Designing for the web – the design process Part 1

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Designing for the web can be a tricky process. Follow some of these helpful tips through these series of posts on how to address your next web design project and it should go smooth sailing.

Part 1 – The initial design meeting

Do your research

Before you sit down with the client, make sure you know a bit about them, who are they, who is their market, who are their competitors, what kind of web presence seems to be the ‘norm’ for their industry… but most importantly if they have an existing website, review it and take notes on what you think needs improving and take note of their current site map. All this information will give you some background knowledge of the client you need to represent online.

Ask a lot of questions

During the initial design meeting you should ask a series of questions which will give you a clearer understanding of what they want their website to do, what they will be using it for and what they like. Depending on the client’s business you will be determined by what style of design they like, if they like big slideshows, or need more text and directions, or it’s a store that needs to promote products or have the need to use advertising spaces on their site… Knowing the functionality of the site will determine what you will need to cater for in your design process.

Collect, Record, Confirm

Collect all the vital information. Especially business details including their business name, ABN (if in Australia), desired domain name (if required), phone numbers, address and contact form information. During this meeting it is great to get a draft site map drawn up so you will know how much needs to be in the site navigation. This can determine weather you have a top navigation bar or just a side navigation… or both. Utility links, footer links etc etc. Also find out what are the most important areas of the website the client considers the most important. This will determine call to action placements and entry points you might need to include on a homepage design.

Draw Wireframe Sketches

As you are sitting with your client, sketch up some wireframes of how you see their homepage flowing, explaining what each area will be and where it can possibly go. Remember these are sketches, not final masterpieces, they just visualise what you are thinking and allow you to communicate with the client your thoughts. Some people can’t visualise without seeing it.

KISS

Don’t get lost in the technical lingo of web design. CSS, HTML, Javascript, all this just sounds like a foreign language to those who  don’t talk web everyday. Clients might not understand the difference between a div or tables or that margin-left:auto; margin-right:auto; will centre an item in a div… they just want it to work without knowing the ins and outs of the process. Subsequent meetings are more the place for this kind of talk. especially if the client will be controlling the content them self by using a CMS.

It’s not goodbye, but till next time

Before you finish up your initial design briefing with your client you need to agree on a few processes. Ensure to include the client the entire way. No one wants to feel left out, especially the client. What will the client need to do? What will you be providing them? When is a soft  launch expected?

Personally getting the client to agree to a site map helps not just yourself in the design, but helps the client to envision what content they need to create and supply to you for the final website. It is also good to supply to the client post meeting a proper sitemap and wireframe sketch so everyone agrees to what the basics are on the site before the work begins.

Also get from the client important key collateral pieces, such as logo, style guides, key images and/or colour schemes.  These will be key in producing the intial mockups going forward from this meeting.

Next up… the mockup process.

There is no privacy online – Smartphones, Applications, Operating Systems and privacy issues

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Privacy in the traditional sense has been described as controlling knowledge about oneself (Introna, 1997, p. 262). Its about having control over whom, when and how others can obtain information about someone.

Technology today allows users to store their personal data and, in particular, smartphones allow users to talk, store photos, play games, get directions and browse the Internet (Urban, Hoofnagle, & Li, 2012, p. 4). They are becoming central for communication and information needs (Butler, 2011, p. 5). Though smartphones are not so smart without third party applications (apps). What many users of apps on smartphones are unaware of is that apps often need to be granted permission to access private data on these devices to implement their core features (Butler, 2011, p. 5). But what exactly do these apps need to access to function and what is purely an invasion of privacy? This essay attempts to explain how there is no privacy online by using the example of smartphones, their applications, and how two major operating systems (OS) on these devices attempt to ease and/or aggravate the invasion of users personal information.

 “Every day, during the course of our usual activities online, we willingly surrender privacy without giving much thought to the consequences of doing so.” (Kent, 2013)

This is ever so present with smartphones, which have been described as having the same computing power with similar capabilities as the PCs of a decade ago (Butler, 2011, p. 5). They can store sensitive personal data, contact lists, financial information, physical location information, and sensor data information (Egelman, Felt, & Wagner, 2012, p. 1). They record users associations with other people, their locations, what they have read and their thoughts about the world (Urban, Hoofnagle, & Li, 2012, p. 4). Users can store a lot of information about themselves and their whereabouts with very little effort, and consider the information stored on these devices as private (Urban, Hoofnagle, & Li, 2012, p. 2). Smartphones are a rich repository of memories and content that chronicles its users lives. They are an archive of the users personally identifiable information ( Boyles , Smith, & Madden , 2012, p. 5).

Apps are little applications that run computer programs on mobile devices such as smartphones (WebWise Team, 2012). Apps are usually developed by a third party and downloaded from an app store (Benenson, Gassmann, & Reinfelder, 2013). They talk over the Internet, just like a browser does on a PC (Thompson, 2013). Some apps require access to personal data from the users smartphone to function, such as phone and email contacts, call logs, Internet history, calendar events, the devices location and how the user uses the app itself. This information is transmitted to the apps developer and can sometimes be shared or sold to third party advertisers (Clearinghouse, 2013). Users may have limited information about what the app is collecting from them, or the apps hidden functionalities (Benenson, Gassmann, & Reinfelder, 2013).

“When users choose a smartphone, they also choose a risk communication strategy for the possible security and privacy risks” (Benenson & Reinfelder, 2013, p. 1). There are two major OS players in the smartphone market. Android OS, which is an open source and source code release by Google under the Apache license, and Apple’s iOS, which have authentication procedures to protect their users (Ahmad, Musa , Nadarajah , Hassan, & Othman, 2013, pp. 1-2). Android users are generally tech savvy males where Apple iOS users are said to be loyal and brand-aware (Benenson, Gassmann, & Reinfelder, 2013). Both of these OS offer essentially the same products, but they both operate differently in the way they handle users personal data and apps.

