Weeks 13 and 14 in CSC442 Section B at UIS

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Today’s podcast is about Weeks 13 and 14 in CSC442 Section B at the University of Illinois at Springfield.  For more information, visit the blog at csc442b.blogspot.com.

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Well, welcome back!  This is Burks Oakley, and today is Sunday, April 27th, 2014.  I'm speaking to you today from my home office in Champaign, Illinois.  I had a busy week this past week - and the highlight of my week was attending the student awards banquet on Thursday evening for the Electrical & Computer Engineering Department on the Urbana campus of the University of Illinois.  I worked for 27 years in that department, and I've endowed a student award and a number of student scholarships.  It always is enjoyable to meet the students who are receiving this recognition, and to talk with them about their classes, their summer jobs, and their plans for the future.  This banquet is always held at the end of April, and it reminds me that the semester is almost over - in fact, we now have less than two weeks left in the Spring 2014 semester. 

Well, on with the podcast now.  This past week, in Week 13, we discussed several publications from the Pew Internet and American Life Project – and those reports dealt with Internet news - including online news aggregators such as Google News.

We discussed the impact that online news is having on newspapers and television - and how many newspapers have either gone out of business, or have ceased printing a paper version.  And how other newspapers are trying to charge for access to some articles that they publish on the web.  I have a paid subscription to the New York Times website - I simply find the NY Times so valuable that I am willing to pay for it.  And I have to say that I was surprised that so many students in the class said that they would never pay for online content - "since it is on the Internet, it should be free".  Hey, who is going to write and edit the articles if there isn't a significant revenue stream?

A number of students in our class seemed dismissive of online news - saying that there were just too many bogus news sites on the web, but I disagree with that point of view, since all the reputable news organizations are publishing online - and hey, do you believe all the articles that you read in the supermarket tabloids?

I was surprised also by the discussion of Google News vs. CNN - it seems that some students thought that Google was in the business of reporting the news, like CNN or the NY Times, rather than just aggregating news stories that are found from searching the web.  Oh well, I hope that these students now have a better understanding of Google News.

Overall, it seems that many students rely on online news - for local news, using sites like the Peoria Journal-Star and the Springfield State Journal-Register, and for national and international news, using everything from CNN.com to the BBC online.  I'm not sure that many students are active in using Google News, with customized news topics - and I know that just a few students are using Twitter to track breaking news stories as they happen.  In fact, I have to say that I have been observing a trend over the past few semesters - it seems that many students don't really have an interest in the news and don't really want to know what is going on in the world - saying that the news is too depressing.  Gosh, that's not what I expect from a group of educated people.

I have "liked" the official Facebook pages for certain news organizations, such as the Washington Post, and I get news articles posted to my Facebook "news items" on a regular basis.  Of course, a number of my Facebook friends regularly post news items for their friends to see.  And now people can "recommend" certain articles on news websites, such as the NY Times website, so that when their Facebook friends go to that website, they see all the articles that their friends have recommended.

Finally, I should add that I really like using my iPad to access news apps.  OK, I'll admit that I like to read the news in bed, before going to sleep - and my iPad is perfect for this.  I regularly use apps for the Washington Post, Politico, the Huffington Post, and Zite.  As I mentioned in our Week Thirteen discussion forum, Zite is an aggregator that lets you customize the feeds that you view - I highly recommend it to everyone!

OK, I guess that about sums up our Week 13 discussions.

Well, moving on to Week 14 now, we’ll be looking at four papers from the Pew Internet and American Life Project that focus on Internet video - something that really has taken off in the past few years, as more and more people have broadband access in their homes and on their mobile devices.  We'll be reading four reports, and they are entitled The State of Online Video, 71% of online adults now use video-sharing sites, Video Calling and Video Chat, and Photos and Videos as Social Currency Online.

We'll see that as the audience for online video continues to grow, a leading edge of Internet users are migrating their viewing from their computer screens to their TV screens.  At the same time, more cell phone users are opting for the convenience of watching video on smaller screens via their handheld devices.

One of the reports on online video found that the share of online adults who watch videos on video-sharing sites has nearly doubled since 2006. More than two-thirds of adult Internet users have watched video on these sites, up from just one-third who reported this a few years previously.  Over time, online video has also become a bigger fixture in everyday life - I know that I can sure spend a lot of time on YouTube and Hulu if I'm not careful.


It is hard for me to believe that YouTube is now more than eight years old.  As an aside, Google bought YouTube for $1.65 billion in November 2006 - and that's a lot of money, even for Google!

It seems that we will have lots to cover in Week Fourteen - and I'm looking forward to our online discussions in Blackboard.

Finally, remember that your second paper is due on May 9th, which is now less than two weeks away.  I can't believe that there are still several of you who have not yet selected your topic for this paper, and others who have yet to participate in a meaningful way in the “Phase One” discussions.  Remember that 10% of your grade on the Paper Two assignment is based on the assistance that you provide for OTHER students in our Phase One discussions; I expect that each of you will assist other students with their research, by finding additional online sources that they can use in writing their papers.  I sure would like to see more activity in that discussion forum in the next few days.  Overall, I hope that your research is going well, and that you are finding good online references about laws and public policies to use when writing your papers.  Remember that I posted some good papers that were submitted for this assignment in previous semesters – you might want to read through them before starting to write your own paper. 

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Well, that wraps up this podcast, so until next time, this is Burks, signing off.

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