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Conceptual Research & Reflection Project

Concept 8: The invisibility of difference.

"The daily practice of electronic communication is shaped by over-familiarity with one's own computer system, and a tendency to assume that - as with much more established forms of communication - everyone is operating within compatible and similar systems. When in doubt, seek to communicate in ways that are readable and effective for all users, regardless of their particular systems." (Allen, n.d.)

Humans all share a common set of 'hardware' that we utilise in face-to-face communications in the physical environment. Each participant has a set of communication 'tools' that we can easily recognise in the other participants. There are facial expresisions, gestures and spoken words, which are coloured by voice tone and inflection, pauses and colloquialisms (Fielding, 1999). We all have these things 'in-built ' into us - they are our hardware so to speak. If we come across someone who has some variation in their 'hardware' i.e. hearing-, visually-impaired or from another country that doesn't share our language, all participants will generally compensate in some way.

When communicating over the internet however, an individual has an additional set of hardware to work with. The key difference here is that not everyone has the same set of computer hardware and/or software. This is something that the majority, if not all, internet users will be able to recognise. Quite often people are aware that their friends may have different screen resolutions and internet speed connections. But if we explore this a bit more the fact is the differences do not end there. There are differences in how we view or emails (online, within a software package, as HTML or text-only), the programs we use to chat to people (MSN Live Messenger, Yahoo Instant Messenger and AOL Instant Messenger all offer the fuction of adding friends who use different instant chat programs, and then there are other programs such as Digsby that go further and incorporate Facebook chat and online email notifications). As for browser software - the latest market share data from Net Applications shows that so far this year Internet Explorer users account for ~68%, while Firefox users account for ~22%. That can be interpreted as, out of every five people you know who use the internet, one is using use Firefox instead of Internet Explorer.

Now one may think "So what if they use a different screen resolution/connection speed/email or chat client/browser? We are all looking at the same thing..."

Well that may be, but the use of different hardware/operating systems and software has an impact on the effectiveness of internet communication. The differences between the systems individuals use to communicate over the internet impacts upon personal and professional productivity (Booth, 1989).

But what about compensating for these differences? Since these differences are generally not conciously taken into account by the average internet user, as they are not readily seen (hence the invisibility of difference), this factor of internet communication is likely to pervade internet use for much time to come. its consideration however, is within the domain of effective web developers who are responsible for the design of the tools we use to communicate via the internet.

Further Reading
Site 1: Booth, P.A. (1989). An Introduction to Human-computer Interaction. Psychology Press: Milton Park, U.K. 268pp./Link/

Booth's introduction to Human-Computer Interfaces provides a good overview of the issues caused by difficulties in between users and their hardware from a historical point of view. Its not just a simple issue of not being able to read a friend's email because they did all this fancy stuff in HTML. There are wide reaching implications for productivity.
The greater part of the text focuses on the human-computer interaction as opposed to human-computer-computer-human interaction however its a worthwhile read in terms of becoming familiar with the issues in how we communication with computers and thus the internet.

Site 2: Title/Link/
Evaluation, significance/usefulness/relationship, credibility...

Allen, M (et al). (n.d.), Internet Communications Concepts Document, Curtin University of Technology.
Anon. (n.d.) Browser Market Share Report by www.netapplications.comhttp://marketshare.hitslink.com/browser-market-share.aspx?qprid=0 Report generated Thursday, February 05, 2009 10:49:12 PM
Booth, P.A. (1989). An Introduction to Human-computer Interaction. Psychology Press: Milton Park, U.K. 268pp.
Fielding, R. (1999). Human Communication and the Design of the Modern Web Architecture. In Proceedings of WebNet World Conference on the WWW and Internet 1999 (p. 7). Chesapeake, VA: AACE.

Concept 17: The impact of text-based and real-time chat.

"Communicating in real-time with text enables a form of 'authoring of the self' that is similar to the processes of face-to-face speech but which is much more amenable to authorial control, experimentation and reflection. Further, text-based communication carries with it the possibility for multiple, differing conversations occurring simultaneously, relying on the ability of the human brain to deal with text much better than speech." (Allen, n.d.)

Discussion & Reflection

Further Reading
Site 1: Title/Link/
Evaluation, significance/usefulness/relationship, credibility...

