Monday, February 27, 2012

Using Web of Science Assignment

For this weeks online assignment, you'll need to access Web of Science (also called Web of Knowledge) from the library homepage. Starting from, search for it under the Databases tab or see if it's listed under the Top 10 databases. Explore the search options, quick reference guides, and FAQs to become familiar with how to use it.

In addition to answering the questions below in your one-page write up, you may also write about your experience using this database. What is or isn't Web of Knowledge useful for?

Using Web of Science.  The Google algorithm — that links between web resources are an indicator of value — is based on an old idea from the Science Citation Index of the mid 20th century.  Today the Science Citation Index is online as "Web of Science."  Find your professors from this semester and last semester in Web of Science and trace their publications.  Who cites them?  What is their "influence" as measured by the web of citations?  Who was your most influential professor?  Your least?  Does this citation assessment match up with your assessment of them from your classroom experience?

New assignment (BOO)

OK everyone.  This week, sign up with an RSS feed reader service (like Google Reader) or get your own RSS feed reader software, and plug in the addresses of all nine of our student group blogs.  That way you can easily follow everything that is happening in our whole course!  (P.S. Plug in the address of our main blog,, as well, to follow this course web site!)

Did you know that UW has a Google of its own?

When you do a search from the front page of the UW-Madison web site — or from the dedicated UW search page — you're actually using a Google Custom Search.  (Try searching yourself and see if anything different comes up from when you did a global Google search for your identity.)

You might want to set up Google Custom Search for your group weblog as well (though if you're using Blogger, which is owned by Google, you already have search enabled by default).

Friday, February 24, 2012

Did you know that UW has a Wikipedia of its own?

Our amateur information resource here at UW-Madison is called Wiscpedia.  (I had never heard of it until randomly stumbling upon it this morning.)  It's rather thin on content right now.  Perhaps J 176 students can engage with it as part of their blog project?

Monday, February 20, 2012

An example of a Wikipedia fail?

Great little essay this week in the Chronicle of Higher Education about a professor named Timothy Messer-Kruse who uncovered new information about the Haymarket riot and trial in Chicago in the late 19th century, and proudly tried to add this new information to Wikipedia, only to be thwarted:
Within minutes my changes were reversed. The explanation: "You must provide reliable sources for your assertions to make changes along these lines to the article."
That was curious, as I had cited the documents that proved my point, including verbatim testimony from the trial published online by the Library of Congress. I also noted one of my own peer-reviewed articles. One of the people who had assumed the role of keeper of this bit of history for Wikipedia quoted the Web site's "undue weight" policy, which states that "articles should not give minority views as much or as detailed a description as more popular views." He then scolded me. "You should not delete information supported by the majority of sources to replace it with a minority view."
The "undue weight" policy posed a problem. Scholars have been publishing the same ideas about the Haymarket case for more than a century. The last published bibliography of titles on the subject has 1,530 entries.
"Explain to me, then, how a 'minority' source with facts on its side would ever appear against a wrong 'majority' one?" I asked the Wiki-gatekeeper. He responded, "You're more than welcome to discuss reliable sources here, that's what the talk page is for. However, you might want to have a quick look at Wikipedia's civility policy."
It gets more absurd from there.  Read the whole story if you like, and tell me what you think.  (P.S. If you're curious, I stumbled across this article through one of my own media diet spices, the text-heavy design abomination but culture-laden Arts & Letters Daily.)

Project Information Literacy

Curious about that research report I discussed with you today in lecture?  It's available at the Project Information Literacy web site from the University of Washington.  There are a lot of resources free for downloading which might provide good raw material for review and commentary on your weblogs.  (One of my own favorites comes from one of the key participants of that old online space The Well that I talked about during our zines and weblog weeks: Howard Rheingold, "Crap Detection 101")

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Wikipedia Use in Educational Settings

Some paraphrased common threads from the assignments this week: 
  • In high school, the use of Wikipedia to look up information or do research papers was frowned upon.
  • We were taught to stay away from Wikipedia because it was an unreliable source.
  • In a school setting, there are many worries about the site.
  • Teachers and professors never allow students to use Wikipedia as a credible source.
For next week, you'll read an article by Rosenzweig which addresses the ways students interact with the site. He writes, 
Wikipedia's ease of use and its tendency to show up at the top of Google rankings in turn reinforce students' propensity to latch on to the first source they encounter rather than to weigh multiple sources of information. Teachers have little more to fear from students' starting with Wikipedia than from their starting with most other basic reference sources. They have a lot to fear if students stop there (p. 26).
Is there any place for Wikipedia in student research? Under what conditions or for what purposes might it be useful in educational settings?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Interesting post from a UW graduate student on social media

