Sep
18

Free WiFi for ALL!

I don’t pay for internet access. I count myself among the lucky few in the nation that have a free wireless connection from the comfort of home.

If you’re having visions of me sitting at a desk or in a comfy chair, let me squash them now. My trade-off for free net access? I have to sit in my kitchen, perched on a stool in front of the microwave, a position not ergonomically correct in the least. On top of that, the connection is intermittent, and sometimes I have to walk a block into town to send an email. This is fine until it starts to rain, and then, well… things get a little soggy.

Comfortable? Not really. Convenient? No.

But! I, unlike most people around the world, have free Internet access.

The town of Carrboro, where I reside, is one of the few municipalities in the country that currently offers visitors and residents access to the web for free, but this trend is growing and becoming intelligent as well. The town of Corpus Christi, Texas not only provides free wi-fi to its residents, but also collects utility meter information in this way.

These intelligent networks will become even more important as technology continues to connect the entirety of the world in the coming decades, with the hope of fueling a global conversation that includes every nation, all the while driving home the growing importance of the hyperlocal economy. This idea of the hyperlocal is already beginning to emerge, as demonstrated by the overwhelming popularity of sites like Craigslist, which connects people to others in their geographic locality.

I do, of course, relinquish some of my privacy rights by using free public wi-fi, which may be a compromise that some are unwilling to make. Universal access, however, fulfills the holistic and most basic principle of the web: that of a collection of information that is easily accessible while providing a forum for conversation and connectivity, a right everyone deserves in this digital age.

The town of Carrboro could be tracking all the sites I visit from my microwave station. But I’ll take my chances.

Submitted by Linda Misiura, a student in Elon University’s Interactive Media Master’s Program.

Sep
17

The Strength of the Web as a Medium

What is the Web good for? How is the web different from other forms of media? How is it better? How is it worse?

These are all questions that have arisen during the past 40 years as the Web has emerged to become what we know it as today. But, how does the Web affect traditional media and how we as consumers get our information?

The Web might not have any unique characteristics, because it’s a medium that has adopted characteristics from all other media. Let’s explore a few. The Web allows us networking and communication. One of the first, central ideas of the Internet was that it would allow us to talk to anyone, anywhere at any time. No longer would we be restricted to time zones, location, etc. For the first time ever, anyone around the world with access to a computer could instantly connect with someone else thousands of miles away.

Another strength of the Web is its role as a leader in multimedia. With TV and movies now available on the Internet, watching the tube and heading to the movie theatre has lost some of its allure. Think about it, in an instant we have access to news, weather and entertainment all in a visual form of communication that’s easy to understand and entertaining!

Another aspect of the Web that makes it arguably stronger than any other form of media is its ability to house knowledge the whole world wide and deep! Where else can you gain access to information about art, history, geography, literature (and the list goes on!) in one place? No library, no university is big enough to compete with the database we have in the Internet.

These are just a few of the things that give the Web a strength no other medium can compete with. We have come so far in this media-driven world; sometimes it’s hard to remember where we once were. It’s important this year as we celebrate 40 years of the Internet to remember the knowledge and information the web has allowed us at our fingertips, or maybe with just a click of the mouse.

Submitted by Brynne Tuggle, a student in Elon University’s Interactive Media Master’s Program.

Sep
16

Overcoming the Digital Divide

The gap between those who have access to information technologies and those who do not is referred to as the digital divide. Our society has become so immersed and connected to the Internet, often it can appear as though the whole world is digitally connected and is on Facebook and making tweets on Twitter. The digital divide goes beyond connectivity and the notion that we are all digital citizens; socio-economic status is a major cause of the divide.

Not having a home computer or unlimited access to the Internet seems part of a distant world. But up until two weeks ago, I was a victim of the digital divide. I could not afford a computer, but I could not live without it. Being a part of an Interactive Media Graduate Program, makes a computer as important as breath is to life. If you’re not breathing you are unable to breathe life into the world and without a computer I was unable to breathe interactive change to the digital world.