Site 1: Title/Link/
Evaluation, significance/usefulness/relationship, credibility...

Allen, M (et al). (n.d.), Internet Communications Concepts Document, Curtin University of Technology.




Concept 20: Active communication generates identity awareness.

"One can only generate awareness of one's membership of an email list by posting messages; others' awareness of your identity will enable them to include you in their discussions and enable you to play your part in the community that is the list" (Allen, n.d.)


Discussion & Reflection

Further Reading
Site 1: Title/Link/
Evaluation, significance/usefulness/relationship, credibility...

Site 1: Title/Link/
Evaluation, significance/usefulness/relationship, credibility...

Allen, M (et al). (n.d.), Internet Communications Concepts Document, Curtin University of Technology.



Concept 21: Threading

"Threading is what makes discussion groups - either Usenet news groups or, for example, this unit's discussion group - so valuable for enabling complex inter-flows of communication to take place in a manner that allows us to see the pattern of conversation and response." (Allen, n.d.)


Discussion & Reflection

Further Reading
Site 1: Title/Link/
Evaluation, significance/usefulness/relationship, credibility...

Site 1: Title/Link/
Evaluation, significance/usefulness/relationship, credibility...

Allen, M (et al). (n.d.), Internet Communications Concepts Document, Curtin University of Technology.

Internet Tools - Traceroute Task

What to do

For ease of use, and because free versions of internet tools are constantly changing this task only requires you to visit a site. (If however you would like to explore further, follow the instructions below).

First visit this site explaining traceroute

Next find a site that provides the common internet tools (traceroute, ping) some examples include http://centralops.net/co/ or http://network- tools.com/

Using the traceroute tool, answer the following questions:

Traceroute from the chosen site to curtin.edu.au - cut and paste the entire list of 'hops' from there to Curtin.

How many ‘hops’ are there?

what is the average time in milliseconds from the tools site to the curtin server?

For this task I started out using http://network- tools.com/
My first two attempts with this timed out after going through 11 routers or 'hops'. I got the timed out message after reaching the host gw1.er1.curtin.cpe.aarnet.net.au and this was on average after 123.5 ms (average of 247 ms round trip).

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I then went looking for another traceroute site and used http://network.fasthit.net/ for my third attempt. Interestingly, it only took 5 'hops' to get to gw1.er1.curtin.cpe.aarnet.net.au instead of 11, and this traceroute tool actually got through to the curtin.edu.au host on the 6th 'hop'. The average time to reach a curtin.edu.au server was 1.234 ms. Now I'm wondering is this 'faster' time is real or is there a decimal point missing from the data output of my first two attempts? And if it really is faster - why? Is there such a thing as a better connected set of routers?

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File Transfer Protocol Task

First you need an FTP client for your computer. The two we recommend are FileZilla (for Windows - free) and Fetch (for Macs - free). Download and install and then explore one for your system

PC: FileZilla FileZilla Download page
Mac: Fetch Fetch Download page

For help, make sure you check out the the help files for either program and consult the programs website. For general help on what ftp is you can take a look at a Quick Introduction to FTP its a great general intro to ftp and would be useful for both mac and pc users alike

Next: You are to ftp to recall.curtin.edu.au . You will use anonymous login. When there:

Look at the directory structure.

Find the file called README

Then download the file, look at it and answer the following question

"according to the readme file, '_______ MATTERS' - what word goes in the blank?".

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Turns out CAPITALIZATION matters. Which then lead me on a thorough search of all the files on the server for a file named README.txt as opposed to the readme.txt I originally opened. Of course logic would say the first file provided my answer so why would it be the incorrect file? Go figure - I can be pedantic sometimes.

I have used Filezilla before and since I also play around in Dreamweaver with my brother's website I have actually used ftp a fair amount, uploading & downloading files from his website server.


Telnet Tasks

...in this task, we are going to learn about telnet for a very important purpose, perhaps the main one that 'information seekers' rather than programmers need to use: logging on remotely to a library computer to access its records. The aim is to show you what can be achieved by using a more traditional information system, rather than 'the web'.

