Archive for the ‘teaching’ Category

Class 6. Summer 2012. CPSC 104

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

A few videos to consider:

On to Thing 6 – Evaluating Information Found on the Web

Thing 4: Wikis

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

What’s a wiki?

A wiki is software that one or more people use to write and edit documents on the Web. The

wikiwiki, CC License

software is designed to be easy to use, and easy for people to cooperate in preparing materials. The collection of information put together with this type of software is also called a wiki.

The first wiki was developed by Ward Cunningham. The story goes that he remembered a Honolulu International Airport counter employee telling him to take the “Wiki” shuttle bus that runs between the airport’s terminals. According to Cunningham, “I chose wiki-wiki as an alliterative substitute for ‘quick’ and thereby avoided naming this stuff quick-web. ”

The most famous wiki is Wikipedia, a project started by Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger in 2001. Wikipedia is easy to search, and the information in articles with references or citations can be checked for accuracy. The project has over 3 million articles contributed by people throughout the world. At the time of this writing it has been translated into over 200 languages. Take a look at “Wikipedia: Statistics” for details.

There are several other special-purpose wikis such as Travelerspoint, a traveler’s wiki, Jurispedia, dedicated to world-wide law, and the collection Entertainment Wikis

A public wiki is likely to be indexed by one of the major search engines so results from wikis often come up in searches using a general-purpose search engine.

Usually, each wiki page has a subject, and the entire collection of pages within a wiki can be searched by keyword. By contributing to a wiki you are adding your knowledge to the Web, which makes it a richer and more informative resource. In some wikis, editors need to register to obtain a login and password in order to edit it. In others, there is no such requirement. In Wikipedia, for example, most pages can be edited by anyone, but having an account makes it more likely that your contributions will not be deleted by someone else. Wikis can be private or public.

One of the most famous wikis is Wikipedia, a collaborative encyclopedia with millions of entries on a wide variety of topics. Thousands of people throughout the world continue to create and edit its content.

How do they work?

A wiki allows anyone to easily update and upload content on the site, typically providing a simplified interface allowing editing, page creation, and collaborative writing.

  • Most wikis allow you to see the history of page changes. This is useful when you’d like to go back and see what a page looked like before. The page history shows the name of the person who edited the page if they have a login name attached to the content update. It’s also a way for people to republish information that may have been deleted inappropriately or incorrectly.
  • Some wiki software is WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) enabled. This means that a person can add information easily without knowing any special markup language. Other wiki software has markup language that one has to learn. Usually if there is markup language the wiki will provide a user guide to help you.
  • Some wikis software allows you to tag the wiki pages with subject keywords. These keywords can sometimes appear in tag clouds

There are many free, highly customizable platforms, including the popular Wikispaces

You can find many types of wiki software at WikiMatrix.  Some are hosted, while some require download to your computer. Wikimatrix provides a “Wiki Choice Wizard” that helps you pick and compare software packages that have features that you need.

Things to read and see


1. Explore Wikipedia. What is on the main page? Determine the copyright status of the material in Wikipedia.

2. In doing some research I came across the article “Unearthing the Truth About Organic Food,” by Dennis T. and Alex A. Avery, and it’s posted on a Web site produced by the Center for Global Food Issues (CGFI). Use Wikipedia to find information about CGFI. Then use Wikipedia to see who the major sponsors of the group that supports the projects of CGFI.

3. Try your hand at editing a Wiki page. I’ve sent each student an invitation (to their UMW email address) to join in the wiki  at Accept the invitation. Working with another person try your hand at one of these.

  • Things to do this summer
  • Improvements to UMW
  • Things that are done well at UMW
  • The future of the Internet.

Thing 3: Social Networking

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012
social networking

About Social Networking

Social networking sites offer ways to not only create an online presence, but also to find others online and to establish links to one’s own personal online ‘social network.’ The social network is based around creating links of friendship to others online within the social networking community, which is reflected in social networking site names such as “Friendster.”

Six Degrees, which began in 1997 and shut down in 2001, was one of the earliest social networking sites (the name is from “six degrees of separation,” from a “small world” experiment by Yale University psychologist Dr. Stanley Milgram on social interconnectedness in 1967). Among the largest and best known sites are Facebook and MySpace, but there are also others such as Plurk. Some social networking sites are especially popular in particular countries such as Google’s Orkut, which is heavily used in Brazil; others focus on a particular interest area such as business and professional networking at Linked In, or a variety of other hobbies and shared interests at Ning and MeetUp.

As we think about social networking beyond the technology we can think that the topic of social networking is more profound than the applications we use. Here are two TED talks that amplify the notion of social networking.

How Does It Work?

Users of social networking sites register an account and then complete a profile page. Once this is done, a variety of social networking and linking options become available such as finding and ‘friending’ (establishing reciprocal links with) other users, joining a group, and/or becoming a ‘fan’ of another user. Users can post daily updates about themselves and see updates about their friends; they can also visit friends’ pages, send messages, and post comments. For some users, social networking is replacing e-mail for many of their communications.

While many sites focus around online social interaction, on other sites such as MeetUp, users can find and join groups which schedule local area activities, such as hikes, bicycling, or discussions. Some sites such as Facebook and Myspace feature ability to add customizations, plugins and widgets such as for playing online games, videos, music, and showing artworks or book collections.


A number of concerns have been raised dealing with the expectation of privacy in these social networks,a nd the amount of privacy guaranteed.

One the one hand, some groups (typically the over-30 crowd) raise concerns about the notion of exposing one’s name, email address, interests, groups to others – some known, some unknown – within a social network implemented via technology such as Facebook. They balk at having a lower expectation of privacy in these environments than in their traditional  networks. Others though, readily join the Facebook and other Internet networks and give out personal information without giving it a second thought, or so it seems. The following articles address these issues.

Most recently Facebook changed the way it deals with what some thought was private or personal information. They put practices into place that were contrary to the expectation of privacy of Facebook’s members.

Hands On

Take a look at Plurk, Ning and MeetUp and write a summary of their differences.

Read these articles regarding privacy on Facebook.
A Bill of Privacy Rights for Social Network Users

If you don’t have a Facebook account, create one.

As a member of Facebook examine your privacy settings based on the recommendations and concerns in the articles listed above.

Write a blog post about social networking after completing the items above.

CC License for image above / CC BY 2.0

A bit about copyright

Sunday, May 20th, 2012

What is the notion of copyright?

Copyright was invented after the advent of the printing press and subsequent widening of public literacy.

The right by law to be the entity which determines who may publish, copy and distribute a piece of writing, music, picture or  other work of authorship.

U.S. Constitution.

Article 1, section 8

To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;
On August 13, 1813, Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to Isaac McPherson which included part of this debate.
If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me.
The full letter explains in a very eloquent way the fact that intangibles such as ideas are entirely different from physical/tangible things.

So where are we now?

Copyright basics are here at the Library of Congress,

Creative Commons was set up to provide copyright licenses that allow for sharing and reuse without explicitly asking for permission

Examples of  CC licenses  at –

Lawrence Lessig gives a great talk about copyright