Archive for the ‘classes’ Category

Thing 6 – Evaluating Information Found on the Web

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

Reasons to Evaluate

We use the information we’ve found on the Internet or Web for a variety of purposes. Sometimes we use it for entertainment, recreation, or casual conversation. When we use the information for research, we have to be sure the information is reliable and authoritative.


CC License.

That puts us in the position of having to verify information and make judgments about whether it is appropriate. We need to think critically, as opposed to using information just because it’s available to us or published on the Web.

In some situations, we don’t have to do that work on our own. Some information is screened before it comes to us. When we retrieve information from an academic or research library, either by using the Web or by visiting in person, we rely on professional librarians who have evaluated and selected the material. Information in a database that’s been prepared by a scholarly or commercial organization is often evaluated and checked for correctness before it’s made available. Articles and reports published by scholarly organizations, research labs, and government agencies often go through an independent review process before being published. Some librarians and other information specialists have established virtual libraries on the Web where they review, evaluate, and list reliable sources of information on the World Wide Web.

Here are some of those virtual libraries:

Thinking critically about information and its sources means being able to separate facts from opinions. We have to be able to verify information and know its source, we have to determine whether the facts are current, and we need to know why someone offered the data at all. After considering these issues, we can decide whether the information is appropriate for our purposes.


When we access or retrieve something on the World Wide Web we need to be able to decide whether the information is useful, reliable, or appropriate for our purposes.

Who is the author or institution?

    • If the author is a person, does the resource give biographical information about him or her, including any of the following: educational and other credentials, position, institutional affiliation, and street address? (Sometimes an e-mail address is not enough.)
    • If the author is an institution, is there information provided about it, including the purpose and history of the institution, in addition to a street address?
    • Have you seen the author’s or institution’s name cited in other sources or bibliographies?
    • The URL can give clues to the authority of a source. A tilde ~ in the URL usually indicates that it is a personal page rather than part of an institutional Web site. Also, make a mental note of the domain section of the URL, as follows:
.edu educational (anything from serious research to zany student pages)
.gov governmental (usually dependable)
.com commercial (may be trying to sell a product)
.net network (may provide services to commercial or individual customers)
.org organization (non-profit institutions; may be biased)
  • If the page is part of a larger institution’s Web site, does the institution appear to filter the information that appears at its site? Is the information provided put through some screening process before it is put on the Web?

How current is the information?

  • Is there a date on the Web page that indicates when the page was placed on the Web?
  • Is it clear when the page was last updated?
  • Is some of the information obviously out-of-date?
  • Does the page creator mention how frequently the material is updated?

Who is the audience?

  • Is the Web page intended for the general public, scholars, practitioners, children, etc.? Is this clearly stated?
  • Does the Web page meet the needs of its stated audience?

Is the content accurate and objective?

  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, or institutional biases?
  • Is the content intended to be a brief overview of the information or an in-depth analysis?
  • If the information is opinion is this clearly stated?
  • If there is information copied from other sources is this acknowledged? Are there footnotes if necessary?

What is the purpose of the information?

  • Is the purpose of the information to inform, explain, persuade, market a product, or advocate a cause?
  • Is the purpose clearly stated?
  • Does the resource fulfill the stated purpose?


Look for the name of the author or institution at the top or bottom of a Web page.
Go to the home page for the site that hosts the information to find out about the organization.
To find further information about the institution or author use a search engine to see what related information is available on the Web.
Use the Google Groups or another tool to search archives of Usenet articles to find other information about the author or institution, and in the case of an individual to see what sorts of articles they’ve posted on Usenet.
Check the top and bottom of a Web page for the date the information was last modified or updated. If no date is present you can sometimes determine when the file holding the document or item was last modified. Most Web servers are configured to send that information along to a client.

Information on the World Wide Web About Evaluating Resources

There are several good resources on the World Wide Web to help you evaluate information. They give in-depth information about critically examining documents that appear on the Web or in print, and they offer other guidelines and suggestions for assessing Internet and Web resources.