With education being a vital organ; society’s heartbeat, and information technologies being the blood source of information, students with limited computer access are in critical condition of not being equipped with the tools they need to learn in a digital evolving world. Those who do not have access beyond the classrooms or the public libraries can be pronounced DOA.

The Internet is an ever-changing information source for those who can access it freely; for those without it, it is an everyday reminder of the struggle to survive in an ever changing world.

So what do we do?

We remember that information is free to those who can afford it and costly to those who cannot. So look at the digital divide a way to multiply resources to make everyone equal.

Submitted by Maria Rojas, a student in Elon University’s Interactive Media Master’s Program.

Sep
16

The Web for ALL – Bring the Power

The 3rd Annual One Web Day is less than two weeks away. In preparation for the event on September 22nd, I would like to share this online testimonial discussing the importance of bridging the digital divide and empowering Internet users to play a role in defining the future of this unbounded technology.

Submitted by David Hollander, a student in Elon University’s Interactive Media Master’s Program.

Sep
15

OneWebDay: On Fire!

Everyone always talks about the Internet in terms of connectivity.

Why?

It gives you the power to connect to friends, family and colleagues. It blows the doors open to new experiences, linking you up to opportunities you might have never envisioned. It stands alone as one of the largest, most evolved networks of growing knowledge known to mankind.

But forget about the whole idea of being connected.

It means nothing.

Unless you know what the Internet is.

It is:

– an inspiring video on how to achieve your childhood dreams.
– a trailer to a movie that makes you laugh every time you see it.
– a gateway to extraordinary music.
– a place to go for stories.
– a place to learn about heroes.

You’ve probably noticed by now that those links lead to people, places and things that mean something to me. They may not ever have an impact on your life.

But you now know me better, thanks to the Internet.

Yes, those links could change tomorrow. That’s the beauty of the Internet. It’s a mirror that reflects the world – every day.

You can be anyone on the Internet.

Lifesaver. Gift Giver. World-Changer. The list goes on.

Sure, these guises can be mistruths and aliases built toward deception. Any invention, has its positives and negatives.

However, I believe the Internet’s greatest potential lies within its ability to help people discover themselves and communicate their gifts to the world. And sometimes people will listen and embrace those gifts.

The Internet and interactive media let you reach out to a large audience and infuse them with what excites you. I equate it to starting a fire.

What can you offer that truly the captures attention of others – something that really catches fire and connects with people?

Yeah, so I lied.

Being connected does mean something.

It means knowing each other. And that means the ideas, videos, designs, writings and other concepts that truly catch fire on the Internet are from YOU. The real you.

So who are you?

Submitted by Dave Kennedy, a student in Elon University’s Interactive Media Master’s Program.

Sep
14

The Power of Access, Connection, Communication

Hello, Planet Earth. I mean, that is whom I’m talking to right now. I’m not talking to merely my family, friends, or just the state of North Carolina. My audience is the entire world. People will have the freedom to access this video whenever and wherever they want to. That is the power of the Internet.

This power can impact places, events, and people on so many levels. For instance, look at the positive role the Internet played in the recent Iranian elections and riots. The use of social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook allowed messages to flow freely out of Iran and tell the story of a dysfunctional, oppressive regime.

People can be transformed into universal stars by using the Internet. Just look at Susan Boyle from Britain’s Got Talent. Viral videos of her singing spread like wild fire across the Internet. She wouldn’t be the same global celebrity if she were just handing out her CD on the corner of 3rd and 14th street. The Internet allows you to openly project your ideas and to connect to each and every corner of the globe.

So where does this power come from? The power of the Internet comes from its users and its accessibility. Without the Internet’s freedom, the flow of people’s ideas would not be as rapid or progressive.

Everyone has a voice on the Internet, and no one voice is stronger than the other.

