal loss? Are they that smart? I came to the conclusion that it had nothing to do with that, a little bit of spam is just no big deal. Kollock and Smith discussed the different things a Usenet community might do in the face of free-riding and spam. Discussed by the authors were strategies such as penalizing them, kicking them off the group, ranting and raving at them, or simply ignoring them. (p. 124) Out of all of those options, the least likely I believed to happen would be to ignore them and hope they go away! Personally if I were a diehard member of this group, the frustration with spam would drive me through the roof. But not, all four cases of spam had zero responses. The members of this community chose to ignore spam such as, “Carmen Electra P*S*Y Flash,” or “Watch Videos and Earn Money on” These actions seemed to have worked. Shortly after those off topic post were added, normal conversation went on again about the Jets, and what do to for next week. It seems like this free-rider problem is not so much of a problem.

With the internet growing at the speed at which it is, and the communication media expanding faster than ever the occurrences of this free-rider problem will always be around. In my opinion the people today are so used to this spam that we take it with a grain of salt. We don’t give it the attention someone like Kollock and Smith might have in 1996. Its 2008, we deal with this type of junk on a day to day basis. I learned a lot from the time I spent observing this Usenet group, and was surprised with their reaction to their encounter with free-riders. It goes to show you the normalcy that we now have adapted for these types of nuisances.

Kollock, Peter & Smith, Marc. (1996) Managing the virtual commons: Cooperation and conflict in computer comminutes. In Susan C. Herring (Ed.), Computer-mediated communication: Linguistic, social and cross-cultural perspectives (pp. 109-128). Philadelphia: John Benajmins.

essay 2 blog 5

As I log onto my Usenet group for the last time, I notice some things that I have not seen in the previous four blogs. SPAM!!! There were four different accounts of spam posted ranging from “Britany Spears and her pink panties,” to “boobs webcams.” Surprisingly not one person responded to any of the posts. (Maybe they read Kollock and Smith lol) There was a bunch of talk of the game next week which was nice to see, and also some reactions from the Monday night football game. There was some apparent Farve smashing, and one topic calling for the firing of the head coach. I am going to do some thinking on why there was just spam on this one day, but not all the others. (That just sounded like Passover, I guess the holidays are around the corner.)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Web 2.0

For Wednesdays class we were assigned to read a chapter by Tim O’Reilly called “What is Web 2.0.” In this chapter O’Reilly tries to explain the Web 2.0 technology, and the many ways in which it has advanced since the “Web 1.0” technologies. He states “This article is an attempt to clarify just what we mean by Web 2.0.” The author discusses how the whole idea started, and the founding meetings in which the basis of it was formed. O’Reilly also stresses that a “platform beats an application every time.” The power to control the actual platform, gives a company like Microsoft the ability to almost force the use of their programs. He speaks of the rise of blogging as a Web 2.0 technology, and the development Wikipedia.

In my reflection I wanted to focus on the topic of folksonomy, and how it affects my daily life. I find the invention of this “tagging” to be amazing. Every time I buy something on, or they store these key words, or items I bought. The next time I log onto their websites there are recommended items for purchase. I receive emails everyday from Amazon stating “save 50 percent on all blu-ray DVD’s,” or “don’t wait, pre-order Grand Theft Auto 4.” The way the web can now almost act as a human, and think like a human is mind-boggling. The invention of Wikipedia is another Web 2.0 technology that O’Reilly feels “changes the dynamics of content creation.” This online encyclopedia has almost everything, and I can even log on and make a change to a page. This new way of collecting information, using everyone intelligence is something could not be imagined pre Web 2.0. The breadth of its subjects is really endless. My best friend is an extremely talented college lacrosse player, and he even has his own Wikipedia page! (I must admit I have logged on and messed with it a couple times..ha)

O’Reilly, Tim (2005). What is Web 2.0:Design patterns and business models for the next generation of software. Retrieved August 21, 2008 from http:/