Guides to evaluating library resources:

Brief guide to evaluating resources on the World Wide Web:

Guides to evaluating resources on the World Wide Web:


  1. Re-read the criteria for evaluating information on the Web, and  then read How to Critically Analyze Information Sources, References Services Division of the Cornell University Library.
  2. Do a search on the topic “violent crime” in each of the following. Comment on the differences in the results:  Google news,  Google ScholarWikipedia
  3. Complete the exercises in  “Evaluating Web Sites,”. Post answers in your blog
  4. Complete the exercises  “Evaluating Web Sites Exercise,”. Post answers in your blog

Class 5. CPSC 104. Summer 2012

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Dates for presentations

  • Monday, June 4 – Felicia Holzgrefe
  • Tuesday June 5 – Terra Sadek
  • Wednesday June 6 – Erik Hennigar
  • Thursday June 7 – Sam Carolus-Hager
  • Monday, June 11 – Ornella Irakoze
  • Tuesday, June 12 – Eva Jones
  • Wednesday, June 13 – Jack Anderson
  • Thursday, June 14 – James Barfield
  • Monday, June 18 – Golda Essuman

Research Topics

  • Terra, and I want to write about how the internet can affect the environment on an international scale. The internet connects people, and people are what determine the livelihood of our world. I think I want to focus on the improvement of the environment. We can share ideas and concepts.
  • Sam – I’ll be writing about the effects the internet has had on economics. See my blog for more details
  • Jack- my paper will be about increased connection to the internet and how that affects global development, especially how developing countries are bypassing desktop computers and the reasons behind that.
  • Ornella Irakoze – I would like to do my topic on the useful effects of the internet in spreading information or news on global crisis. For example, Events such as Haiti earthquake donations, national prayer requests in Europe for the sick, and updated petitions in different countries can be spread throughout the internet which allows people arond the world to be informed about recent events happening in different countries.

Add links to blogroll.

Learn about viewing blogs using netvibes

Go over

Thing 5 – Using the Web for Research

For Thursday:

  • Add a blogroll to your blog
  • Set up an account on netvibes
  • Read Thing 5 and then do the hands-on activity. Write about your experiences in your blog.



Thing 5 – Using the Web for Research

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

About Using the Web for Research

The Web has revolutionized the way research is done.  The Web has eliminated the need in many cases to access physical items. Articles, books, images, recordings, videos of interest to researchers are available through the Web.

This cornucopia of resources available at little or no monetary charge does come at some cost. Researchers must often fill the same role we expected from curators and librarians, evaluating and acquiring information.

Much of the following comes from Searching and Researching on the Internet and the World Wide Web 5th Edition, by Hartman & Ackermann.

Evaluate Your Information Needs

Types of Information Most Likely Found on the Internet and the World Wide Web

Current information. Many major newspapers, broadcasting networks, and popular magazines have Web sites that provide news updates throughout the day. Current Financial and weather information also is easily accessible.

Government information. Most federal, state, and local government agencies provide statistics and other information freely and in a timely manner. Most foreign governments provide official information as well.

Popular culture. It’s easy to find information on the latest movie or best-selling book.

Open access literature. Works such as Shakespeare’s plays, the Bible, Canterbury Tales, and thousands of other full-text literary resources are available. More and more academic journals are being published on the Internet in all subjects. Read more about the open access in “Open Access Movement,” by Peter Suber.

Business and company information. Not only do many companies provide their Web pages and annual reports, but several Internet-based databases also provide in-depth financial and other information about companies.

Consumer information. The Internet is a virtual gold mine of information for people interested in buying a particular item and who want opinions from other people about it. With access to everything from automobile reviews on the Web to Usenet newsgroups, consumers can find out about almost any item before they buy it.

Medical information. In addition to the hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, and nonprofit organizations that publish excellent sources of medical information, the National Library of Medicine freely provides the PUBMED database to the public.

Entertainment. The Web is the first place many people go to find games, audio files, and video clips.

Software. The Web hosts software archives in which you can search for and download software to your computer without cost.

Unique archival sites. To take one example, the Library of Congress archives Americana in its American Memory collection.

Comparing Search Engines, Meta-search Tools, & Directories

Search engines Meta-search tools Directories
  • These attempt to index as much of the Web as possible.
  • Most are full-text databases.
  • Many require knowledge
    of search techniques to
    guarantee good results.
  • They are most often used
    for multifaceted or obscure
  • They search very large
    databases that are created by computer programs and are updated regularly.


  • Some allow you to search several search engines simultaneously.
  • Some supply lists of databases that can be searched directly from their pages.
  • They provide a good way to keep up with new search engines.
  • They may not fully exploit the features of individual search engines, so keep your search simple.


  • These contain topic lists of selected resources, usually hierarchically arranged.
  • Most resources in these tools have been evaluated carefully.
  • They can be browsed or searched by keyword.
  • They contain links to specialized databases and subject guides.

ipl2: Information You Can Trust, Infomine, Intute,Library SpotOpen Directory Project ,

A Checklist to Help You Choose the Right Tool

Search engines and meta-search tools should be consulted when looking for the following:

  • Obscure information
  • Multifaceted topics
  • A large amount of information on a particular topic from different perspectives

Search engines and meta-search tools should not be used to find the following:

  • News that happened yesterday or even last week. You’d be better off going to a specialized database that is updated daily or weekly.
  • Information in a particular form, such as journal or newspaper articles. You’d be better off searching a specialized database that focuses on the format
  • Someone’s telephone number or email address. Certain services focus specifically on this type of information. Maps. There are special databases for maps, too.