Android OS is an open source market where app developers don’t need to go through an approval process to get their apps onto the Android app store (Butler, 2011, p. 6). Anyone can develop and distribute for this OS via the official Google Play store or anywhere else on the Internet (Benenson, Gassmann, & Reinfelder, 2013). Android OS is an easy target for malware, which is short for malicious software used to collect private information to be used in malicious activities (Website Defender, 2013). Many users believed that Google reviewed apps before they entered the Google Play store and were under a false impression that they were safe using these apps on their devices (Benenson, Gassmann, & Reinfelder, 2013). Users are at risk of being exposed to these malware apps and they can access private data found on Android smartphones. Google relies on users to set security on each application during installation time (Ahmad, Musa , Nadarajah , Hassan, & Othman, 2013, p. 1), where a permission screen is shown to the user who must agree with all the permission requests in order to install the app (Benenson, Gassmann, & Reinfelder, 2013). “Permissions govern an application’s ability to perform actions on a phone that make use of either personal data or sensor hardware.” (Egelman, Felt, & Wagner, 2012, p. 2). These permissions, however, cannot be selectively granted or denied (Egelman, Felt, & Wagner, 2012, p. 3). It’s all or nothing. Android OS appeals to the open source community and allows its users more control over their devices (Benenson & Reinfelder, 2013, p. 1).

Apple iOS, however, only allows subscribers of their Developer Program to distribute through the official App Store (Benenson, Gassmann, & Reinfelder, 2013). Apple scrutinizes all apps and if they comply with their licensing agreement, they are accepted and then made available for users to install on their devices (Ahmad, Musa , Nadarajah , Hassan, & Othman, 2013). This means apps available through the App Store should not have any malicious functionally. The Apple tradition is that its users “trust” Apple to protect their personal information. Their strict control over the iOS apps gives users a secure feeling without having to go into technical detail (Benenson & Reinfelder, 2013, p. 1). iOS users are given runtime consent for data permissions and can customize their data disclosure policies by altering their privacy settings on their device (Benenson, Gassmann, & Reinfelder, 2013).

Android and Apple iOS have chosen two different ways to inform their users of the security and privacy risks when installing apps onto their devices (Benenson & Reinfelder, 2013, p. 1) “Differences in security and privacy risk perceptions of Android and iOS users seem to be connected to the different way in which Apple and Google shape risk communication.” (Benenson & Reinfelder, 2013, p. 2). Depending on the smartphones OS configuration, apps are capable of collecting information directly from user input or by collecting information stored in other apps that are installed on the device (Urban, Hoofnagle, & Li, 2012, p. 15). Many smartphone users underestimate the likelihood of their privacy being abused, but are still willingly trading private information for convenience, functionality or financial gains when it comes to installing apps onto their devices (Egelman, Felt, & Wagner, 2012, p. 6). iOS users are more laid back about the possible privacy risks when installing apps, as apposed to Android users. Though Android users would be better informed about which data types and critical actions are used by apps through the permissions shown during the installation process (Benenson & Reinfelder, 2013, p. 1).

In a research study conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2012 on Privacy and Data Management on Mobile Devices, a key finding of the study showed that “more than half of app users have uninstalled or avoided an app due to concerns about personal information” ( Boyles , Smith, & Madden , 2012, p. 2). 54% of app users did not install an app after they discovered how much personal information would be shared in order to use it. Also 30% of app users have uninstalled an existing app on their devices after learning how much personal information that app was collecting about them ( Boyles , Smith, & Madden , 2012, p. 2). These results were not bias to what OS they used on their smartphones. The survey also states that one in five users have turned off location tracking features on their devices ( Boyles , Smith, & Madden , 2012, p. 8).

Location tracking (also known as geolocation) in smartphones uses multiple technologies, such as Global Positioning Systems (GPS), Wi-Fi triangulation and communication tower identification (Clearinghouse, 2013). These technologies allow apps to know the smartphones location. This information might have a useful purpose like providing accurate travel directions, though some apps use this information for behavioral marketing purposes (Clearinghouse, 2013). This technology can also be used to locate users in the event of an emergency (Van Hal, 2013, p. 716). Most users are not aware that every time they make a location request or even use an app, the device records where they are (Van Hal, 2013, p. 714). The geolocation information stored on smartphones can reveal the users work habits, travel patterns and physical location at any time (Van Hal, 2013, p. 726). This information can be collected without the knowledge of the user (Urban, Hoofnagle, & Li, 2012, p. 19). Both Android and Apple iOS have collected geolocation information without the knowledge of their users (Van Hal, 2013, p. 719).

“App developers for either platform can earn money by integrating ad networks into their apps” (Benenson, Gassmann, & Reinfelder, 2013). Information that was once difficult and expensive to ascertain and catalogue is now becoming available to companies at a click of a button (Van Hal, 2013, p. 713). As users freely offer up their personal data, app developers may be selling the information it collects to other third parties, such as advertising and marketing agencies. This often leads to targeted advertising that make use of personal information such as age, gender and location (Egelman, Felt, & Wagner, 2012, p. 5). Many of these apps can also track the users activities (Van Hal, 2013, p. 716).

Though users can help to limit the information collected by app developers. Many users opt to pay for apps, rather than installing free versions, to help withhold personal information from advertisers” (Egelman, Felt, & Wagner, 2012, p. 4). “Past research has established that free applications request more permissions than paid applications because many free applications share user data with advertising networks to generate revenue” (Egelman, Felt, & Wagner, 2012, p. 4).

With all this personal information that is being collected and accessed on smartphones, the definition of “privacy” cannot be so easily defined. Controlling knowledge about oneself is becoming increasingly difficult as technologies, such as smartphones, grow in popularity. Gone are the days when mobile devices simply made and received phone calls (Van Hal, 2013, p. 715). Smartphones allow users to have access to the Internet at anytime and any place.

Traditional privacy meant having no access to a persons personal realm, having control over personal information and being free from judgment and scrutiny (Introna, 1997, pp. 261-262). Privacy entitles one to be excluded from being watched, utilized or to protect their personal realm from being invaded (Introna, 1997, p. 262). Privacy is somewhere that one can be free from judgment of others (Introna, 1997, pp. 260-261). It is the ability to control whom and when information about us can be shared with others (Introna, 1997, p. 263). In the offline world this form of privacy can possibly be achieved. But as our online activities seep into our offline lives, privacy becomes tricky to ascertain.

