Archive for the ‘Module 3: Your Internet Footprint’ Category

Garry Reynolds from Presentation Zen shows how the seminal General Dodonna briefing on how to defeat the Death Star in the original Star Wars IV – A New Hope would look if he had used Powerpoint slides….

Garry says “nothing inspires like a thank you slide”!! I love it!


According to the personas website, this is how the Internet sees me. I find my name doesn’t deliver accurate search results and is quite often flooded with links to actress Cameron Diaz and director James Cameron. “Cameron’s best film” is a common search result.

Very interesting lecture by Tama on digital shadows. Interesting to hear how someone can be literally branded for life and never truly able to step out from a digital shadow that they may have had no role in creating. (See Star Wars Kid). I read on recently that Ghyslain Raza slipped into depression as a result of the ridicule and harassment suffered because of that video he shot but never had any intention of sharing.  Despite the fact he is now President of a non-profit organisation dedicated to preserving the heritage of the town of Trois-Rivières, a Google search of his name results in page after page of references to the “Star Wars Kid”, only recently interspersed with the “Where is he now?” stories.

Similar story about the “Dog Poop Girl”.  In reporting the story in 2005, The Washington Post said using the Internet to settle scores or issue public complaints is commonplace.  In recent years, the Internet has also spawned the rise of “citizen journalism”.  The Post asks: “But what happens when the two converge, and the Internet populace is stirred to action against individuals?” It becomes a cyber-posse and quite often the punishment does not fit the crime.

I know someone who went through a similar situation.  I won’t go into the details but suffice to say he was harassed and even had death threats stretching over many months.  He was labeled as a conspirator via YouTube and on blogs and the mob turned on him.  Years later, the digital shadow of that incident still hangs over him.

I found this introduction to the Semantic Web very informative.

Syntax is how you say something whereas semantics is the meaning of what you say.

(msporny, 2007)

Computers not only reading data but being able to understand it.  Knowing what we like … and, more importantly predicting what we want before we even have to ask is the true value of the Semantic Web.

I believe an example of this is the data detectors in Apple’s OSX, which I utilise on my MacBook just about every day.  If I get an email from someone – say, John – who has asked for a meeting “at 3pm tomorrow in the board room”, the computer sees  the time, date and location and can automatically add an appointment to my calendar, using that data.

Pulling the threads of the Web together and making meaning of the chaos will  revolutionise the way we use the Internet.  Berners-Lee, Hendler & Lassila (2001) predicted the “eventual creation of programs that collect Web content from diverse sources, process the information and exchange the results with other programs.”  This is something websites like Facebook have done for some time now.  However, embracing a public-driven Semantic Web has proven somewhat troublesome.  Following Facebook’s “Open Graph” announcement in May 2010, which included a vision of a consumer Semantic Web, people are sceptical of the company’s intentions.  Read Write Web writer Alex Iskold blogged on May 6 201o that on close inspection “Facebook’s intent is not to make the Web more structured, but instead to engineer a way for more data – mostly unstructured – to flow into Facebook databases.”  It seems Facebook doesn’t want to create a better, more structured Web – Facebook wants to be the Web.

As a postnote, I watched the Google Wave overview ( explaining what Google Wave is all about … or should I say was all about!  Only this week Google announced it was discontinuing Wave (  I must admit, I got an invitation to Wave back in December 2009 but never used it.  Watching this video, I can see some of the collaborative benefits of Wave and how it could have changed the way people communicate online.  It was probably a little too complicated.  I have heard a number of smart people saying they didn’t know how to use it, which is possibly why the adoption of Wave has been lower than Google’s expectations.  I think it would have been a much better way to hold Web101 discussions than the hard-to-follow Blackboard Discussion Forums.


Berners-Lee, T., Hendler, J., Lassila, O. (2001). THE SEMANTIC WEB, Scientific American; May 2001, Vol. 284 Issue 5, p34. Retrieved from on August 7 2010.

Isklod, A. (2010), Does Facebook Really Want a Semantic Web?, Read Write Web, Published May 6 2010. Retrieved from on August 7 2010.

Sporny, M. (2007), Intro to the Semantic Web. Retrieved from on August 7 2010