So, we learned about evaluating sources of information from the Internet today. Basically, it was to help us to distinguish “reliable” sources. As we discussed this topic today, I realized that the purpose of what you are doing is the most important aspect of looking for reliable information.

For example, if you’re looking for information on the Tanzimat Reforms of the Ottoman Empire (late nineteenth-century reforms that attempted to modernize the ailing Ottoman Empire), a site such as http://www.lolcat.com (a collection of pictures with animals in anthropomorphic poses with accompanying humorous captions) would be completely worthless to you. It would not be a reliable source. However, a reliable source to you in your search for the Late Ottoman Reform movement would be http://bit.ly/b1q0NJ ( a University of Michigan PDF file that explains the Reform Movement while further referencing other scholarly works). Since this particular piece is from an educational institute (and is thus most probably peer-reviewed at some basic level for good form and research), this University of Michigan website would be, at the very least, an excellent starting place for research on the Tanzimat Reforms of the late Ottoman Empire.

We also looked at an interesting website which underscored the potentional deception of the internet, certain and their ability to seem pretty reliable but in fact are so heavily biased for (or against) a given subject that any semblence of a good research toward the veracity or fallacy of said subject is lost in a haze of propaganda-like and unproven claims. For example, let us look at http://www.martinlutherking.org/, a site which boasts deeper knowledge of not just the American Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, but the “agenda” of certain African-American organizations, groups, and even culture. Alas, a deeper look into the website’s roots leads us to the true proprietors of this website, the Stormfront forum: http://www.stormfront.org/forum/. This website is a forum used by a white supremacist group of the same name which audaciously boasts the motto “White Pride World Wide.” Now, I didn’t bother to sign up for the forums (mainly because I wouldn’t be too receptive to their exclusionary and radical message) but from what I saw, there were no historians, sociologists, or professional investigators (people who would have an “ideal” background for digging up deeper knowledge) among the “staff” on Stormfront. Ergo, I found this website, along with the Dr. Martin Luther King website they maintained, as complete and utter Internet trash and worthless in terms of finding anything out about Dr. MLK (which, I would imagine, someone would be doing if they were looking for websites on the civil rights leader).

Research: it is one of the things that students dread the most when it comes to writing those damned papers in college. No more will we students have wake long nights digging through old microfiche or ancient tomes whilst guzzling cheap coffee, all in the name of looking for that one chapter, fact, or author that would help build the monstrous thesis we thought we had a hold of when we first chose our topic.

Well, fret no more, fellow scholar, because there are tools on the Internet that are out there now that can help you get find the information you are looking for so you can finish that damn paper about the work ethic of the Swiss in in Calvinist Zurich during the mid-seventeenth century. The first one I’ll be digging my fingers into is jstor.

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http://www.jstor.org

Jstor is a collection of online, digital archive of over one thousand academic journals and other scholarly content. Growing everyday, this collection of journals and other academic journals helps students and scholars alike look for peer-reviewed, academic material and use them for their own academic or research endeavors. Although this is an amazing tool, it does require a subscription fee. Luckily, most universities allow students free access to jstor as members of the university.

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http://www.netlibrary.com

This is simply a digitization of books so that books can be read on the Internet: you don’t need to physically be at the library or have the book in your hand. The site an advanced search engine and multiple languages for all the books digitized in your respective school’s collection. So, although this service also requires a subscription fee and is limited to the books that your particular school has digitized, this is a wonderful site to help for research when it is just not feasible for you to be physically near the book, library, or research institute.

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http://www.zotero.com

And finally, this program integrates itself into Firefox (and only Firefox) to act as an aid to research, helping you save sites, articles, pictures, and most everything else  that you may use in your research. Also, this add-on can efficiently and correctly cite the sources you’ve used in almost any of the major formats used in research (APA, Chicago, MLA, IEEE, etc.)

Oh, Wikipedia. How many times have my professors warned me repeatedly about the evils of that website? Over and over again, they have vilified Wikipedia for not being a scholarly source from which to draw information to write the researched papers required for their class.
But more and more, professors are coming to see that while Wikipedia itself may not be a scholarly site to visit for reliable, valuable information, Wikipedia can be used as a hub or node to point out where good, well-researched information could be found.
For example, here is an entry on the Ottoman Empire when I query “Ottoman Empire” on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ottoman_Empire. Although there is some great and intriguing information on this website, no researcher of the Ottoman Empire can be truly sure if the claims made by the author or authors are made through a scholarly medium. The wonderful thing about Wikipedia is that one can make footnotes to the written contentions you make in the article. For example, facts about the tragic Armenian Genocide are footnoted to a Peter Balakian, who wrote, The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America’s Response. (New York: Perennial, 2003). As one can see, the claims of the Armenian Genocide are not just mere facts or even wild contentions, but claims drawn from scholarly sources, such as Mr. Balakian’s analysis of it in his book.

However, there are wikis that are a little different from the Wikipedia, which serves as a massive, multi-lingual hub for information on countless subjects and a plethora ideas and beliefs. Some wikis are a bit specific. For example http://www.wowwiki.com/Portal:Main is a Wikipedia site solely dedicated to all things World of Warcraft: the Massively Multiplayer Online Role-playing Game (MMORPG – a socially vibrant gaming world where players may play, fight, trade, do business, or just chat in an imaginary fantasy virtual world), which has a dedicated, monthly subscription of over 15 million players world-wide. If anyone needs anything at all about the “WoW” universe (as it is called in internet shorthand), he or she goes to wowwiki to find all their World of Warcraft needs.