So far from what can be understood about smartphones and apps is that app developers are invading users privacy. “It’s hardly news in this era of information rich technology that privacy is gradually being eroded, or that our digital profiles are being converted to all kinds of uses, without us having much idea of exactly what’s going on” (Thompson, 2013). As mentioned earlier, apps access what would be private information such as phone contacts, physical location and personal thoughts. Regardless of weather or not a user reads the terms and conditions (or permissions) when installing an app onto their device, they are granting access to these apps to use their personal information if they accept these terms (permissions). It is like app developers have made the terms and conditions 10 or 15 pages long deliberately so users wont read them (Thompson, 2013). It is up to individual users to be responsible for protecting their privacy (Van Hal, 2013, p. 723). It is the duty of the user to increase their privacy by “closing doors or drawing shades” on their devices (Chow, 2013, p. 68).

There is no privacy online, no matter how much a user tries to protect them from prying third parties. Smartphone technology requires the use of private data collected on these devices to allow apps to function. Weather it be for travel directions, finding friends on social media, or tagging photos taken on the device for future referencing. However, users can ease the amount of access they give app developers by reading the permission and terms upon installation, uninstall apps that they feel access too much information, pay for a version of an app if there is one available, turn off features users believe are not required for the app to function, and chose an OS that they believe will help them to protect their information. It’s up to the user to take responsibility of their privacy and to prevent intrusion from third parties (Van Hal, 2013, p. 723). Smartphone owners need to be active in managing their data to avoid exposure to their privacy ( Boyles , Smith, & Madden , 2012, p. 3).

 

References

Boyles , J., Smith, A., & Madden , M. (2012). Privacy and Data Management on Mobile Devices. Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project.

Ahmad, M., Musa , N., Nadarajah , R., Hassan, R., & Othman, N. (2013). Comparison Between Android and iOS Operating System in terms of Security. Information Technology in Asia (CITA), 2013 8th International Conference, (pp. 1-4). Kota Samarahan, Malaysia.

Benenson, Z., & Reinfelder, L. (2013). Should the Users be Informed? On Differences in Risk Perception between Android and iPhone Users. Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security (SOUPS) 2013, (pp. 1-2). Newcastle UK.

Benenson, Z., Gassmann, F., & Reinfelder, L. (2013). Android and iOS Users’ Differences concerning Security and Privacy. CHI ’13 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 817-822). New York: ACM.

Butler, M. (2011). Android: Changing the Mobile Landscape. PERVASIVE computing , 4-7.

Chow, R. (2013). Why-spy? An analysis of privacy and geolocation in the wake of the 2010 Google “Wi-Spy” controversy. Rutgers Computer & Technology Law Journal , 39, 56-94.

Clearinghouse, P. R. (2013 йил 1-July). Privacy and the Internet: Travelling in Cyberspace Safely. Retrieved 2013 йил 2013-September from Privacy Rights Clearinghouse: http://www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs18-cyb.htm

Egelman, S., Felt, A., & Wagner, D. (2012). Choice Architecture and Smartphone Privacy: There’s A Price for That. WEIS 2012, (pp. 1-27).

Introna, L. (1997). Privacy and the computer: why we need privacy in the information society. . Metaphilosophy , 28 (3), 259-275.

Kent, M. (2013 йил 01-August). Moduke 1.2a: PRivacy and “Terms of Use”. Retrieved 2013 йил 25-September from Curtin University Blackboard: https://lms.curtin.edu.au/bbcswebdav/pid-2000938-dt-content-rid-9001824_1/courses/305049-Vice-Chancello-78143041/Net%20303%20OUA%20SP3/1.2a.html

Thompson, G. (Producer), & O’Brien, K. (Director). (2013). In Google We Trust [Motion Picture]. Australia.

Urban, J., Hoofnagle, C., & Li, S. (2012). Mobile Phones and Privacy. Berkeley.

Van Hal, T. (2013). Taming the Golden Goose: Private Companies, Consumer Geolocation Data, and the Need for a Class Action Regime for Privacy Protection.  Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment and Technology Law , 15 (3), 713-752.

Website Defender. (2013). What is Malware? Retrieved 11 16, 2013, from Website Defender: http://www.websitedefender.com/what-is-malware/

WebWise Team. (2012, October). WebWise – What are apps? Retrieved November 15, 2013, from BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/webwise/guides/what-are-apps

Policy Primer – Behance

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The service that I have chosen to use for my policy primer is Behance. It is a service used by creative people all over the world to showcase their works with others. It takes out the complexity of sharing your creations online and allows users to explore other works for inspiration or even use other users content within their own works, depending on the licensing granted by the creator. It is a service that allows other like-minded creative people to come together to show appreciation of each other’s works. Behance removes the barriers between talent and opportunity (Behance, 2013a).

As a creative talent myself, when sharing my unique creative content online I am always conscience of my copyright and how image sharing sites, like Behance, will use the content that I upload to their service. I also want to know that other users of the service are putting their own names to their works and not impersonating others. After reading through the terms of service and various other legal documents on the Behance service, it was a good feeling to know that Behance do not take ownership of your works. But as a trade for using their service, users give Behance a license to use their works in their own promotional materials (Behance, 2013c).

Behance use the “community” to monitor other users behaviors on the service. Lessig mentions in his conference paper The Architecture of Privacy how communities in a traditional sense monitor the comings and goings of others in the neighborhood (Lessig, 1998, p. 2). The Behance community can monitor content uploaded to the service for breaches of the community guidelines or breaches of copyright by reporting it to Behance for investigation. This helps to keep the quality of the Behance community high (Behance, 2013b).