Monday, September 22, 2008

essay 2 post 4

A little bit tipsy as a return from the bar disappointed in the Jets performance, I stumble onto my Usenet group to see what is being discussed. Still, not much discussion about the game itself, but increasingly more skepticism of Coach Mangini. There were a bunch of posts about the Jets sucking, or Electrician stating “someone take out farve’s knees, Jets suck.” There was also much discussion about getting a big time hear coach. Many fans are sick of Mangini, and want to throw a bunch of money at hall of famer coaches that are willing to still coach. The only discussion of the game was a message posted about the Jets blitz pickup, and how the offensive line struggled. It is only 11:51 pm, and I will check back in the morning to see if there is more talk about the game. (I’m not really that tipsy, just thought it would be funny to state).

essay 2 post 3

Here I am Monday morning and there is still no talk of the big game
tonight. There is one post about the punter, and how he is healthy and
active for tonight. There was more some Patriot trashing, as one poster
commented on how Randy Moss was sitting by himself on the bench near the
end of the game. The Miami linebacker Joey Porter was also mentioned
because of his bold comments about the patriots before the game.
Comments and predictions they actually executed on. I wish there was
more talk about the game, but I am assuming it will start heating up a
couple hours before game time when the pre-game shows are on.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

2nd essay blog 2

Today I chose to blog because it was football Sunday, and I wanted to see how the people reacted to the day’s games. The Jets do not play until Monday night, which is a very special event. Most teams do not even get one Monday night football game, so to see their team in the national spotlight is a special thing. Surprisingly there was no talk of the game, but more talk about the New England Patriots. The language was increasingly hostile, as I am guessing some patriot fans had logged onto the Jets board to defend their team. Jack Thomas even stated “Please do be getting facefucked by a cinderblock,” to describe what he thought about the Jet poster. Also, there was talk of how the Dolphins did not need Ex-Jet quarterback Chad Pennington because they ran all over the Patriots. It should be interesting to see if there is more talk about the game tomorrow.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


I have chosen the New York Jets usenet group on Google groups to observe and report about. I decided that if I was going to observe a group I might as well make it something I am very interested it. As I stated in my last blog, I follow a message board on on the New York Jets so it will be interesting to see the different opinions on the different boards. The activity on the board today was discussing the game from last week where the Jets lost to the Patriots. People were criticizing the coach’s decision to run it three times in a row. I am looking forward to seeing the development of these arguments, and observing the different comments these Jet fans have.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Basics

In the reading “New Media and Web Production” by Whitaker the characteristics of the new media advancements are explained. Discussed in this article are the functions of text, hypertext, digital imaging, audio, video, and the language in which these websites are designed. Explained by Whitaker are the same principals of web sites we have been discussing in class for the past couple weeks. He mentions the advancement of hypertext, how digital imaging has progressed to make websites more appealing. The author also speaks on video, and how it has made the Internet more interactive and the improvement of media players such as quicktime and realplayer. The author also discussed the HTML language how the web pages are formatted, and the development of new languages such as XML, and CCS.

I wanted to focus my response to the park of the chapter that Whitaker focuses on video and AV basics, and the technology of streaming media. I can remember the time when I used to sit in my basement and wait for the whole song to download. (I couldn’t survive the amount of time needed for a video without food and water..ha) Now we have things such as RealPlayers and Quicktime that allow us to listen to music right away. With the speed of the Internet now a day, you hardly have to wait at all for videos. There are many WebPages I log onto daily that have live streaming videos. Most of which just start by themselves, I don’t even click or download anything at all. This has made the Internet so much more appealing, and it allowed transferring of information free and easy. One other thing I would like to briefly touch on was the importance of hypertext in my day to day Internet experience. Every single day I go on websites such as, or and immediately I am presented with thousands of different links that take me to articles of various different topics. I honestly cannot imagine what the web would be like without this technology.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Free-Rider Problem?