One of our graduate students in Journalism & Mass Communication, Dave Wilcox, has been authoring a really interesting blog called "Kerfuffle" for a number of years now.  His latest post is right in line with the issues we've been discussing in class these last two weeks: "Just how much of my user-created content does the world want, anyway?"  He first laments the imbalance between the quantity and quality of his posts:
I am posting stuff all over the place all the time.  It gets posted on sites and platforms and apps that didn't exist when I began Kerfuffle (at least in their current forms).  I'm dropping stuff on Facebook every day, and on Twitter even more frequently than that.  Many of those posts are link-driven, but usually with some kind of added intellectual contribution.  Well, perhaps the contribution isn't all that chocked full of intellect.  But it is a contribution none the less.  Add to those the activity I frequently post on sites sites that are more visual, such as my Tumblr page (called Wait, What?) and Instagram feed. 
Then he notes that his social media posting has shifted from being computer-based to mobile-phone-based:
Sure, the laptop isn't usually too far away and wifi is all but ubiquitous these days.  But the phone is so damn easy and, well, now.  That explains why the first two screens on my phone contain a combined five social networking apps.
IMG_0604IMG_0605Further into the screens are more apps that feed these platforms with even more content.  Music apps likeSpotifyShazam and SoundHound; rating apps like YelpWhere, andurbanspoon; and travel apps likeExpedia anTravelocity all are willing to push content if I enable them.  Same for YouTube, of course. Hell, I have  whole screen of nothing but Google apps, another with all the social networks that I rarely use like FourSquare and LinkedIn, and still another with a bunch of Twitter clients I don't even use.
So what compels him to spend so much time with social media?
It's kind of funny to me that I use all these, and yet I freely admit that most of the content would hardly be missed by anyone at all.  So what does that mean?  I have to try this shit out, since I am studying social media as part of my research at UW, right?  At least that's what I tell myself (and others).  But how does that explain my driving need to live-tweet any Badger hockey game I attend?  I have no idea.  I guess I do it because (a) I'm a techno-geek, (b) I'm a media nerd and (c) because its fun.  Oh, right, and (d), of course: research.  Yes.  Research
Check out his post and let him know what you think.   Do you think that after this class you'll have caught the same social media bug as Dave?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Today's TED video, plus a few more

You can find today's video from lecture, plus many more on the same topic, at the TED site.  Here are some useful ones:

Again, view these with a critical eye — ask yourself what they are arguing, what assumptions they are making, and what cases those arguments and assumptions do and do not apply to.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Spaces for J176 Collaborative Work

Some ideas for places to work in your groups

2120 Vilas Lab
Monday: 10:30am-12:30pm by appointment with
Friday: 9am-3:30pm by appointment with
Evenings and weekends by advance appointment

Journalism Reading Room: Hours are Mon 10am-9pm, Tues/Wed 10am-10pm, Thurs 10am-4pm, Fri 12pm-4pm
Reserve the JRR Alcove:
Computer lab with group terminals: College Library, room 2250
Laptop and other equipment checkout
Plus virtual spaces!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

How to get more hits on your site with less content

Today the editor of Salon, Kerry Lauerman, describes a counterintuitive strategy that his group stumbled upon:
There's a terrible stereotype about Web editors, that we just care about traffic. Page views, unique visitors, clicks, hits, eyeballs, drivebys, furtive peeks, longing glances and everything in between.
And it's true! 
Except I'm here to tell you that there's no easy trick, no gimmick, to draw people to read your Website. Trust me, we've tried. 
So what finally worked in the end?  
We've tried to work longer on stories for greater impact, and publish fewer quick-takes that we know you can consume elsewhere. We're actually publishing, on average, roughly one-third fewer posts on Salon than we were a year ago (from 848 to 572 in December; 943 to 602 in January). So: 33 percent fewer posts; 40 percent greater traffic.
It sounds  simple, maybe obvious, but: We've gone back to our primary mission and have been focusing on originality. And it's working. 
Check out the full post here and tell me what you think.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Upcoming event of interest

My name is Emily Heilman and I am involved in the student organization, PRSSA (Public Relations Student Society of America). Every year we host a conference relating to the field of public relations. This year's theme is "Social Media: An Accessible World #connected" and we have five incredible speakers booked to teach our students how to use the social media outlet effectively in the professional world. 
Our speakers include:
  • Al Krueger - Hanson Dodge Creative
  • Tom Kuplic - Lindsay, Stone & Briggs
  • Matt Andrews - Thirsty Boy
  • Jeff Carrigan - Big Shoes Network
  • Katy Morgan-Davies - Google (Google+)
March 10th at the Lowell Center on Langdon St. - 12:30-5 p.m.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Blogging systems hire journalists

A New York Times article today by Brian Stelter describes how major "user-generated content" social networking services like Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook (basically different forms of blogging services, as far as I'm concerned) have begun to hire their own writers and journalists to highlight and promote the different kinds of information their users create.  From the article:
The popular social blogging site Tumblr is hiring writers and editors to cover the world of Tumblr.
Writers and editors will cover the content of Tumblr blogs and their creators, with the idea of keeping users on the site longer.
Chris Mohney, a senior vice president for content at BlackBook Media, will be the site’s editor in chief. Jessica Bennett, a senior writer and editor at Newsweek and The Daily Beast, will be the executive editor and, she said, a kind of Tumblr correspondent.
“Basically, if Tumblr were a city of 42 million,” Ms. Bennett said, referring to the number of Tumblr blogs that exist, “I’m trying to figure out how we cover the ideas, themes and people who live in it.”
Their work — both documenting the Tumblr service and marketing it to users — will appear on the Web site’s staff blog and on a separate part of that has not been set up yet, a Tumblr spokeswoman said Wednesday.
The moves by Tumblr are one way to tap into all of the free content that users upload to social networking Web sites. Twitter, trying another way, recently created a section of its site that lists stories that are popular among its users, with links to articles and related Twitter messages. And Facebook recently hired Daniel Fletcher, a 2009 graduate of Northwestern University’s journalism school, to be its managing editor.
Of course, this is something that mainstream news sources — as well as other user-generated blogs — have been doing for a long time: mining the blogosphere for interesting insights, provocations, and gossip and appropriating them for their own analytical and promotional purposes.  I suppose having the blog providers themselves do this as well shouldn't be surprising, right?