The choice to use Prezi as my presentation platform was simple. The presentation needed to match the creative theme of Behance. A simple PowerPoint style presentation would not have done the policy primer justice. “People remember spaces and stories” (Prezi, 2013a). Prezi turns the boring old slideshow into a journey, a visual story that has a flow and a narrative, and where images and text work together (Prezi, 2013a). Prezi simply helps to share ideas with other people and inspire creative thinking (Prezi, 2013b). Perzi is similar to Behance’s mission, to help creative people share and connect with others. It is a match that was meant to be.

The policy primer for Behance needed to engage the attention of creative people. Potential users of Behance would want to know who Behance are, what they are about, about copyright and licensing of their uploaded content works, how their personal information is used within the service, and what the social etiquette is between users of the service. Prezi delivers a dynamic and creative way to present the important aspects of the terms of service for Behance in a clear and straightforward manner. This allows potential users of Behance to make a clear decision about accepting its terms.

Originally posted at http://prezi.com/w3blhvw2lued/behance/

References:

Behance. (2013a). About Behance.   Retrieved 13 October, 2013, from http://www.behance.net/about

Behance. (2013b). Behance Community Guidelines.   Retrieved 13 October 2013, from http://www.behance.net/misc/community

Behance. (2013c). Terms of Use.   Retrieved 13 October, 2013, from http://www.behance.net/misc/terms

Lessig, L. (1998). The Architecture of Privacy. Paper presented at the Taiwan Net ’98.

Prezi. (2013a). Ideas Matter.   Retrieved 18 October, 2013, from http://prezi.com/about/

Prezi. (2013b). Why We Care.   Retrieved 18 October, 2013, from http://prezi.com/our-values/

 

Terms and Conditions May Apply – Review

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A tutor of mine while studying Internet Communications put me onto this documentary. Terms and Conditions May Apply is a documentary that EVERYONE must watch.

If you use the internet (which if your reading this then of course you do) you should ask yourself… what are your really agreeing to when you agree to a websites terms and conditions? What exactly is being tracked during your internet searches?

Below is a trailer for Terms and Conditions May Apply, and if you can, watch the full documentary to really understand what exactly you are agreeing to.

The reasoning behind the Australian Labor Party’s failed mandatory Internet filtering policy.

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Governments around the world have trialed and implemented many different ways to filter Internet content to their citizens. Australia is one country that has tinkered with the possibility of implementing a mandatory Internet filter.

In 2007, the Australian Labor Party (ALP) ran a federal election campaign that included an introduction of a mandatory filter through Internet Service Providers (ISPs). The policy proposed would allow ISPs to block websites that contained content focusing on child pornography and bestiality (Jacobs, 2010). ALP won the 2007 Australian election and began testing commercial filtering software. They soon ran into difficulties in implementing this filter (Bambauer, 2008, p. 4). This essay attempts to illustrate the difficulties the ALP government had in implementing the policy due to technical, political, religious and public disagreements on what should and shouldn’t be filtered through Australian ISPs to protect the country’s children.

The basis of the ALP’s mandatory Internet filtering policy was to create a ‘clean feed’ from the ISP level that blocked websites that have been deemed ‘inappropriate’ for children to be have access to (Simpson, 2008, p. 167). The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) were endorsed by the ALP to impose restrictions on content found on websites hosted in Australia and maintain a ‘blacklist’ of international websites which contained content such as child pornography (Levin, 2010, p. 47). This means that content on the Internet would be classified in the same way as movies, television programs and computer games and will be put into one of three categories (Simpson, 2008, p. 175). Refused Classification (RC), R 18+ and MA 15+ (Levin, 2010, p. 47). The idea behind these classification categories was “to provide advice to parents about what might be acceptable for their children, and advice generally to consumers as to the content” (Simpson, 2008, pp. 175-176). Stephen Conroy, ALP’s Communications Minister, stated that the decision to use ACMA was to put an arm’s length between the government and the classifications board, so the government was not responsible for individual decisions (McDermott, 2010).

Two levels of filtering were proposed by the ALP. The first level would include websites with ‘inappropriate content’ (RC). There were about 1300 websites on the ACMA ‘blacklist’ and these sites would be mandatorily blocked by ISP filters under the ALP policy (Bambauer, 2008, p. 9). The problem with this ‘blacklist’ was that it wasn’t publicised. Unlike offline classification decisions, ACMA keep Internet material classification decisions secret (Bambauer, 2008, p. 9). The ‘blacklist’ is maintained by the ACMA and based on public complaints (Levin, 2010, p. 47). The second level would be used to block sensitive material (R 18+ and MA 15+), but would allow for adults to bypass the filtering restrictions (Bambauer, 2008, p. 6). The second level of filtering would not be mandatory for ISPs to offer (Levin, 2010, p. 47).

The ALP Internet filtering policy seemed like a good idea to help parents, schools and society to keep children safe from ‘bad’ Internet exposure. But like all political policies, and Australia being a democratic country, all citizens are entitled to their freedom of speech, expression and religious belief on the proposed Internet filtering policy (House, n.d). Religious values can inform and influence the shape of the laws and policy in Australia (Simpson, 2008, p. 169). There were some very vocal groups advocating the Internet filtering policy and pushing their values of what they believe to be the best version of a ‘clean feed’. These groups include the Australian Christian Lobby, the Australian Family Association, the Family First Party, the Catholic Church and many other religious groups (Simpson, 2008, p. 169).

“What constitutes good or bad content is ultimately a value judgment rather than a scientific evaluation” (Simpson, 2008, p. 170). There were other contributing groups who believed that the ALP proposed Internet filter would be censoring Australians democratic rights to their freedom of speech and expression online. Electronic Frontiers Australia (EPA) have heavily documented the process of the mandatory Internet filtering policy on their website and have shown criticism of the government trying to censor the Internet, which is a great enabler of free speech (Jacobs, 2010). Contributor Colin Jacobs criticises the use of the ACMA classification scheme and it’s use for classifying online content and states that “a system designed for books and cinemas can’t be shoehorned onto the net, no matter how hard you try” (Jacobs, 2010). When ACMA censor a book or a movie, they censor a publisher or media company who know how to navigate their way through the ACMA system (Jacobs, 2010). When censoring a blogger or someone with a genuine opinion online, these ordinary citizens don’t generally know how to navigate their way through the legalities of the ACMA classification processes if they were to find themselves on the secret ‘blacklist’.