In the chapter “Managing the Virtual Common: Cooperation and Conflict in Computer Communities,” Peter Kollock and Mark Smith discuss the difficulties encountered with the issues of cooperation on new computer mediated communication systems. Kollock and Smith discuss the subject of the free-rider problem, and whether cooperation can ever be possible. The authors also discuss the platform Usenet in depth, and explain the complex community it facilitates. The writers speak of the basic functions of Usenet, and they begin to talk about the problems they have encountered. They explain Usenet as a place where people can go and find a specific topic they are interested and post messages for others to reply too. The free-rider dilemma comes into play here, because there are many people who simply do not contribute to this community and just take advantage of its benefits. Kollock and Smith also talk about ways to manage virtual commons. In most successful virtual commons there are a set of rules that are stated, and there is some kind of way of enforcing penalties for these infractions. The one major problem is that there is no good way of really punishing these people, if the users in a certain topic want to make it private to post then it takes away from the interactivity and makes it more like a private bulletin board system. The authors mention the issue of group size, and the concern that if the group grows too large it will get increasingly difficult to manage. According to Ostrom, “the most important feature of successful communities is that they have clearly defined boundaries.”

From this chapter I learned a lot about Usenet, something I had no previous knowledge of. Also, I learned about the problems in which these virtual communities face. I read on a daily basis the New York Jets discussion board on During this reading I related the material to my day to day experiences on this message board, and I found the description of Usenet to be very similar characteristics. Discussed in this reading was the problem of free-riders. I completely understand the problem of free-riders and plagiarism, there is no explanation for plagiarism by any means. But every day I log into this discussion board and read what’s going on today in team news, and opinions of long time educated Jet fans. There are probably over 50 people that post on a daily basis, but I simply log on and educate myself on the up daily news of my favorite team. Am I a free-rider? Why can’t I read others work and educate myself without being a free-rider? I confess I do not contribute anything to this community, but I don’t understand the problem with me learning from them, and I feel like this applies to someone on Usenet reading up on how to fix their mac.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Diversity of the Internet

