1 com

The pros and cons of Social Networking Sites - A Literature Review.


We are currently living within the Social Networking generation, where keeping in contact with your family and friends has never been easier, with a few moments on a social networking site you can be updated with every one's latest news, photos videos and opinions online. Despite this being a revolutionary tool that was created with only positives in mind, a place for building trust on a global scale(W3C,2009) the online world we know and live with means that Social Networking also has its cons.

It can be considered that with the use Social Networking sites, comes ignorance to one’s personal security and personal profiling. With the World Wide Web, and what is known as Web 2.0. Users of such websites as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and others; openly upload personal and sometimes private information to what is really  an open source of infinite data, that whether with consent or not, is available to almost anybody else that has access to the Internet. This in itself creates an extremely large security and privacy issue for all users involved.

This is shown by the case of MySpace(NYTIMES.COM, 2009) which addresses a large issue of sex offenders.  MySpace was found to have 90,000 registered sex offenders holding accounts on their website. Myspace also holds a large demographic of under 18 users. These statistics alone present a large con with Social Networking. MySpace and all other social networking sites state that they will remove any members showing predatory tendencies towards minors and or any members at all. A recent example of this is Twitter being scrutinised for not taking action against sex offenders on its site. Twitter released a statement insisting that they “dealt with complaints as quickly and thoroughly as possible”, And that it “plans within the next few months to have a team working 24 hours a day in order to investigate complaints.”, (Buckler, 2012). It still leaves a large question as to how many sexual offenders, registered or not, have access to thousands of peoples profiles, photos, private information(sometimes, numbers, addresses and other locational information).

But then, there are pros to holding a Social Networking account. Many users are smart and aware when using the Internet, making their profiles extremely limited, and private to anyone that they have not given direct permission and access to.This allows such users to network amongst friends, family and colleagues, knowing that their information is secure and unobtainable by most other Internet users. With this, Users can enjoy sharing and uploading, photo’s, and text, regarding their opinion, news, and comments. Users have the ability to, over time, build a record and a form of diary that can be reviewed and looked back on in years to come; creating a place of memories and social interaction.

But  enjoying a secure and private Internet environment is not always the case with some users, and this is normally due to no fault of their own.  Many social networking sites have default privacy settings. However, Facebook for example, is continually evolving both aesthetically and technologically, and with this has changed it's default privacy settings,  For example Facebook’s privacy settings have noticeably changed over the last 5 years, leaving a large amount of users profile information openly available to the online community. Using information from a graphical representation (McKeon, 2010), I will display the starting settings that were established with Facebook in 2005, and what the privacy settings became over time, resulting in a different set of standards in 2010.

According to McKeon (2010), in 2005 default privacy settings allowed only friends to view all information, other Facebook users to view limited information and non-Facebook users to have no access to any information at all. However in 2010 this default had transformed to allow friends, other Facebook users and non-Facebook users, to view everything on one’s Facebook profile, excluding contact information and your date of birth. This is almost opening anybody that is not consciously cautious with their privacy is open for many forms of attack, including aforementioned child abuse, and Identity Theft. Despite your contact information being hidden, using all other information available, an individual with the right skills including Social Engineering, and online information gathering, can create a full and extensive profile on you, which can leave you open and vulnerable to identity theft.  Bilge, Strufe, Balzarotti & Kirda(2009) launched successful automated identity theft attacks on real Facebook users, demonstrating that with the right skills and tools, Facebook users are vulnerable to such attacks. This only seems to show that Facebook’s administration team have progressively weakened their users security over only a few years.

At the same time it can be seen that privacy within some Social Networks, is not required, in some cases the opposite can have benefits.. I was asked to come along to Manchester University’s Computer Science Department, to help test, and give my perspective, as a Social Networking user and as one of generation that are submersed within this culture. The Social Networking site that they have been developing has been a collaboration with other teams, such as Southampton University’s e-Research department. The Social Network is www.myexperiment.org/, (still in it’s Alpha Stages) the site itself is standard practice in allowing members to add friends, family, to discuss, post images and opinions, but with a twist. It is designed to be used by an academic community, being used to share Scientific studies, results and detailed Work Flows. Members are asked to share, and spread their findings across the network, allowing free and open source information that can be used and adapted, teams and projects to be created, advancements in research to be made due to the coming together of many. I feel that this is a large positive of Social Networking, even though the site itself can be seen to appeal to a niche market of academics and professionals. The results of such a site, are boundless, users have free roam to express their knowledge in a friendly and open environment. Exactly what the World Wide Web and Web 2.0 were intended for.