Jacobs also comments on content that doesn’t fit into the ACMA categories. Websites containing information on euthanasia, safe drug use and graffiti could get caught up into the ACMA ‘blacklist’, among other legitimate websites (Jacobs, 2010). There was an apparent ‘blacklist’ leaked in 2010 which included a website for a Queensland dentist as a RC website and almost half the sites listed were not related to child pornography (Levin, 2010, p. 48).

Besides the ethical, religious and political reasons and also the process in which websites would be classified in Australia, there were major flaws in the mandatory Internet filtering through ISPs technically. It was argued that those who are seeking out ‘inappropriate content’ on the Internet can circumvent the filter and use proxy websites and private networks (Levin, 2010, p. 49). “Some sophisticated users will employ these seemingly unrelated sites to access banned material” (Bambauer, 2008, p. 24). To target these avenues in which ‘inappropriate material’ could be accessed, the filters would often target websites that can bear no relation to the material in question (Bambauer, 2008, p. 24). This is how the above mention Dentist website got caught up in the ACMA ‘blacklist’.  Mark Newtown, an ISP Network Engineer, states that 37 different circumventing methods were tested during a pilot trial and all of them bypassed the mandatory Internet filter (McDermott, 2010). Peter Coroneos, from Internet Industry Association, stated on the ABC’s Four Corners series in 2010 that  “a lot of the content that families really are concerned about for their children, things like violent material, racial hatred material, material which promotes race hate, maybe even just adult content that you wouldn’t want your children to see, none of that will be picked up by this filtering solution.” (McDermott, 2010).

Other technical downfalls of the proposed ALP’s mandatory Internet filtering policy were detected during pilot testing. After testing out different filtering software at the ISP level, there was a significant decrease in Internet access speeds of up to 86% (Bambauer, 2008, p. 3). With already struggling broadband speeds in Australia, this kind of effect on Internet access could leave some Australian’s with access speeds barely any faster than dial-up (Bambauer, 2008, p. 17). Coroneos used the water system as an analogy for this.

“If there are impurities in the water system, the question is where is it best to locate the filter? A lot of taps in kitchens these days have got filters fitted and they’re fine filters and they will pick up fine particulate matter. To put the same fine filter at the head end of the water supply would obviously filter the entire system but it would also dramatically slow the system. So if you want to provide a solution that really is going to be granular in its control in terms of the range of content that parents could determine they don’t want their children to see, that is far better done at the user end” (McDermott, 2010).

Mandatory Internet filtering at the ISP level could end up costing ISPs and Australian’s more as the filtering would be an extra overhead cost. ISPs would need to invest in additional network capacity to cope with the increase in bandwidth (Bambauer, 2008, p. 17). Though the government stated that their trials proved that an ISP filter can accurately target the websites listed in the ACMA ‘blacklist’ without a noticeable impact to internet access speeds (McDermott, 2010).

On November 10 2012, the ALP backed down on the mandatory Internet filtering policy. “Top-down, one-size-fits-all approaches to dealing with these challenges, such as the government’s now-abandoned mandatory internet filter, are not appropriate, nor likely to be effective in terms of outcomes or value for money” (Lawrence, 2012). Due to the overwhelming obstacles faced by the ALP’s proposed policy, the government finally accepted that mandatory Internet filtering via ISPs was unworkable and posed as a threat to free speech in Australia (Lawrence, 2012).

The failed ALP’s mandatory Internet filtering policy is an example of why Internet filtering in democratic countries, like Australia, will not work. There are many conflicting ideals of what is classed as RC and what people should be allowed to access online, regardless of age. Protecting children from sexual content, predators and child abuse is a great idea, but to parent the country’s children at the expense of all citizens’ democratic rights was never going to work. “The idea that the Internet is this scary place that parents don’t understand, that everybody needs protection from, isn’t a view that’s held by most of society” (McDermott, 2010). The question of who should filter the Internet in Australia still goes unanswered and so parents and educational intuitions of young impressionable children at this point should supervise children’s online habits to protect them from ‘inappropriate content’ online.

 

REFERENCES

Bambauer, D. (2008). Filtering in Oz: Australia’s Foray Into Internet Censorship. Brooklyn Law School.

Chapman, C. (2009). The History of the Internet in a Nutshell. Six Revisions  Retrieved 19 September, 2013, from http://sixrevisions.com/resources/the-history-of-the-internet-in-a-nutshell/

House, M. o. A. D. a. O. P. (n.d). Australian democracy: an overview.   Retrieved 20 September, 2013, from http://moadoph.gov.au/democracy/australian-democracy/

Jacobs, C. (2010). The future of internet censorship. Electronic Frontiers Australia  Retrieved 19 September, 2013, from https://www.efa.org.au/2010/09/21/the-future-of-censorship/

Lawrence, J. (2012). EFA welcomes the government’s back down on mandatory internet filtering. Electronic Frontiers Australia  Retrieved 21 September, 2013, from https://www.efa.org.au/2012/11/09/internet-filtering-backdown/

Levin, J. (2010). Internet Censorship: The Debate Rages On. Screen Education(59), 46-51.

McDermott, Q. (Writer). (2010). Access Denied [Television], Four Corners. Australia: ABC.

Simpson, B. (2008). New Labor, new censorship? Politics, religion and internet filtering in Australia. Information & Communications Technology Law, 17(3), 167-183.

 

What facilitates effective online collaboration and organisation?

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Online collaboration is the process where individuals engage within a group using Web 2.0 technologies to achieve a common goal (Blau, 2011, pp. 22-23).

Participants within these online collaborative groups expand upon each other’s contributions through tools available via the Internet. To facilitate effective use of online collaboration and organisation, institutions and groups need to have an understanding of the tools and language used within the collaboration, social capital, satisfied active contributors, personal motives and most of all it should have trust among the collaborative community. This essay attempts to show what facilitates effective online collaboration and organisation with theories explored by Ina Blau (2011), and Molly Wasko and Samer Faraj (2005), as well as using examples from the case studies Twitter and Political Protest and Wikipedia. This post will also explore why participants in collaborative communities choose to share in online collaborations and what their expected reciprocated reward is for participating.