The Internet is a profound new technology that has changed communication throughout the world. The utilization of the Internet as a means of communicating really grew in the 90’s and has changed the accessibility and movement of information forever. Many people say that the Internet is different from television, or any other mediums of communication for that matter. There are many defining characteristics of the Internet that set it apart from other communication mediums. Perhaps the most significant is its ability for multi-party communicating. Communication on the Internet is primarily visual and not only used for personal communicating but also for public discourse (Adams and Clark 28).
Adams and Clark explain well in chapter two how the Internet does not fit neatly into an academia definition of a communication medium. A technology is constantly evolving, growing, and expanding the sphere of communication, information, and knowledge to all corners of the world (Adams and Clark 30). There are many characteristics of the Internet that make it unique and unlike other mediums. The characteristics are embedded in previous forms of communication, but put together with the Internet is what makes the technology so profound. The Internet is a “network of networks,” and has the ability to open up two-way communication unlike other forms of communication such as the television (Adams and Clark 29).
The Internet is multimediated, interactive, hyptertextual, digital and packet based (Adams and Clark 35). These five characteristics are prominent qualities that set aside the Internet from other communication forms. Rafaeli and Newhagen first introduced these qualities in 1996 as significant qualities, according to Adams and Clark. Multimediated is not unique to the Internet, however, it is taken to new heights and levels when compared to other things such as books with pictures (Adams and Clark 36). The Internet opens of the capability for people to use sound, graphics, 3-D images, life photos, videos, and text all at the same time (Adams and Clark 37). Adams and Clark use the webpage as an example to show the multimedia capabilities of the Internet. One may see video advertisements on the side of a webpage, while reading a textual article, which may include a video box… all while listening to your iTunes, if you want to. The ability to communicate by reading, talking, seeing, and hearing all at the same time is a very defining characteristic.
The Internet is also capable of hypertextuality. This means that one has the ability to link any source of information with any other using the Internet (Adams and Clark 37). Adams and Clark explain how the idea or theory of hypertextuality has been around since the 1960s, but has really only been utilized to a useful potential with the Internet (Adams and Clark 37). When on a webpage, one may have the option of clicking on a picture and it playing a video, or clicking an underlined word or link and being sent to another page with more information (Adams and Clark 37). The ability to link information together increases the accessibility of content and broadens the audience to whom it may reach. This aspect of the Internet has increased the public sphere of discussion greatly.
Perhaps the most interesting characteristic of the Internet is that it is interactive. With the Internet, people can determine where and when and what they do (Adams and Clark 38). You can also have the ability to respond or give back content. The interactive characteristic makes it a multi-party means of communicating. The ability to interact with the Internet is extensive. One can not only chose what to read or see and where to get their content, but they can have private messages or chats between other parties or people. People may also shop and make purchases and sales. You can enter personal information such as interests and receive information catered to your interests back (Adams and Clark 39). The interactive aspect of the Internet seems to be ever growing and expanding and allows a greater audience to utilize this means of communication. People can communicate from any corner of the world.
The Internet is also packet based. Packet switching is the technology used to send information over the Internet. The information is sent in groups or “packets” and therefore makes it secure and reliable (Adams and Clark 40). This unique technology is complex. The information is sent in packs on a route of networks and it is designed to know where it is going and get there…despite any attempts to block it. With that in mind, the content on the Internet is difficult or nearly impossible to censor (Adams and Clark 40). This is a unique characteristic of the Internet because it makes it a true means of communicating.
As confusing as packet switching may be to understand, it is only possible because the Internet is digital (Adams and Clark 41). Digitalizing information and content is why the Internet is possible and functional. Digital devices use numbers and codes to store information, using 0s and 1s. Digital encoding of information has many advantages. The information is clear and less vulnerable to damage and destruction. This makes the Internet unique as well because not only does it have a high capacity for content being sent, used, or stored but also the content is safe because it is digitalized (Adams and Clark 41).
The Internet is unique and has countless capabilities. The characteristics of the Internet combine to make an ultra medium for communication. The ability to give and take information, listen, read watch or write content and store large amounts of content all with one tool is significant to the world of communication.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Communication as a Medium

In this chapter, the discussion starts over the strengths and weaknesses of the Internet. Also, discussed was the medium in which the Internet is categorized. The author states that the Internet does not fall into any particular medium, it spans all of them. (Adams & Clark, 3) This is something that I agree with 100 percent, it is changing in so many interactive ways every day that it is impossible to group it into one medium. In the last five years of my life, the way in which I have used the Internet has went from that good ole dial up sound, to talking to friends through a camera or instant messaging. Being in my twenties and growing up in the technology age has been enlightening. To think back to what it must of been like to research information, get news, just communicate blows my mind. The difficulty they must have encountered makes me realize how lucky we are to have these tools at our fingertips. The reading went on to talk about the reliability of the Internet, and how accessible it is. The percentage of homes with Internet accessibility is growing, and I can see the day with it will catch up to the telephone. I believe that steps need to be taken to have more public places where people who do not have the privilege of the Internet could go and access the web. Also discussed was the speed in which the Internet travels. It has evolved tremendously since the early days, and now many people even have access on their telephones. The medium qualities where mentioned as well, focusing on six different elements. These six were multimediated, hypertexual, interactive, asynchronous, packet based, and digital. (Adams & Clark, 27) The one that I feel is most important is that the Internet has become hypertextual. This means that we can hyperlink, and have a web page that we can connect to all types of related information. To me hypertextualtily is so crucial for the Internet as we see it today, there are very few websites out there that do not take advantage of its benefits. In all honesty, I cannot picture a world without the Internet. It has not only connected, but it has enriched the way in which we communicate. Many disagree, and say we are losing out on interpersonal communication, but I feel we are just forming a new kind. Everything evolves, and the Internet is evolving the way in which we communicate.