Thursday, September 25, 2008

CNN Joins the Web 2.0 Bandwagon

CNN, the reknown organization offering up to the minute, impartial news, is now joining the Web 2.0 revolution by adding the subset iReport to its website. The addition of iReport allows viewers to contribute news and be involved with the dissemination of news through a major media vehicle. With the world of blogging taking over conventional forms of news, this move to include iReport into their website can allow CNN to keep up with the changing trend.

There are many differences that can be spotted between the traditional CNN format and iReport. The CNN homepage is divided into geographic regions and top stories are separated by topic. Politics dominates the headlines, although other hard hitting news and significant human interest stories are featured as well. The stories are updated regularly and are constantly being rotated as news is breaking.

iReport is supported by submissions from readers, and therefore it is difficult to determine how often the news is updated. The news featured on iReport is personalized material that may not be considered newsworthy by conventional terms. iReport also incorporates many different features of the Web 2.0 revolution, including Twitter and Second Life.

-Marion Herbert & Jessica McClanahan

Baby Steps Towards Blogosphere Credibility

Millions of citizens are regularly updating their blogs or posting YouTube videos with the idealistic hope of being “the one” who exposes the truth. They dream of being a hero among amateur writers by posting what they believe will shed light on a scandal with the government or a corporate giant.

Allowing the average Joe to voice their opinions so freely through the Web 2.0 revolution has had a twofold effect. In some respects, it provides additional checks and balances on our government, major media vehicles, and big corporations. The downfall is that most of these postings are based solely on opinion without credible sources. Without integrity, these writers are almost immediately cast off as being radical conspiracy theorists. Some postings are simply perpetuating rumors, while others make valid points but with little to no proof to back them up.

I found one blog on that I found to hold some validity. The blog was originally posted on, a medical student’s blogging site to discuss medicine and genetics using Web 2.0 tools. While politics and pop culture can be heavily debated, I still like to believe that science can provide irrefutable facts and I therefore turned to a medical blog to seek some truth.

The blog discusses Sergey Brin, the co-founder of Google, and his announcement that he has a predisposition to Parkinson’s disease. Brin claims to have discovered this through the use of 23andMe, a personalized genetic company co-founded by his wife. In Brin’s blog, he exaggerates and sensationalizes his findings and claims he has an 80 percent chance of having Parkinson’s later in life, and goes on to say how happy he is he discovered this early through the use of 23andMe.

The blog refutes Brin’s claims by having Steve Murphy, a genetics fellow at Yale University, analyze Brin’s data. Murphy claims that Brin’s statements were completely embellished. Brin does not carry the gene that is the leading cause of Parkinson’s, and if he did, it would not ensure him to have an 80 percent chance of contracting it.

This blog did not receive an outrageous amount of press attention. There were no books written about it or guest spots for the author on any late night talk shows. However, his well organized, logical posting did expose the Google founder as a man who misinterpreted genetic data to gain media attention for his wife’s cause. If more blogs could be this rational and fact based, blogs may be accepted as a legitimate source of information and more credit could be given to the amateur.

Despite this blog and other’s significant findings, I still prefer good old fashioned articles and books, like the glory days of Woodward and Berstein, to crack a conspiracy theory.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Hi, My name is Marion and I am a Google User

The Web 2.0 revolution has democratized the media, allowing everyone, despite their credentials, to post information onto the web. With no guardians double checking the facts, there is no guarantee that the information you are finding is valid.

I unconsciously tested this theory this past weekend. As much as I would like to think that I am not one of the millions of blind followers using and abusing the web for quick references and information, I was guilty of just that when I found myself actually “Googling” another homework assignment on Plato’s theory of knowledge.

In my course we have three textbooks; three credible, reliable, thorough textbooks with a plethora of facts and cited examples to successfully inform any reader of an overview of Plato’s early political theories. However, these textbooks, with their lofty language, excessive footnotes, and hundreds of daunting pages, can be a bit tedious to sift through. For my political theory class, I needed to study for a quiz and brush up on Plato’s theories of justice and knowledge. My notes were scattered and the textbook discusses the topics briefly in each chapter. I was hoping for answers. I wanted the breakdown of knowledge and justice theories in a condensed, clean, crisp form, something my textbook wasn’t offering me.

My natural instinct is to Google this information. I first typed in “dekay,” one of Plato’s examples of justice, and found my number one Google hot spot to be a blog by a dancer and chemist from Munich, Germany who writes about tango topics ( I then refined my search to try look for “Plato justice knowledge.” The fourth source down the list offered by Google was a link to AntiEssay, a free essay website where anyone can post any essay they want regarding any topic ( These essays, written by amateurs, are posted as factual, reliable references, although they are not. The author of this particular essay had completely inverted the Divided Line theory of knowledge, placing imagination after belief. According to my textbook, this is completely wrong and destroys the entire concept of the Divided Line theory. Being no Plato expert, there could have been countless other mistakes in the essay that I didn’t even realize were false.

It’s important for this generation to kick or Google addiction. This high powered search engine does not always generate the most credible sources of information, and we are suffering for continuing to use them.

My textbook reference….

Klosko, George. History of Political Theory: An Introduction to Ancient and Medieval Political Theory. Wadsworth: California, 2002.