Wasko and Faraj hypothesises on knowledge contribution emphasises on the reasons why people choose to participate in online collaborative communities. These include reputation, individual motivations, structural capital, cognitive capital, and relational capital (Wasko & Faraj, 2005, p. 40). Blau’s theories add to Wasko and Faraj knowledge contribution theories and also highlights that online collaboration is effective with reasons to participate such as social capital and personal motive factors including personal satisfaction, self-efficacy, and drive to acquire knowledge (Blau, 2011, pp. 27, 29, 30).

Blau’s theory on social capital is about what can be obtained from knowing others, for example knowledge. It’s about being apart of a social network, being known and having a good reputation amongst the group (Blau, 2011, p. 27). “Reputation is an important asset that an individual can leverage to achieve and maintain status within a collective” (Wasko & Faraj, 2005, p. 39). Building up a good reputation is a great motivator for members of an online collaboration to have as it encourages them to participate and share more knowledge with others. Individual users perceive that if they participate, it will enhance their reputation in their profession and are more likely to contribute and respond within the collaborative group (Wasko & Faraj, 2005, p. 40). Many individuals alleviate their fears of the risks involved in sharing information by choosing to share in environments that maximise their reputation benefits (Di Gangi, Wasko, & Tang, 2012, p. 372). Social capital also includes credibility, trust, relationships, loyalty, value and word of mouth communication, which social networks are built around (Attia, Nergis, & Mahdy, 2011).

Social capital is particularly important amongst Wikipedia members, known as Wikipedians. The better the reputation a Wikipedian has amongst their community, the better chance they have in moving up the ranks into an administrator role, and the more they are trusted by other Wikipedians that their contributions are credible. “If a participant wants to accrue more credibility, one way to do so is by participating in multiple channels; this requires a substantial time commitment” (Forte & Bruckman, 2005, p. 6). An example Andrea Forte and Amy Bruckman (2005) provide refers to a wikipedian who may never cause any trouble and creates and contributes a massive amount of quality content, but no body would know who they are. But there are Wikipedians that brag about their contributions, create a complete user page filled with their all accomplishments, and are actively acquiring creditability within the Wikipedia community. These are the individuals who get voted in as administrators (Forte & Bruckman, 2005, p. 4). Wikipedians choose topics that they believe will build upon their reputation in their chosen profession. To build their reputation in the Wikipedia community they contribute and respond more with other members within the group. Building a good reputation is a great motivator and does help facilitate an effective online collaboration and organisation, especially in the case of Wikipedia.

Another example of the social capital theory is the Egyptian “Revolution 2.0” of 2011. This is believed to be the direct impact of protesters using social networks, in particular Twitter. “Social networks supply people with opportunities to be apart of international communities that enable them to communicate their shared thoughts, information, and recommendations” (Attia, Nergis, & Mahdy, 2011, p. 370). The perception of trust, relationships, loyalty and value are likely to affect individual’s behaviour and their use of Twitter towards political change (Attia, Nergis, & Mahdy, 2011, p. 372). This is particularly important in the Egyptian “Revolution 2.0” as the people of Egypt could trust the words of others who were calling for the uprising. This trust reduced social ambiguity amongst Egyptians and the information provided by others on Twitter was viewed as credible and trustworthy (Attia, Nergis, & Mahdy, 2011, p. 372). This builds upon individual users reputation as a trustworthy source of information thus making Twitter an effective online collaborative tool to use in the case of Egypt’s Revolution 2.0.

There are many reasons why individuals choose to contribute and share within a collaborative group. Blau (2011) created a list of personal motivation factors that need to be considered, including individual satisfaction, self-efficacy, belief in how their own actions can make an effect, and intrinsic drive to acquire knowledge. (Blau, 2011, p. 30) There are also social motivation factors to consider, which include a desire to participate in producing a collective good, a need for support, and a need for belonging to the group (Blau, 2011, p. 30). When individual users believe that they are making a difference, they participate regardless of what other members are contributing (Blau, 2011, p. 31). Individual’s personal belief motivates them to contribute knowledge, even in the absence of reciprocity reward and personal social connection (Wasko & Faraj, 2005, p. 39).

Twitter is an excellent online tool that is used during many political protests in recent times. Before the era of social media, individuals might have felt alone in having concerns about the political unjust around the world. Social networks, such as Twitter, have allowed protesters to band together and find other individuals that share similar concerns and start organising ways of making a difference (Hayes, 2012, p. 2). During the G-20 Summit in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 2009, Elliot Madison used Twitter as a way to inform other protesters where police blockages were being set up so the protestors could find ways to get to the Summit (Ems, 2009, p. 3). Madison believed that his actions had made a difference, despite his arrest. Madison is an example of using personal and social motivations to contribute to an online collaboration.

According to Andrea Ciffolilli (2003), the factors behind why individuals participate within Wikipedia voluntarily are because of personal and social motivations. The most active Wikipedians are pushed by strong incentives from the projects they contribute to, and their motivations are not related directly to monetary reward (Ciffolilli, 2003). The idea of the need for belonging and support within the community and the passion and desire to take part in the production of a collective good are all motivators to why Wikipedians choose to share their knowledge on the free online encyclopaedia (Ciffolilli, 2003).

In addition to personal and social motivations to why individuals participate in online collaboration and organisation is structural capital (centrality). Structural capital is the tie that links individuals within the group and is created during social interactions (Wasko & Faraj, 2005, p. 41). It can be divided up into three categories. Firstly, degree centrality, which is the number of ties that a member has. Secondly, closeness centrality, which is the inverse of the average distance between members. Thirdly, betweenness centrality, which is the importance of a member in bridging social connections, information transmission and behaviour contagion. These three different categories of structural capital indicate the different role-taking behaviours that members of a collaborative group would undertake (Wang & Zhang, 2012, pp. 4516-4518). Members within the collaboration that have a high number of direct ties to other members are more likely to develop a habit of cooperation and participation. They are most likely to act in accordance with the normalities of the group and are more willing to contribute their knowledge within the online collaboration (Wasko & Faraj, 2005, p. 41).