A Con that we can all, even slightly, relate to is addiction. Internet addiction has been something heavily addressed for a while, covering anything from Online Gaming, to basic chat rooms but it now comes a time that Social Networking Sites are now a subcategory of Internet addiction. D. Karaiskos, E. Tzavellas, G. Balta, T. Paparrigopoulos(2010) Presented a Case study carried out on a 24-year-old woman indicating tell tell signs of addiction, that went as far as to her losing her job and spending most of her time at home checking her facebook news feed. The report states that she used the internet prior to social networking sites for up to 7 years, and felt no addiction until her introduction to facebook.  Any addiction can be looked upon as a con. Addictions can cause depression and anxiety, and an addiction that causes a user to remain indoors with no real social interaction in the real world; is something that needs to be looked into further.
Social Networking sites must consider that due to the evidence that Social Networking addiction is a real, and serious thing, implementation of limitations must be brought into place. By allowing the user, or their parents/guardian control over the amount of time they spend on networking sites could greatly decrease the threat of Internet and Social Networking addiction.

The Internet is growing, and Social Networking Sites can be traced to the main source of this growth, it’s an open world full of connections to people, that otherwise would have been alienated. Positives seem to flourish in the world of Web 2.0, especially for those who keep their information secure and monitor their online presence. However, Social Networks need to continue to address the threats of predatory online behavior and identity theft, whilst considering allowing some form of limitations to their users. As mentioned before, the Internet is an open world, and as in real society, there are those who will steal, lie and cheat. Ignorance to this, self preservation, and to ones online presence is a problem we all face, and a con for Social Networking Sites but in taking the necessary steps, these cons can be mostly avoided and the pros can be enjoyed.






References
Bilge, L., Strufe, T., Balzarotti, D., Kirda, E. (2009, April 20-24). All your contacts are belong to us: automated identity theft attacks on social networks. Paper presented at International World Wide Web conference. Retrieved from http://www2009.eprints.org/56/

Buckler, C. (11 January 2012). Twitter ‘failing’ on child abuse, CEOP watchdog warns. BBC News, Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-16508481

Karaiskos, D., Tzavellas, E., Balta, G., Paparrigopoulos, T. (2010). P02-232 - Social network addiction : a new clinical disorder?, European Psychiatry, Vol. 25, pp.855-855.

McKeon, M. 2010. The Evolution of Privacy on Facebook. Retrieved January 9 from http://www.mattmckeon.com/Facebook-privacy/

W3C, 2009. World Wide Web Consortium. [online] Available at: <http://www.w3.org/Consortium/mission#vision> [Accessed 8 January 2012].

Wortham, J. (3 Febuary 2009). MySpace Turns Over 90,000 Names of Registered Sex Offenders. New York Times, Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/04/technology/internet/04myspace.html
0 com

Exciting months/years

As I've said, I'm studying software engineering, and intend to specify towards level 5/6 of my course, this will mean learning a few programming languages. But with my intentions to undertake a few projects and webapp development, I'm going through the process of working out what languages I may need in order to fully achieve my goals. So far I plan to learn, or in a lot of the cases, further my knowledge and reinforce what I know.

Python, HTML5, CSS, Php,Java,Google Go,C++,C#, JavaScript, Haskell and Perl.

Wish me luck.
0 com

Back at University

Well, I've been back at uni for a few days now and it's all hands on deck. It's been hectic and exciting, I've decided to embark on some new projects with a friend from my course, which is going to involve learning the google go WebScript programming language. I'm looking forward to this, and I shall let you know what I learn, and what I think of the language. We've decided to go with The Golang rather than C++, after all, and maybe implement the C++ later on, my personal reason for this choice is, I've learnt and taught myself some C++ on the past, but Go, is a brand new language to me(seemingly similar to java though) and I'm looking forward to learning it.
0 com

A day of jealousy

My previous post detailed how i was jealous of the students that will experience the ICT curriculum reform, but i've been thinking and my jealousy doesn't stop there, i'm jealous of what my children will be able to do.

