EID100 Final Project

View my final project for EID100 with Lauren Riihimaki, a blog about User Generated Content Best Practices:

https://ugc101.wordpress.com/

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Module 9 Tutorial Assignment: Codecademy

For this week’s tutorial assignment, I completed two courses on Codecademy – “HTML Basics” & “Build Your Own Webpage”. While I’ve had some experience with HTML in the past, I thought it would be best to start from the basics as a refresher. These courses were great practice to understand the fundamentals of HTML.

I earned the following badges for completing the courses:

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Here’s a screenshot of the completed code for the “Build Your Own Webpage” module:

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The completed code produced the following web page:

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Tweetdeck vs. Search Engines

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After exploring the search capabilities within the Tweetdeck application, I’ve identified a few points of difference between this method of curating information in contrast to using a search engine, such as Google. The two areas of interest which I selected included “Interoperable Technologies”, and “Crowdfunding” – both popular web-based topics, which have garnered more attention in recent years. The hashtags I chose to track for each topic were “#interoperability” and “#Kickstarter”. After having some time to explore Tweetdeck and its functionality, I identified the following three differences between the app vs. using a search engine to gather information:

Real Time Updates:

Tweetdeck monitors your selected search term or hashtag in real time, updating each designated column of your customized dashboard as users are producing content. This means the most recent tweet containing the hashtag “interoperability” for example, will appear at the top of your search column. This differs from search engines in that results are typically sorted by a combination of factors such as site linking and SEO, not necessarily by the time published. 

User Interface – The ability to curate information from multiple topics simultaneously: 

Tweetdeck also allows users to track multiple searches simultaneously, creating a very user-friendly interface. For example, the four columns I created could be viewed all at once in the width of the monitor. Search engines only allow for the user to view the results for a single search term at one time. 

Content Purpose – Personal selling vs. communicating information:

One observation of the content curated using Tweetdeck was a heavy presence of promotional tweets. Particularly with the hashtag “#Kickstarter”, many of the tweets broadcasted were from users pitching their startup ideas, vs. information pertaining to the actual crowdfunding platform. A quick Google search of the same topic yielded far more articles about crowdfunding, with less of a focus on personal selling.

Privacy on the Web: Lightbeam for Firefox

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The graph above depicts the information gathered by the Lightbeam application within Firefox, visually mapping the first and third party sites involved in a quick 20-minute session browsing the web. After visiting only six websites during this session, I was connected with over 80 third party sites – an unsettling realization for the average web user.

Many of these third party websites are essentially tracking your movements on the web, often for the purpose of advertising. As discussed in lecture, advertisers boost the value of their advertising space by tailoring content to match individual users and their specific interests, which is where these third party websites come in. For the purpose of this exercise, I was particularly interested in visiting e-commerce sites to discover whether there would be a heavier third party presence. My suspicions were confirmed after visiting Forever21.com, as well as Sephora.com – two popular online retailers. These sites generated the highest number of third party connections, most of which I verified to be digital advertising companies (e.g. Doubleclick.net), after further investigation of the URLs provided on the list.

Once these advertising companies gather data from my visits to these websites, my information is used and categorized to fit a specific market segment. This is how Facebook (another website that appeared frequently on the third party lists) advertisements are tailored so closely to fit the individual browsing the site. While cookies do not produce any particular malware concerns, they do raise issues concerning data privacy. While many of us would be surprised to discover just how many third party websites have access to our information, the reality of the matter is that big players on the web (e.g. Facebook) will always use this information, so long as they have the rights and ability to do so. However, Lightbeam does an excellent job of shedding insight on the various third party websites that are present while browsing the web. For anyone curious as to who is really watching their browsing behaviours, I would highly suggest installing the app.