Chong Wang and Xiaoquan Zhang’s (2012) case study on Chinese Wikipedia investigates structural capital theories within the online collaborative group between October 2002 and February 2007 (Wang & Zhang, 2012, p. 4518). They particularly look at degree centrality, closeness centrality and betweenness centrality. Their research reviews Wikipedia contributor behaviour within the collaborative network. Wang and Zhang’s findings show that there is an increase in degree centrality when contributors decrease their effort levels, an increase in closeness centrality when both effort and focus is reduced, and betweenness centrality increases effort and focus (Wang & Zhang, 2012, p. 4521). Their case study of the structural capital in Chinese Wikipedia shows that there are varying levels of centrality over time from contributors. Different aspects of the structural capital theory have different implications on effort and devotion over time (Wang & Zhang, 2012, p. 4521). Therefore different aspects of structural capital at different times help to facilitate in effective online collaboration.

For an online collaboration and organisation to be effective it needs to have cognitive capital. It is the resources that make it possible for interpretations to be shared with a group (Wasko & Faraj, 2005, p. 41). “Cognitive capital contains both individual expertise, or mastery of the language within the practice, as well as experience with applying the expertise” (Wasko & Faraj, 2005, p. 41). This expertise particularly includes mastering the technology used by the collaborative group. Cognitive capital helps collaborative groups to communicate efficiently and effectively as members are speaking the same language, so to say, and are using similar knowledge structures. “High levels of cognitive capital enable teams that communicate through digital networks to integrate knowledge at levels similar to those of face-to-face environments” (Robert, Dennis, & Ahuja, 2008, p. 328). Individuals within the collaborative group with long tenure in the shared practice are more likely to understand how their expertise is relevant and are better at sharing their knowledge with the group (Wasko & Faraj, 2005, p. 42).

Governments around the world have started to pay attention to social media networks, such as Twitter, and are becoming familiar with its cognitive capital. In the case of the 2009 Iran protests, governments found Twitter to be a useful tool for monitoring protesters, gathering data, and even tracking protesters down (Grossman, 2009). The US Government in 2009 saw the value in Twitter and even asked the service to delay server upgrades during the Iran protests. “US diplomats and other public officials were monitoring Twitter use originating from Iran, and were using this ‘chatter’ on Iran’s domestic political situation as an important source of public source intelligence” (Burns & Eltham, 2009, p. 299). The US State Department had also launched an official Twitter page to communicate their views to international audiences earlier that year. It was the first time a US Government agency had acknowledged the potential role that social media plays in international events (Burns & Eltham, 2009, p. 299). The US Government are using Twitter as a tool in monitoring other countries, such as Iran in 2009, to help build future foreign policies. They are learning to master the cognitive capital of Twitter and become experts in the communications between foreign governments and their people.

Finally, to facilitate an effective online collaboration and organisation, there is a need for relational capital. This includes individuals of the online collaborative having a strong identification with the group, trust, a perceived obligation to participate, and to behave within the collaborations norms. Individuals feel the need to help out others, including strangers, and have an urge to give back to the collaboration (Wasko & Faraj, 2005, p. 42). “When there is a strong norm of reciprocity in the collective, individuals trust that their knowledge contribution efforts will be reciprocated, thereby rewarding the individual efforts and ensuring ongoing contribution” (Wasko & Faraj, 2005, p. 43).

Wikipedia is a perfect example of relational capital at it’s finest in online collaboration. Wikipedian’s seek to collaborate and publish true facts about the world. They are highly productive individuals who collaborate authorship where they contribute to an open-content encyclopaedia by adding to or revising other Wikipedian contributions (Forte & Bruckman, 2005, p. 1). This behaviour is a reciprocation of others who would contribute to their own topics, which they have created. Wikipedian’s feel like it is their duty to keep the content published on Wikipedia free from “graffiti” and to maintain high quality content (Ciffolilli, 2003). This reinforces that Wikipedian’s have strong identifications with the content being collaborated throughout the website, ensuring it’s reputation and credibility as a reliable knowledge resource.

This essay has attempted to demonstrate what facilitates effective online collaboration and organisation. The theories presented by Wasko and Faraj, and Blau have shown that there are many varying factors that contribute to the effectiveness of an online collaborative group. Their theories have been proven with examples from the case studies of Twitter and Political Protest and Wikipedia. Individuals have many reasons to participate in a online collaboration that range from personal and social motivations, to building credibility and a reputation, not only online but in their profession, to wanting to make connections with others who have the same beliefs and passions as they do. An online collaboration also needs to have strong ties between members of the group, a desire for participation from members in the form of reciprocation, meaning individuals contribute not only on their own input but on other contributions too, and developing expertise with the tools used in the collaborative group. But for a online collaboration and organisation to be effective there needs to be trust between individuals of the online group. Without trust there would be no collaboration.

References

Attia, A., Nergis, A., & Mahdy, E. (2011). Commentary: The impact of social networking tools on political change in Egypt’s “Revolution 2.0”. Electronic Commerce Research and Applications , 369-374.

Blau, I. (2011). E-Collaboration Within, Between, and Without Institutions: Towards Better Functioning of Online Groups Through Networks. International Journal of e-Collaboration , 22-36.

Burns, A., & Eltham, B. (2009). Twitter Free Iran: An Evaluation of Twitter’s Role in Public Diplomacy and Information Operations in Iran’s 2009 Election Crisis. Record of the Communications Policy & Research Forum 2009 , 298-310.

Ciffolilli, A. (2003 1-December). Phantom authority, self-selective recuritment and retention of members in virtual communities: The case of Wikipedia. Retrieved 2013 24-January from First Monday: http://firstmonday.org/article/view/1108/1028

Di Gangi, P., Wasko, M., & Tang, X. (2012). Would you share? Examining knowledge type and communication channel for knowledge sharing within and across the organizational boundary. International Journel of Knowledge Management , 1-21.

