Hoax Sites, Good or Bad?

While searching the for football information one afternoon a few years back I came across a very interesting website, which is quite funny but makes itself seem like a Wikipedia page with player “info”. This site, Sports Argument Wiki is quite possibly the funniest website I have ever been on, but even though the information on it is obviously false, if an uneducated sports fan saw it, they could be fooled by the site.

SAS wiki as it is called is a complete joke and it has a disclaimer on the front page saying that it shouldn’t be taken seriously which is great because readers then know going into it what they are looking at, the problem with satirical sites like this is that they don’t always have a disclaimer. The difference between the two New York Times sites is obviously the content, but they look identical in almost every sense. It would be hard for a person to tell the difference between the sites unless they look at the date or web address.

I found more information about the false New York Times page and along with the website they also handed out over a million fake printed copies of the New York Times in New York City. This has to scare people both involved in the newspaper industry and avid readers because these copies look almost perfect and people could obviously be fooled by them. The New York Times is one of the largest newspapers in the United States, if they can be copied so easily, what does that mean for every other newspaper in the US?

Hoax sites are meant to be used as a joke and a majority of people will see that immediately and laugh it off and move on, but when they are done as well as the fake New York Times site then it can become dangerous. If a site continually updated false stories in a professional manner, it could take a while for people to realize what is going on, and could inevitably ruin the reputation of a large respected paper like the New York Times.

This is a problem with the web obviously, but most people take jokes like this with a grain of salt, and as long as we do that then we will be ok. It’s ok for people to question what they read and I think jokes like this help people to remember that. Besides the paper being copied, people shouldn’t get mad at something like this, instead they should have fun and pass it on to a friend to enjoy the joke.

Does Content Not On The Web Exist?

I’m going to let you ponder this question: If it isn’t on the Web, does it exist? Personally I cant think of many companies that are reasonably successful that aren’t on the Web in some form or the other. They either have a Yellow Pages ad online or have a website that is updated frequently to keep customers informed. There are obviously thousands of companies that are small and don’t need a website, but then they don’t exist to the people outside of their general community.

I can’t personally remember the last time I picked up an actual Yellow Pages to look up the information about a company. I am more inclined to Google the name of what I want and see if it has a website or a listing online. This is a problem because I won’t go through the extra trouble of flipping through a Yellow Pages if I can’t find something through a Google search. I know there are plenty of people out there that are like me, we rely solely on sites like Google that anything that we cant find on there doesn’t exist in our world.

This doesn’t refer to companies alone, books and journals that we cant find online are foreign to us because we pretty much everything we need we can find through a Google search. I was able to simply Google Andrew Keens Book The Cult Of The Amateur and find almost a complete copy of the book. Web 2.0 users can find almost any piece of literature they choose simply by Googling it. I still buy books without Googling them, but I feel that it would help me decide whether I want to spend money on a book if I could first preview a little bit of the book online first. These electronic representations of books exist to aggressive web users while their printed counterparts are a thing of the past to them.

Companies and non-profit associations also are beginning to embrace social networking sites and blogs to make them more available to the Web 2.0 generation. The American Cancer Society has active blogs on its website along with a Relay For Life in Second Life. This is an example of how they are making sure they “exist” outside of their normal boundaries. People all over the world can participate in the Relay For Life in Second Life.

I think that it is getting to the point where companies without a major presence on the web can and will be left behind, but I don’t feel that it will affect small mom and pop companies as much as large multinational organizations. Small businesses will be able to get by fine without having a large Web presence but someday, in the distant future, everything will be on the Web and companies and products without significant Web presence will be ultimately lost.

The Times They Are a-Changin’

I was taught at a young age how to do basic tasks on a computer; this was far before I had ever heard of the Internet. Computer class consisted of typing with our hands covered so we didn’t have to look at the keyboard and playing The Oregon Trail. Though this may seem very basic and completely irrelevant to what we don on computers today, I feel it laid the grown work for my relative ease into Internet life.

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to grow up around computers and have them in my classrooms but not so many people were as fortunate. Older generations and even young people who didn’t have the opportunity to learn about computers and the Internet at a young age are now struggling because the job market is so competitive. People educated on computers have a leg up when interviewing for jobs because companies don’t want to have to train a future employee to do even basic tasks.

To help people who have recently lost their jobs due to the economic problems in our country libraries and other institutions are beginning to set up workshops to teach people basic skills. Obviously this isn’t new, but there is a large surge of people who now need to learn basic skills because they may have lost their job that never required computer skills before.

I think most people need to have some form of familiarity with the Internet and with computers in general. Times are changing and people need to keep up with them because there is a chance that you can get left behind. Computers dominate business now and without basic skills people will continue to struggle to find work.

Another interesting thought is whether or not people should be trained to use social media and social networking. Social media is becoming huge on the Internet whether it is Facebook or Twitter it is everywhere now. These sites can benefit companies greatly but I feel that not every employee needs to know how to use them, but should at least be familiar with what they are.

Like I stated earlier, times are changing and people need to be able to keep up with them or they will be left behind. Children need to be taught at an early age to use computers so that they have basic skills to get them through life. It will get to the point where not having basic computer and Internet skills will be like being illiterate.

To read or not to read?

It used to be that people would wake up in the morning, get their morning paper, and read it during breakfast or throughout the day. For the majority of people this isn’t the case anymore, instead of going through the morning people they skim the homepage of their paper and pick out stories that they are interested in.