What to Do
First you need a telnet client for your computer

I tried entering telnet:// into my browser address bar - I use Firefox and this resulted in a prompt to indicate which program to run the 'application' with. Well I thought maybe it had to be told to use Firefox but that didn't work. Rather than search through my computer programs to find the correct program to run the application I decide to just google a 'telnet client' in Firefox :P

I chose the first result that came up (original I know) which was PuTTY. Skimming a few lines of PuTTY's homepage I see that it is a free client written and maintained by a guy by the name of Simon Tatham. The homepage is no frills and has beta & testing info and updates and various links including a FAQ page and the download page. I click on the download page. Since I don't know what ssh is I am drawn to the telnet-only download PuTTYtel.

Incidentally some quick research reveals that ssh stands for Secure Shell, and is essentially a secure form of telnet from what I can figure. This highlights for me that telnet is not secure - basically it appears to be not unlike VHF/UHF radio communication: as long as you can tune into the channel (which anyone with the right equipment can) then you can listen in on anything.

Download and install your chosen client and then explore one for your system.

Next: You are to telnet to the Deakin library database computer. The address is library.deakin.edu.au.

The search will be done by author. Find books with the author name Bennahum then in the Options menu, choose print this title. You will then be prompted to enter an email address to which this record will be sent. Enter your curtin email address.

Having done a fair amount of searching through library databases over the years I appreciate simple yet effective ways to find what I am looking for.




Glossary of terms used throught out NET11 studies.



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Top Five Tips for New Bloggers

I've been playing around with blogs for a few years now and tried my hand a a couple of different services. So I suppose I should have a couple of tips by now for new bloggers. Hmmm, let's see...

1. Keep it simple.

Original I know :P I know others have used this one too but it really is a good place to start. When you get into blogging there are just so many options out there that it is easy to become overwhelmed and bogged down in the details. I think the best thing to do is set up your space as quickly and simply as possible and get blogging! Go for a layout that you like - you will no doubt initially be the person that looks at it the most. You don't need something like your blog layout distracting you from making entries.

When I started blogging I would (and still do to some extent) spend hours trying out new layouts, experiementing with blog titles and settings. You end up feeling like you have done heaps of work but do you have a post to show for it? Nope :D Most things can be tweaked later so don't be bugging over the details just as you are about to hope on the boat, so to speak.

2. Create an identity.

Ok, while I am all for keeping things simple, I do recommend creating an online identity that you are happy with, that lets people quickly identify with and to identifiy you by. This doesn't mean filling your profile page with your life story. People who I am interested in following on their blogs are quite often the ones with succint profiles covering what they're interested in and what they blog about. Personally I am yet to master this art but I am determined to dissect it and master it eventually.

And a little pointer when creating an identity - a user icon. If you end up being active within online communities, especially like LiveJournal, it helps to have a default icon and stick to it in the beginning. Until your 'friends' online get a feel for you and your user name, an icon will help people to quickly recognise you.

And this brings me to...

3. User name

Please don't use wingdings or excessive x's. In my opinion this is just lack of creativity. Or rather, that the user is actually 12 years old. A good user name, I believe is one that reflects the person's character and is something they take on as an actual name. You should 'own' it. Now I realise this isn't something that is easily achieved. I recommend thinking about something of personal relevance to you and possible words that you associate with it. And if you end up struggling, go with simplicity. For example, for this blog I have gone with hannah_net11. My reasoning is its my name and it is solely for use in this blog which has a very specific objective. That is, a log of my net11 studies. This is not however, the user name I would use about the interwebs. My preffered user name is vunadiwai - this is the native name of the place of my childhood. Thus it has personal significane and yet can roll off the tongue.

4. Try early on to catergorise your posts.

If this option is available in the blog service you use (and I believe most of them offer it these days) then do it. This will make things soooo much easier to refer back to at a later date. Alternatively, and possibly more importantly, your entry will not become lost in cyberspace over time. I have many an LJ entry wherein I did not tag and as a result they have become like notes written on scraps of paper and thrown into a large box. Its like their significance is diminished i.e. why would I want to recall that scrap.

5. Get involved!

I get the most out of a blog that I write when I know that others read it. And the best way to attract readers? Read other blogs and comment. How else are they to know that you took the time to read their work? To me its like karma - you get what you give in return. I would warn against commenting and then expecting the same in return (if that makes sense). Expecting someone to comment on every single post of yours just because you have done so on theirs isn't friendly. Its needy. When commenting, do so with a purpose and I believe you will attract readers with a similar approach to commenting.

As they say - comments are love :P