Similarly, http://lotro-wiki.com/ is the specialized Wikipedia that players of Lord of the Rings: Online (LOTRO) go to for finding all the information they need for their game of choice. LOTRO is similar to WoW in that LOTRO is also an MMORPG.

24

May

by jajamoo

Social networking has grown exponentially from it was first introduced in the 90s. Socializing is no longer something one does at the physical, face-to-face level anymore. Want to catch up with that old friend from college who lives currently on the other side of the country? Now, there’s no need to spend up money, take off from work, get on an overpriced plane, and physically go over to have a chat with him Instead, you turn on your PC and leave a wall message for him on the social networking site http://www.facebook.com/, an eclectic social networking site where you can share stories, movies, pictures, sent invites to plans made on Facebook, and write on other people’s “walls,” the equivalent of a whiteboard you can write on with a sharpie. Conversely, other people can do the same on your wall, which makes facebook an extremely useful tool to connect or re-connect to people know (or might not know so well).
The ability to connect to other people is astounding, as Facebook is not the only social networking website out there. I will name and describe shortly a few of the newer social networking sites out there on the Internet.

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http://www.plurk.com/
– Plurk can be described as Facebook-lite, with some different features. Plurk has a long timeline which you add events to remind you of them. More importantly, PLurk consolidates Facebook, Yahoo, and Twitter by showing updates from aforementioned social networking or microblogging sites on the blue area in the top. This would be useful to not have to check each and every social networking or microblogging site for the latest updates.

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Http://ning.com
– Ning is the social platform for the world’s interests and passions online. Millions of people every day are coming together across Ning to explore and express their interests, discover new passions, and meet new people around shared pursuits. Ning is just basically a site that pulls people into groups that have similar tastes and lets the discuss and discover their passions.

Of course, there are countless more, but there are the ones that I found most interesting and easy to use.

19

May

by jajamoo

Yesterday in class, we talked about blogging. Apparently, another phenomenon known as microblogging has become the new virtual phenomenon on the internet and cellphones. Microblogging is like blogging but is more like updates that are posted to a microblogging site (such as Twitter), which consist of no more than a few hundred characters. Tweeting has become a phenomenon that most of us did not see coming. As Biz Stone said on the Colbert Report a while ago, “[Twitter] was something we didn’t know we needed until it came out…” Now, I don’t know about people needing Twitter but I can say that it has become an indispensible tool for institutions, journalists, and politicians alike.

At first, I imagined Twitter to be some sort of gimmick but I see now that it has become more relevant than I thought at first. For example, President Obama uses Twitter to make updates about policies he is pushing or his plans for the future. In addition, even more up-to-minute news has become more common place: the recent elections in Iran were not particularly open to criticism or transparency. The real-time updates that Twitter provided helped the world know what was going on during Iran’s tumultuous times during the elections. When natural disasters occur such as the tragic earthquake in Haiti or Chile, Twitter was a great tool to alert the world of the disaster that was occuring in real-time, as opposed to only waiting for the world media to fly in to cover the disaster hours or days later.

I guess my point in this post is that Microblogging (especially Twitter) has become a bigger phenomenon than I realized at first and that microblogging such as Twitter has become very relevant to the world and will continue to be relevant in the coming years.

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Sources:

http://www.twitter.com

http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/223487/april-02-2009/biz-stone

http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-march-2-2009/twitter-frenzy

19

May

by jajamoo

I didn’t think I’d have to tweet ever again but here I am, at the behest of my professor, starting to tweet again.

One of the assignments we had to do today was to find some Twitter accounts to find and follow. So, I found a site or three to follow. I ended up following The Washington Post (the news periodical), MidEastNews (a group that reports on breaking news in Middle East politics and events), and NewGamesUK (a gaming site in the UK that updates on new events and news from the United Kingdom).

I imagine I won’t be tweeting too much but it will definitely be interesting to see how this changes the way I find news for the things I find interesting (such as gaming news and Middle East politics).

Until next time,
Moe

19

May

by jajamoo

I find this post to be particularly interesting, as it is a blog post about blogging. It’s like doing a senior thesis on senior theses. Anyway, I figured this post would be a perfect time for me to share a few of the blogs that I read sometimes. I say sometimes because I don’t really read blogs as much as I used to and don’t spend nearly as much time as I used to at a computer. I will follow each link with a short description about the blog and why I enjoy the content of said blog.

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http://dorkshelf.com/

This is DorkShelf.com, a blog that reviews, comments on, and examines various video games, comics, and movies. This is run by a personal friend of mine named Will, who lives in Toronto. Along with the fact that this is an independent blog with no affiliations with any of the things that are blogged about, the writing is sharp, the podcasts are interesting (and at times, hilarious), and the dudes running the blog are chill.
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http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/herocomplex/

This is quite possibly my favorite blog concerning super-heroes, super-villains, and all things comic-y and/or nerdy. Run by the LA Times, this blog, various writers contribute to the blog, making each piece fresh, unique, and varied. This eclecticism can make each post very different: posts can range from witty criticisms to analysis of rumors.

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http://raymitheminx.com/

Another quirky Canadian blog, this blog is a guilty pleasure of mine. It is run by a waifish, air-headed Canadian woman (girl) named Raymi and for some reason, this blog has garnered some high praise from the blogosphere pundits in Canada. These accolades lead me to believe that either the pundits that review and give awards to bloggers are complete morons or Canada has very few bloggers who can string together a coherent sentence, let alone post something on her blog that is intelligible or a blast to read. So, why do I read Raymi’s blog? The pictures are purty and well photographed.

18

May

by jajamoo

LOLCATS BE STEALIN UR HEARTZ!

18

May

by jajamoo

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