Directories are most useful for finding the following:

  • An overview of a topic.
  • Evaluated resources.
  • Facts such as population statistics or country information.
  • A specialized database for specific or very recent information.

Databases at UMW

  • UMW Library, like many libraries, offers online access to a number of databases. These databases often lead to links to peer-reviewed, scholarly publications and periodicals.
  • It is also important to note that the Library offers several guides to periodicals and doing research.

Using a site to maintain a collection of works to cite

Collection and citation tools

Hands-On Activity

  • Start Firefox
  • View Go to “Zotero – Quick Start Guide,”
  • Open another browser tab or window and go to the UMW Library information about using  Zotero. Read   the section on Zotero and UMW Library Catalogs.
  • Open another tab or browser window, go to and register for an account
  • Click on Tools in the menu bar, select Add-ons, find Zotero, click on preferences, and then log into your Zotero account.
  • Work on the Web researching the topic of your paper and save some materials in your Zotero account. Be sure to sync with the Zotero server before you leave.

Thing 2 – Microblogging

Monday, May 21st, 2012

About Microblogging

Microblogging is a form of communication that allows users to publish short pieces (usually 140 characters) of content on the Internet. The content may include text and/or links to articles, pictures, videos, or other types of media. Microbloggers create profiles and post information that others may or may not “follow.”  Twitter is currently the most popular microblogging tool.

It allows users to send and read other users’ updates (otherwise known as tweets).  A user sends a tweet  to their Twitter account using the Twitter Web site, Web-enabled cell phone, or through another Web-based application. A very few countries allow tweets to be sent via SMS (short message system). The tweets are displayed on the user’s profile page and delivered to

other users who have signed up to “follow” them.

Users can receive updates via the Twitter website, SMS (text messaging), RSS, or through applications such as TwitterMobileTweet DeckFacebook, and Twidget.

Twitter has inspired other micro-blogging sites, including  Yammer (seeWikipedia’s list of other micro-blogging services), as well as many third-party applications, ultimately making the service easier to use as well as wildly more popular.

How Does Twitter Work?

Signing up for a Twitter account is free:

Twitter users can have “followers” to their post, or “follow” others’ posts.

Posts can appear on the Twitter home page for all to see, or posts can be made private, sent only to groups of friends. Twitter groups, trends and tags can be seen on

To access information relayed via Twitter, use the Twitter search engine:

There is also a “Yellow Pages” directory for Twitter:

Twitter’s Impact on Research: Searching the Live Web

While Twitter began as a tool primarily used by individuals to let others in their community know what they were doing, it has grown to be a significant communication tool for institutions, companies, journalists (including “citizen” journalists documenting local news they have witnessed), and more.  Some recent events such as the Iranian election ,  the 2010 earthquake in Haiti,  and the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan show the power of Twitter to document events that the mainstream media is unable to cover.  By searching Twitter traffic using, we can follow live breaking news stories as they happen.  At any time of the day or night Twitter is capturing news.  The news may be as  mundane as a traffic jam on a major thoroughfare, or as tragic as a tsunami in Japan, but for those affected by an event, any news may be important.

An Important Caveat:

While Twitter traffic may be useful for research, you can’t rely on the information to be authoritative or even truthful.   It’s important to evaluate the information that is posted and not rely on it without first investigating its veracity.

Learn More About It


Watch the Common Craft Videos:

Cheat Sheet and Articles to Read

Hands on Activities

1. Sign up for a personal Twitter account at Click on “Sign up now” and follow the directions.

After signing up your account, for more information about how to use Twitter, see:

2. You can protect their tweets so that only those who you approve to follow you can see what you are tweeting. This will prevent spammers from viewing your account and keep your tweets protected from those who you do not want to see your account.

  • >Go to “Settings” in the top right hand corner.
  • Under the “Account” tab scroll down to the bottom of the page and click the “Protect my tweets” box.
  • Once this is checked whenever someone tries to follow you, you will receive notification that requires you to approve their viewing of your profile.

3.  Find a friend or a news agency or other publication that you’d like to follow.

  • Type in a friend’s name, college or university, media site, or library that you would like to follow.
  • Choose who you would like to follow by clicking on the “Follow” button on the top left of your screen.
  • Now every tweet that this person or institution posts will appear in your timeline to view.