There's no denying it, there's exciting times ahead, next generation gaming consoles, next generation processors, and computer sizes. We have Apple revolutionising the way we see computers, and new companies are powering in with their amazing products. But, 40 years down the line, what will we have?

I often find myself, talking amoung friends, discussing what i would want to, and what i think we'll be seeing in 'x' years, the conversations are always fun, but reach that final talking point. "if only..."

If only we could see what it will be like then, if only we could have everything now, if only we could just look 100 years ahead.
I guess that's why i love computers and why i decided to study it at University, instead of "If only..." being a stomach churning horrible feeling, i want to see if i can in any way contribute, or collaborate to create these tools, to create these computers, to advance our technology in any way shape or form, so that we don't need to live an extra 100 years.

A boy can dream, eh?
0 com

Reboot for ICT Curriculum

As the news has been stating over the last week, there are reports about the new government approach to ICT within schools and i personally have mixed feelings. (but that may just be jealousy)

Being only 20, i understand that school wasn't all that long ago, but what i can remember from ICT at school, is that it was so mind numbingly boring, and i felt my knowledge of computers, and what we were teaching surpassed that of the teacher, who really was a Geography teacher who knew very little about ICT.

Microsoft Office

When i think back on what we did, it's almost laughable, we spent most of our time, sat around carrying out intellectual murder, by simply following step by step guides, that showed us to use some of the most basic functions that the Microsoft Office package had to offer, everything from Access, to Word, not forgetting Excel; don't get me wrong, all very useful packages, but these skills should be taught within the first week or so, and from there we should be building on these skills, not just relearning them week in, week out.

So now, after spending 5 years in Secondary School, and another 2 years studying at College, i can safely look back, and say that i learnt a lot more, a lot quicker from self-teaching, than i did in those seven years.
When my passion for computing took over, i would find myself learning the more important functions that our computers have to offer, programming, web design and development, computer architecture, useful skills that will be of genuine use to myself if i follow a career in Computing.

The Government have only just realised this now? They've only just seen that Secondary School pupils, don't want to be learning the basics anymore. We live in a world of huge technological growth, out dated functions and software are more commonly found with new software being released weekly. They want to know how to make, develop, maintain. Not make do with, and use. (When i was at school, spending an hour or two using Microsoft Office, wasn't an option, instead it was much more fun to see how far passed security we could get with just MS-DOS, creating batch files, and putting flash games into Excel so that they could be played despite all the Internet bans. The fun things)

As mentioned before, technology is advancing, and so is its rate of growth, and more than ever before there is technology available to schools that will allow ICT to finally have a priority. Computers in schools have always been moderate at best, the schools have always tried, but the capabilities, for what i imagine the costs to have been, where normally pretty poor. But with developments of such things as the Raspberry Pi, and the wide variety of tablets, and notebooks, it's starting to become cheaper and easier for students to get their hands on efficient yet affordable resources, this alone will increase the productivity of students and ICT.


But what about us?

This is where jealousy comes in. I went through school learning IT was of no real help, and if it wasn't for my personal interest and motivation,  a stack of books and the Internet. I probably wouldn't be studying Software Engineering at University right now. So, yes... I am a bit jealous that kids going through school today, may know more than i did after College. If the tools, and the teaching was of a better standard 5 years ago, i would have been in my element.

But surely, this will also affect my job chances? - I want the world of technology to grow, and i want this to be done fast, meaning a lot of people must be involved in the computing world, but at the same time i really can't help, but feel a bit threatened by a reform of IT. I'm worried that this will mean a lot more people will want to do ICT at college, and university, meaning a lot more graduates to compete with me for my positions, or more directly. If you can leave School and College with a much more developed, and advanced knowledge of IT, this will open up the job choices massively, but this may also lead to College leavers, undercutting those who are going on to study further at University.


What I'm trying to say, without saying it. Is, I'm happy this is happening, it's a massive step in the right direction, and will benefit the country greatly. I mean it's about time but why could it have not have come sooner, ie when i was at school.


0 com

Twitter on SOPA




If you've been interested by the news and coverage of SOPA, then you will find this interesting.