The use and impact of this power is up to you. It is your Internet.

Until next time, Planet Earth!
Submitted by Matt Hunter, a student in Elon University’s Interactive Media Master’s Program.

Sep
14

The Open Web is a Human Right

The Internet can be likened to a public playground. Everyone is welcome, and the more curiosity and imagination a user has, the more fun and interesting the Web experience becomes. Take the Google search engine, for example—an empty playground. With the search bar gracing the browser’s home page, millions of documents and resources are instantly in the hands of the user. Even if a user doesn’t have a specific search in mind, typing in just one letter will automatically yield the top 10 results. One can’t help but feel empowered at the wealth of information available.

This is where the importance of a free and open Web comes into play. Imagine a world without the Web, or a world in which searches are monitored and restricted frequently—in other words, a private playground. Those on the outside are shut off from the resources and lose an incredible outlet for imagination and thoughts to roam freely. The ability to self-learn and discover new ideas becomes confined. With an open Web, basic reading and writing skills are the only requirement needed to read, discuss and display basic thoughts or inspirations.

For example, in an exploration of Egypt prior to a trip for the Internet Governance Forum, typing in the keyword “Egypt” was a quick and easy way to find preliminary information. Search: Egypt. Results: 164,000,000. First hit: Wikipedia. An interest in “The Nile Valley,” (endnote 19 in the article), leads to an external link at the British Museum. From there, links direct the user to 10 partnership museums in the United Kingdom—each with more links and connections. In four clicks I was able to self-direct myself from a Wikipedia article about Egypt to the Bolton Museum and Art Gallery’s entire collection of artifacts.

As emphasized in “The Cluetrain Manifesto,” the Web is a dialogue; a conversation between any and all users. If anyone is shut out, the dialogue’s potential is weakened, as is the potential for other users to absorb more valuable information.

In the future, it will be crucial for site managers and production teams to consider designing and presenting information in a way that is accessible to most users—appealing to those with the least amount of Web experience. New users become connected every day—each possessing unique talents and goals.

The future of the Web should entail a larger base of open information that is usable across a variety of skill sets and interests.

Submitted by Shelley Russell, a student in Elon University’s Interactive Media Master’s Program.

Sep
13

OneWebDay: A Personal Experience

I can remember when I was little, the encyclopedia Britannica salesman came to our home and explained to my parents the reason why having this particular encyclopedia would be beneficial to my sister and I. Of course my parents purchased this excellent educational tool to further aid my curiosity and fantasy with learning.

A couple of years had passed and a new technology allowed research to be available at my finger tips. What is this phenomenon? The Internet, which introduced me to society and affected me in numerous ways.

So in the beginning, for me, the Internet was for research to look up the subjects and topics that I once used the encyclopedia for, but now it expands so significantly further in my everyday life. So greatly that I created a …

Top 10 Reasons of why I use the Internet:

1) Accessibility of Information – to search for all kinds of information on things I always want to know, search on someone, and search for trends such as fashion, music, and technology.

2) E-mail – allows me to electronically send mail to family, friends, coworkers, potential employers and clients. This Web tool has cut down on postage costs greatly.

3) Instant Messaging (IM) – This creation changed my world in college…real-time communications. I can recall my first year in undergraduate school in 2001 and when I walked by the dorms all you would hear was “bling” sound of IM. It really helped when I needed an instant response.

4) Social Networking sites – Okay, so everyone knows about Facebook, and I hate to beat a dead horse, but Facebook was the first social networking site that I took an active interest in on a daily basis. I know I used other social networking sites such as Blackplanet, but other ones don’t even exist anymore.

5) WordPress.com

6) Tumblr.com

7) Twitter – I’m the new kid on the block when it comes to blogging and microblogging. This is a new web tool I’m using to share information over the Web. Since, I’m in the new Interactive Media master’s program at Elon University, I trying to brand myself by using these web tools. I didn’t think I would like it but I starting to enjoy it. Especially when I’m followed by someone in the media industry…I feel important.