No longer are people reading the paper section by section until they are finished, we are in a day where people will skim a story that is interesting online and read what they care about most. People aren’t getting the full experience of reading a newspaper and getting to know everything that is going both around their community and around the country.

There is so much content available on the web that people are beginning to substitute this content for actual books and I feel are missing out on the essence of how rewarding reading a book actually is. To be honest, I don’t like to read online, it is annoying, hurts my eyes, and I can never get comfortable when looking at a computer screen. But to hold a book in my hand is one of the most relaxing things I think I could ever do. I agree with Kim Krause Berg that reading a book and reading on the Internet are worlds apart.


This isn’t to say that technology wont ever progress enough to give a reader a good experience when reading either online or through a e-reader, im just saying it isn’t here now. Writer Victor Keegan has a different view, while originally against electronic readers, he read an entire book on an I-pod touch and said that it was “in key ways it was a much more efficient way of reading.”

Electronic reading is interesting to me; I will hopefully be able to read a book on some form of electronic device other than a computer soon. Technology is always progressing but I never see people completely abandoning books for electronic readers.

Take It, Take Another Piece Of Me

I feel like I have sold my soul to Facebook! They have the rights to all the content I currently have on my page, even if I choose to delete it. I cannot be the only one who has a problem with this, but now there is really nothing that can be done because I have agreed to the terms of use.

Facebook has the right to use their users content if they see fit, they can use your images as if they are their own. This seems like it over steps the boundary of what a website should do. College students use this site to keep in touch with friends, but little did we know that we were signing away so many of our rights. Facebook can literally take your image and use it in advertising as described in the link above. Had I known this originally I would have never signed up for Facebook.

If we stopped to read the terms of use policy though, I don’t think many people would understand it anyway. The terminology is very technical and I don’t understand it. That is where the problem is, we either start reading it and its too technical or we don’t even bother and just click I agree and move on. I think that they should just straight up tell us what is going on, maybe have a simple version so that we can actually know what we are looking at.

This problem doesn’t only affect Facebook though, a lot of stuff you do online is saved and can be archived. One thing I never thought about was simple instant messenger conversations. Obviously people can save what you say on those, but some programs even archive your conversations. Google Talk automatically saves your conversations to your Gmail account unless you go into the settings and turn it off. A lot of people probably don’t know this and could get in trouble because their conversations are being saved. Obviously Google isn’t claiming the rights to what you say, but this stuff is being kept around without you knowing about it and it could come back to haunt you when you least expect it.

The point is, know what your signing up for, Facebook doesn’t have to make major changes because people are still signing up without knowing what they are really doing. It sucks, but what is a little piece of your privacy if you can stay connected with your best friend from kindergarten.

Think before you add

“Hey, aren’t you in one of my classes? Wait which class? Really, why have we never talked before? Lets take a picture, then find me on Facebook and I will tag you.”

This is a typical bar conversation in Chico, and can be overheard almost every night of the week. This has a point though, just because you meet someone once at a bar or party that you happen to have class with do this automatically make you friends? Probably not, these people haven’t changed you or in anyway impacted your life, well other than buying you that drink that may have put you over the edge that night. So why would you want them adding you on Facebook and tagging pictures of you for everyone to see?

People are becoming too loose with what they are allowing on their Facebook profiles and MySpace pages and need to think twice before adding bar pictures or party pictures for everyone to see. Social network profiles are beginning to have long running consequences for students who are entering the job market and even now parents are getting in trouble because of their kids pages.

All I am saying is you need to be careful when it comes to social networks and what you choose to let people see. Sure party pictures are fun to look at among friends, but they don’t need to be put out there for everyone you know to see. This topic has been beaten into the ground but it is still important for people to know. I am guilty of having a Facebook and MySpace with questionable pictures, but I have been trying to clean both up and keep them for only friends to look at.

If the thought of future employers looking at your drunken pictures doesn’t scare you, then be afraid of the possible health risks of spending too much time online or on your social networking profiles.

Community: Real or Virtual?

Growing up, I lived in a neighborhood where generally people looked out for each other and were friends. My friends and I couldn’t get away with anything without our parents knowing almost instantly what we were up too. This to me is the definition of a community, a group of people that look out for one another.

Whether on the Internet or around a neighborhood, communities are set up to spur conversation about common interests or to protect each other. If people are down on their luck, you should come together to help those people out. Whether it is coming together to support a community bank that is in trouble or having a community health center that provides discount health services for community members who are in need. These are essential for communities to thrive.

The Internet may not be a physical community or neighborhood but in a sense it acts the same way. Gaming communities can come together to mourn a loss of a person and even set up a memorial fund in that persons honor. People involved in online communities may have never met each other in person, but still have a strong bond that connects them the same way neighborhoods bond together.

The main idea here is helping each other, surviving on your own is hard and sometimes you need people to help you out and pick you up. Communities provide that because they are the people that are around you on a daily basis. It can be on the Internet or in person, as long as the people feel a connection and friendships grow out of it I don’t see the difference.

I don’t personally belong to any internet communities other than Facebook, but have heard stories from friends who play online games or are on message boards and feel a close connection with the people they interact with daily on there. They feel that those people understand them more than their neighbors or people they attend school with.

Communities are essential in our world; it is basic human nature to want to surround yourself with people you trust and feel a bond with. With today’s economy and the fact that people are struggling to just get by, they are even more essential. There are no basic guidelines for a community, but most people realize when they are part of one.

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