Weeks Three and Four in CSC 442 Section B at UIS – Transcript

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Today’s podcast is about Weeks 3 and 4 in CSC 442 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, February 9th, 2014.  I'm speaking to you from my rented condo in beautiful Naples, Florida.  My wife was visiting here this past week, and for her, being in Florida is a vacation from work - so we went to Sanibel and Captiva, to Miami Beach, to Marco Island, and of course, to the beach in Naples.  We dined at some nice restaurants, and enjoyed the warm, sunny weather in south Florida.  It was a really good break for her - especially when they had another big winter storm back in east-central Illinois this week.  As an aside, I saw that on-campus classes were cancelled at UIS on Tuesday evening and all-day Wednesday - and that's one thing we don't have to worry about here in our online class!

OK now, on with the podcast.  This past week, in Week Three of our course, we discussed broadband, and how broadband is changing what we can do when we go online.  I was amazed to find that so many of you -- in fact, almost all of you -- have broadband access in your homes, and that a number of you also have wireless routers in your homes.  And how broadband access is something that you really can’t live without - that you never could go back to dial-up.  I have to say, the widespread adoption of broadband really is one of the key reasons that podcasting has taken off, since the mp3 files that are podcast can be as large as one megabyte for every minute of audio.  Not to mention streaming video over the Internet, where the bandwidth requirements are even greater than for audio.

However, we did see that several students don't have very good connectivity in their homes in rural parts of Illinois.  We also learned that there are still a number of people in our country who are accessing the Internet through dial-up connections, or through lower-bandwidth satellite service, in rural areas, and we discussed the many reasons for this.  And we looked at the future of broadband into the home - 3G and 4G cellular networks, WiMAX, and BPL - that is, broadband over power lines.  We also looked at initiatives to provide city-wide wireless broadband access, and we discussed why today's economic climate is limiting the actual deployment of these networks.  We also discussed the role of government in the deployment of area-wide broadband networks.  I found it interesting to see that the state of Illinois is funding a new test - deploying gigabit networks in selected communities across Illinois, as a way to create smart communities that will foster job creation.

We also looked at Google's initiative to deploy ultra-fast gigabit networks in selected cities across the nation.  This network would provide fiber-optic connections to every home and be 100-times faster that what most Americans have access to today.  We looked at some of the new activities we could do with such fast networks, including better-than DVD quality videoconferencing, super-fast downloads of full-length digital movies, 3-D television and holograms, and a fully-networked home accessible from anywhere.

I was glad to see that many of you checked your bandwidth and posted the results to our discussion forum in Blackboard.  We saw some very significant differences in access speed between those students who had various types of connections.  But the bottom line is that almost everyone has a connection that is so much faster than dial-up.  However, we can’t lose track of the fact that the ("quote-unquote") "broadband" access that we have in our homes in the United States is much slower than what is found in other countries, including Japan, France, and Sweden - countries that have invested into deploying fiber optic cables directly into homes, and this may be putting our citizens at a competitive disadvantage.

Well, moving on to Week Four now.  This coming week, in Week Four, we'll be looking at several reports from the Pew Internet and American Life Project that deal with social networking sites - sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

The first Pew report is entitled Social networking sites and our lives.  Questions have been raised about the social impact of widespread use of social networking sites.  Do these technologies isolate people and truncate their relationships?  Or, are there benefits associated with being connected to others in this way?  This Pew Internet Project report examines people’s overall use of social networking and how use of these technologies is related to trust, tolerance, social support, and community and political engagement.

The second Pew report, which is entitled Why Americans use social media, expands on the first report, finding that two-thirds of online adults use social media platforms. These Internet users say that connections with family members and friends (both new and old) are a primary consideration in their adoption of social media tools. Other factors are also involved - for example, connecting around a shared hobby or interest and reading comments by public figures.

The third Pew report is entitled
72% of Online Adults are Social Networking Site Users.  This reports looks into greater detail on how adults use social networking sites.  Although younger adults continue to be the most likely social media users, one of the more striking stories about the social networking population has been the growth among older Internet users, such as myself, in recent years. Those ages 65 and older have roughly tripled their presence on social networking sites in the last four years.

Three additional Pew reports on the topic of social networking are also listed on the course syllabus - these reports are completely optional, but they do contain some additional information on this timely topic.  Again, you don't have to read these reports - they are completely optional, but they are included on the syllabus for completeness.

With the extensive use of Facebook and other social media by many of us, our Week Four topic of social networking certainly is timely and relevant.  I'm looking forward to our discussion in the forum in Blackboard this coming week.

Finally, I want to say a few words to get you thinking about your first paper, which is due on Friday, March 14th.  Only a few of you have selected your topics for this paper already, and I really hope that the rest of you will choose a topic sometime soon.  If you want to brainstorm about possible topics, feel free to contact your fellow classmates in the Paper One discussion forum in Blackboard – or just get in touch with me directly.  I would like to say one important thing about this assignment – I want to emphasize over and over again that this paper should be about YOU and how the Internet has impacted YOUR life.  It isn’t to be a paper about how other people use the Internet.  It shouldn't give instructions to the readers on how they could use the Internet.  So if you are writing about how you have a business buying and selling things on eBay, it should be about YOUR business.  It should NOT tell someone else what to look for when they make a bid on something, and it should NOT tell the readers how they can make payments with PayPal.  It shouldn’t give instructions to the reader.  It has to be about YOU and YOUR experiences.  Very, very personal.  And note that you can submit an audio recording – a podcast, if you will – instead of a paper – and I have a handout linked to the main course website that describes this audio alternative.

Well, I hope that you all are enjoying the class so far.  If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me.  [additional sentences here - VERY important to listen to the audio...]

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

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