4. Search Twitter for events happening in country other than the U.S.
Go to to access Twitter Search. Type in a topic with a country’s name to see the real time tweets that people are posting about this subject. An example would be, “afghanistan NATO” or “italy earthquake” After clicking on “search” you will be shown all of the real time tweets that people are posting on this topic.

5. Report on your blog what you found.

CPSC 104. Class 1, Summer 2012

Sunday, May 20th, 2012

15 Things about Web 2.0

Web 2.0 is the way of using the `Web so that we contribute to the Web and participate in the sharing of information – text, images, audio files, videos – in ways that build communities. Some say that it demonstrates a read/write culture, with individuals receiving (reading) information and individuals producing (writing) information sharing it with friends, family, or anyone on the Internet or part of an online community. When you think about it, television and radio are read-only. Newspapers that incorporate letters to the editor are read-write.   We’ll be looking at 15 things on the Internet that enable this notion of read-write culture.

They are

  • Thing 1 – Blogs
  • Thing 2 – Microblogging
  • Thing 3 – Social Networking
  • Thing 4 – Wikis
  • Thing 5 – Research Tools
  • Thing 6 – Evaluating Information on the Web
  • Thing 7 – Sharing Photos and Images
  • Thing 8 – Virtual Worlds
  • Thing 9 – Podcasting
  • Thing 10 – Videos
  • Thing 11 – Social Bookmarking & Tagging
  • Thing 12 – Sharing Documents in the Cloud
  • Thing 13 – RSS
  • Thing 14 – Forums & Web Boards
  • Thing 15 -Awareness Tools

About the Internet

About copyright

For class Tuesday:

Create a blog  on

Send me the title and  URL of your blog

Take the quiz

Howstuffworks “Fact or Fiction: the Internet”

and write about your opinion of the quiz and how you did.

Thing 1 – Blogs

Sunday, May 20th, 2012

About Blogs & Blogging

A blog is a frequently updated Web page that contains links to resources, personal commentaries, and opinions. In the mid-1990s, when blogs first made their appearance on the Web, there were maybe a few dozen in existence. According to Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere 2008, there are over 133 million blogs. In 2004, the number was around 4.3 million.


Take a look at  “WHO: Bloggers, Brands and Consumers – Day 1 SOTB 2010,” to read some descriptive statistics about who is blogging. If you have your own blog, then where do you fit in to those statistics?

According to Wired Magazine, Jorn Berger coined the phrase “weblog” in 1997. The Economist wrote in 2006 that “in 1999, another user, Peter Merholz, playfully broke the word into ‘we blog’, and somehow the new term—blog—stuck as both a verb and a noun.” Justin Hall is referred to as the “the founding father of personal blogging.” (

One of the reasons why blogs have become so popular is the simplicity of publishing them. There is no need for the author to know HTML, and there are free blog automated publishing tools, such as Blogger,, that make it easy for anyone to create a blog. Blogs are often defined as personal online journals, operated by individuals who compile lists of links and comment on these links to provide information that interests them, with new links on the top of the page, and older ones at the bottom. Recently, however, blogging culture has grown to include political campaigns, institutions such as libraries and museums, and virtually any entity that wants to create a community of interest around particular topics.

Blogs are also a good way to uncover news that the regular media cannot or will not cover. It is important to keep in mind that because virtually anyone can publish a blog, you must evaluate the information the blogger has provided. Make sure you can verify the author’s credentials before relying on the information that he or she has published.

How does blogging work?

There are many free, highly customizable platforms, including the most popular:

To compare blogging platforms by criteria including hosting features or system requirements, use

To search blog contents, use a blog search engine:

Much of the value of a blog is in the interaction between the author and the readers and among the readers. This takes place in the comments section of any blog post.


Videos & Articles about blogs and blogging



For You to Do:

  • Read the Wikipedia entry on the topic “blog.” Make a list of at least three things that you learned about blogs from reading the entry.
  • Post those three things as a blog entry to your blog.
  • Post your blogging experiences as a comment to this blog post.

Ask me a question.
Links for images:

If we have time. – Nicholas Carr: The Shallows on the Colbert Report, June 30 2010.  (about 5 minutes)

About the Internet

Sunday, May 20th, 2012

Some videos of interest:

A history of the Web: How the Web was won

A quiz for you to try:

Class Photo – Summer 2011

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

Norm Shafer came by to take a pic of me for a piece in the alumni magazine. While in the class we asked him to take a group picture.

Here it  is.

CPSC 104 Class Photo Summer 2011, Taken by Norm Shafer

Shirley Martey, Alan Liddell, Philip Allison, Ernest Ackermann, John Jolissant, and Stephanie Boudreau