8) Convenience – I can access the Internet almost anywhere I go, from home, at the coffee shops, on my iPhone. Also, another convenience factor to me is shopping online.

9) Stay connected – with family, friends, and professionals contacts – a great tool for networking.

10) Interactivity – I am able to not only receive messages as in the traditional forms of media communication but now I can respond back to the messengers.

These are my Top 10 of why I use the Internet, please share some of your reasons!

Submitted by Kenya Ford, a student in Elon University’s Interactive Media Master’s Program.

Sep
13

Businesses Benefit from the Free, Open Web

There is an ever-growing need to work for a free, open Internet. We used to live in an age where if a child received a laptop, it was enough to learn with. However, even though that need is still apparent today, it is a growing need; a need that expands into interactivity. Each day, technology evolves to be faster and smaller. With this evolution comes the devolution of complex, specialized things.

Websites used to be viewed by most as simply magic. Today, websites are being released constantly and those without personal ones are left out in the cold. “Consumers” have become “Prosumers,” allowing for a whole new world of interaction between producers and their audience. Without free and open Internet, this connection would not be possible. That means everyone who has grown up accustomed to the “Burger King lifestyle” of having things “your way” will become turned off by the “Henry Ford plan” of only having the color black as an option.

Having a free Internet is good for businesses. Without it, advertising would have to rely on print, video and guerrilla ads. Businesses would not be able to reach hundreds of people through online advertisements if users weren’t allowed to get online for free and visit the sites they go to every day, because those sites expose users to the ads hidden around the site.

Being online also allows businesses to tell consumers what they want, when they want. They don’t have to solely depend on advertisements getting the message across to people. Instead, they can send out newsletters through e-mail or even have an “About” page on their website, allowing users to read up on the product they are using. Not only can businesses connect with their customers, but there are even whole business models built around the Internet.

That is why the free, open Internet is important to us.

Submitted by Jordan Yost, a student in Elon University’s Interactive Media Master’s Program.

Sep
12

Ubiquitous Computing Changes Everything

The Internet’s future is far too grand to accurately predict, but one thing is for certain: consumers use it, want to use it, will use it, they rely on it, and they depend on it.

As the future of the Internet continues to be planned, tested, and analyzed for optimum performance, one key factor should preside above all others: the issue of ubiquitous computing in relation to future generations.

In ubiquitous computing, the user is constantly connected to communications technologies, and the line between the natural and virtual worlds is becoming increasingly unclear every day. As more communications technologies are developed and users adapt to using more and more of them in their daily lives, the notion of being “on” or “off” becomes heavily blurred.

A typical day for the common user consists of checking one’s email, talking on cell phones, receiving and viewing the news online, and other forms of communications technologies preferred by different users.

In other words, typical users have combined both the natural world and virtual world into everyday lifestyles.

William Gibson states it best when he says, “In a world of super ubiquitous computing you’re not gonna know when you’re on or when you’re off. You’re always going to be on, in some sort of blended-reality state. You only think about it when something goes wrong and it goes off. And then it’s a drag…”

I really like this quote because it highlights the fear that people have about communications technologies not being available to them. Always being “on” has provided a sense of insecurity to people who can’t manage their virtual worlds and have instead let the virtual worlds manage them.

My concern lies with future generations who will be born into a society where life without some sort of virtual aspect is completely unknown to them. Wearable computing will become more common, allowing devices to curtail to life needs, and sensory computing such as temperature adjustments and light adjustments will be labeled as a type of natural occurrence, something that “just happens.”

It’s difficult to predict what type of effect this notion of always being “on” will have on future generations, but it is clear to me that we are about to see and experience a major change in the way younger generations view the world and those who live in it.

Submitted by Karen Kozmo Hartshorn, a student in Elon University’s Interactive Media Master’s Program.