It's a graphcial representation of the top 1000 tweeters and mentions, that can be seen surrounding SOPA on Social Networking Site Twitter.

A full link to the entire visualisation can be found here.
0 com

My old blog,

I just found my old blog from 2008. Wow, it really has been a long time and a lot has changed.
My old site can be found here.
0 com

Sopa is shelved,

I think the voice of the Internet was heard, and I feel that all those that did their part to support the cause should be feeling happy, the weaker of the two bills that were written so vaguely, and the one that debatably caused the most commotion has now finally been scrapped. (at least for now) Lamar Smith - Chief Sponsor of the SOPA bill has said that there needs to be heavily reviewed until a more accepted resolution could be agreed upon.

When you look at the facts and figures that show the loss of money and jobs for thousands, online piracy is a huge problem, but as i said before, attacking it, like was detailed within SOPA, was the completely wrong approach, and I feel if those who dictate the bills have learnt anything from what has happened over the last few days, then I feel it has been a success, but with troubling times still ahead.
0 com

Raspberry Pi,

If you haven't already heard of it. I suggest taking a look, for a few months I've been watching and following this up coming tech product.

It's basically an extremely small(credit card sized) computer/motherboard. It comes equipped with all the necessary ports such as HDMI, USB, SD Card reader(for the hard drive and Linux OS), meaning that this tiny device. An be taken and moved around with absolute ease, and connected into a set up in much the same way as a full sized desktop.

And a massive bonus of this, is the price! It currently ranges at around $25-$35, making it super affordable! I've been looking for an excuse to really get back into Linux like I used to be, I think I've found that excuse.
0 com

Gearing up and blacking out,

The Internet is again showing its combined force against those wanting to put a squeeze on, online content.

Over the last few days, I've been following and taking interest in what is now only a day away, an across the web 'black out'. Exciting and scary times are upon us, sites such as Wikipedia, Reddit (Reddit being one of the largest growing and diverse cultures that can be found online) and games such as Minecraft will all 'go dark' meaning, websites will not be accessible, and playing Minecraft online will be impossible. In fact, there is an entire list of the websites and companies that will be going offline that can be found here. But why are these sites taking action, and what are they taking action against?

These site's are standing up against something that we all need to realise, does and will affect each and every one of us. Two Federal Internet regulation bills have been proposed, PIPA and SOPA. (Protect Intellectual Property Act and Stop Online Piracy Act) Both of which are proposing laws be put in place to stop the sharing and publishing of copyrighted information. But it's not only what these bills will mean for the Internet, but it's the method of which they intend for it to be done. They propose that ISP's will be forced to stop access to any site that they deem as copyright infringing sites, and for services such as Google, and other searching sites to have blocks and limits that will stop their results from returning any sites that contain copyrighted items. Also to be used against copyright infringement will be PayPal, if the SOPA bill does, eventually get passed what this will mean is that PayPal will have to cut its ties to any website that does not fit in with SOPA regulations. But a true view on the harsh reality of what SOPA means is that if you are caught to stream copyright material ten or more times in a six months period, you could be facing 5 years in prison.

But all this goes directly against what the Internet and its community is, and is becoming. I mean, I'm against direct copyright infringement, but when such sites as Wikipedia, are to be threatened, a site that's whole purpose is being a central source to sharing, and user contributed information, a site that is at the forefront of what the Internet is all about, then i can't help but feel that SOPA and PIPA are in direct conflict to the interests to the massive majority.

People are worried, and so am i. If these bills get passed, then we can say goodbye to many of the sites that we know and love, Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, Tumblr, and many others will be massively censored and monitored, and even the information that you post on your social networking sites could cause you a lot of trouble.

But not all is looking bad, SOPA and PIPA have caused the masses again to come together and fight for what they believe is right, These black outs are a fine example of that, and even the White House, and Obama, have said outright that they do not and will not support these acts, even showing that they intend to Veto such bills. These expressions from the President has thrown a spanner in the mix, and caused a lot of supporters of the acts upset. Obama feels that the more damaging pieces of the bills, will not help the global Internet structure, and should not be allowed to pass, because of this, SOPA is looking to be shelved, and PIPA has been knocked back a few notches.