Ems, L. (2009). Twitter use in Iranian, Moldovan and G-20 summit protests presents new challenges for governments. Indiana University. Bloomington: Indiana University.

Forte, A., & Bruckman, A. (2005). Why Do People Write for Wikipedia? Incentives to Contribute to Open-Content Publishing. GROUP 05 Workshop: Sustaining Community: The Role and Design of Incentive Mechanisms in Online Systems. Sanibel Island, FL (pp. 1-6). Georgia: GROUP 05 Workshop.

Grossman, L. (2009 17-June). Iran’s Protests: Why Twitter is the Medium of the Movement. Retrieved 2012 11-December from TIME: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1905125,00.html

Hayes, P. (2012 January). Social Media is rejuvenating political protest. Retrieved 2012 22-December from Debating Matters: http://www.debatingmatters.com/documents/DM_TopicGuidesClicktivism.pdf

Robert, L., Dennis, A., & Ahuja, M. (2008). Social Capital and Knowledge Integration in Digitally Enabled Teams. Information Systems Research , 19 (3), 314–334.

Wang, C., & Zhang, X. (2012). Network Centrality and Contributions to Online Public Good – The Case of Chinese Wikipedia. 2012 45th Hawaii International Conference on Sytem Sciences , 4515-4524.

Wasko, M. M., & Faraj, S. (2005). Why Should I Share? Examining Social Capital And Knowledge Contribution In Electronic Networks Of Practice. MIS Quarterly , 35-57.

Create a Business Facebook Page – No Personal Profile Required!

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So you don’t have a personal profile on Facebook but see the need to have a business page? Want to avoid your staff being distracted by personal Facebook accounts while managing the business presence?

Follow these 5 basic steps to create a new business page on Facebook without using a personal profile.


This video produced for a University project and originally posted at http://socialstartup.comyr.com/create-a-business-facebook-page/

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Australia License.

Don’t Set and Forget! 4 Things Every Business Owner Should Do with Their Web Presence

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When you started your small business, you were probably told you need your own website. Having a web presence is very important to help people find out more information about what your business is and what goods and/or services you offer. But as social media increasingly grows in popularity in all age groups, adding social media to your web presence portfolio is growing in importance too.

The following 4 tips will help you set your business social media presence up and give you ideas on how to maintain it.

1) Setup a Social Network Presence

You don’t need to be on all the social networks on the web. Ideally pick the social networks that appeal to your target markets . In Australia the top 3 social network sites in 2012 were

To help people to find you easily on your selected social network sites, it’s ideal to use a consistent user name across them. Click here to see if your desired username is available.

Also don’t forget to keep your social network information updated. Read The 10 Commandments of Social Media for Brands and consider these when maintaining your social network presence.

2) Add Social Network Feeds on Your Business Website Homepage

Now that you have your social networks set up for your business, tie them back to your websites home page. Static websites can fall quickly in Google search rankings. An easy way to keep your homepage active is to have feeds from your social networks, where you will be updating regularly.

Speak to your web developer about adding your social network feeds to your website homepage.

3) Use a Social Network Aggregator Tool

You have set up your business presence on selected social media networks, but you want to send out the same message across them all, but don’t want to retype your message for each service. That’s where social network aggregator tools come in handy.

There are a sea of aggregator tools to choose from, but the best of the bunch is Hootsuite.

Hootsuite is a social media management dashboard that allows you to monitor several social media accounts on the one screen. Update your status and schedule future updates across multiple services with one handy tool. Managing your business social media presence just became easier. And best of all it’s free to use.  Check out PCMag’s review.

4) Take the Time to Update

Most importantly, you need to take the time each week, or even better every day, to share, update and respond to customers through your social network channels.

Focus on activities where you can make the best impact. Make a plan of what you want to say. Just like any other marketing strategy for business, you need to plan what you want to say and do on your social media networks.

Also respond quickly to customers who contact you on your social media networks. If you are perceived as an efficient, caring business, then these happy customers will recommend you to their friends.

After taking in these useful tips on improving your web presence, I leave you with this closing quote which sums up why having a active social media presence is important to every small business.

“A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is – it is what consumers tell each other it is.” – Scott Cook, co-founder, Intuit

Original Posting of this article was for a group project at http://socialstartup.comyr.com/dont-set-and-forget/

(This article also features in the latest John Church Advertising Newsletter)

 

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Australia License.

 

We are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists – Brian Knappenberger

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This documentary by Brian Knappenberger is “an informative film that begins to unravel the mystery of Anonymous” (JustCuriosity, 2012). It explains the philosophy of Anonymous, what they believe and why members risk their own freedom to speak out against governments, religious groups and other public figures that they believe are suppressing free speech.

There are interviews with Anonymous members who share their experiences with the lash backs from the FBI and how they served jail time for their part in distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks on websites. This documentary also explains what members of Anonymous would do in a target attack, ranging from phone pranks to protests, like the attack on Church of Scientology where all around the world members of Anonymous would disguise their identity with masks and face coverings, turn up to the Church of Scientology offices and protest against the religions beliefs (Knappenberger, 2012). What makes this protest unique is that it was organised online and no one knew who anyone else was.

Knappenberger has created an interesting overview on the life of a hacktivist and members of Anonymous. He has shown how targeted attacks happen, the results both good and bad from these attacks and what the legal ramifications can be if you take part in illegal DDoS attacks and are identified by the FBI. Mercedes Haefer, who was arrested for participating in DDoS attacks against PayPal, says the average jail time for a paedophile is 11 years, for a computer hacker you can face 15 years (Knappenberger, 2012).

Knappenberger shows hacktivists in both good and bad light and has given me a better understanding on what Anonymous stands for. It crossed over with many of the articles I found on Twitter and Political Protest as Anonymous use Twitter to organise and expose plans for attacks to recruit people to join their fight. I would recommend anyone who is researching Anonymous to watch this documentary.