All I'm saying is that the next few days, and the following months, are times that you should be following your tech news, and supporting in any way we can. There is a growing threat of our online world as we know it, being affected, thus affecting each and everyone of us. We are in changing times, and we can only hope it's for the better, and that changes like SOPA and PIPA will cause, are kept away. The Internet is almost completely unmanageable, and efforts to manage such a free world, will only ever be futile and self damaging.

The Internet is still young. Let it grow and blossom, we're really only at the start of its capabilities, and it should be free to evolve with no restrictions.
0 com

&apos;A Social Web&apos;

Google+ results to be pushed to the top of our searches. 

Google+ is a fast growing Social Networking, and information sharing site that the search giant released not too long ago, but with other existing sites in place (Facebook, Twitter), and with google's previous un-succesful efforts to intercept the market, such as Google Wave. Many were left cautious, but it seems to be growing and blossoming; allowing users to not only interact as they may be used to with other Social Networks, but it incorporates the aresenal of useful Google Apps, that many (including myself) use on a daily basis. Meaning collaboration, and information sharing is what it should be. Simple and straight forward. 

But the problem still remains that many members, will stick with what they know, and may remain set upon their previous networking sites. Twitter for example is a site known for it's up to date news sources and insider information. Facebook is known for it's chat facilities and a place for Social Interaction. So how is Google meant to get into the market, and change the mind set of many. Well, Google has caused quite a fuss with almost 'banter' being given back by Twitter. They did this by incorporating both personal and general Google+ Profiles and posts into their Google.com search results. Pushing such results to the front page. 

Twitter and its staff have released comments, expressing that they feel this selective treatment is unfair, and because they are known for their up to date news tweets, they feel that such important information may now be harder to get to than it was before. 

But honestly, why would google not choose to push their own networking site to the top? Not doing so would not only be counter productive to them, and their goals, but in the whole scheme of things, it would be counter productive to the web as a whole. The WWW is a place for information sharing and as W3C state a place for building trust on a global scale. 


The web is changing, it is no longer just a place of inter-connecting hyper links, leading from static page to static page. The users of the web have more power now to shape the world's views than ever before; it is a place of communities, groups, and social masses coming together to colaborate on every field of intelligence and as stated before, with google's arsenal of apps it is becoming easier to do so. 


Personally, put in the position of Google, i would have made the exact same decision, they know and understand that they finally have a great product that can disrupt and even change the way we use Social Networking Sites and the web as a whole, and they are proud of it, they are pushing it forward so the members of all networks can see that they have something to offer.


Google+ is fantastic, and it's still young. I am exciting for the growth of this networking site. And intend to stick around for the ride. I advise you do to, after all. The World Wide Web as we know it, is changing. It's becoming less orientated around the few preaching to the many, but now about an equal playing field, where every individual person's say is important and vital.
0 com

Neccesary Introductions,

I'd like to take this opportunity to introduce myself, my name is Luke Clifford. 

I'm currently a first year at Portsmouth University studying a passion of mine, Software Engineering.
I've grown up, submersing myself in the ever diversifying  world of computers. Not sure what i wanted to specify in, i spent a while trying a bit of everything i could get my hands on, from Programming, Software, Hardware and computer Architecture, (of course) Computer Game Programming, Web development. Spending years trying different languages and coding approaches, i realised a reoccurring theme that i seemed to enjoy. Getting behind the pretty user interface, and seeing how the beast really works. Reading and learning from code, trying and failing (a lot) at manipulating the code. I would find problems that my computer just couldn’t overcome, and i would find myself trying my hardest to code something that would make my life easier. That I guess, is why i chose to do Software Engineering. I am currently in my first year at Portsmouth University, and even though this stage of my education is still young, and i may be naive, but my aims, ambitions and end-goals are high and i intend to work hard to achieve them. 

I have, over the last few months, taken a large interest into the world of Evolutionary Computation, and also Bioinformatics. Reading what i can, and understanding what i can, i seem to have not only specified within Computer Science, but now i find myself specifying further within Software Engineering. a PhD would be a dream for me, the research seems exciting and getting involved in projects that can advance Artificial Intelligence, and the way in which we solve problems that would otherwise be unsolvable, is something i intend to be enthusiastic about throughout my education and further.