Author: Jessica.Vitak

  • How Does Technology Impact Young Adults' Writing Habits?

    At the Pew Internet and American Life Project, we recently published a report titled Writing, Technology and Teens, which considered the impact of informal writing styles, as commonly found in the infinite number of shorthand conversations young people have each day over text messaging and IM. The primary question we wanted to answer with this research was if these informal writing styles, which make liberal use of writing shortcuts such as acronyms (e.g., LOL, ROFL, BRB, etc.); abbreviations (e.g., "cu2nite", meaning "see you tonight"); and emoticons, such as the recently-turned-10-years-old smiley face, had any effects on teens' more formal writing, such as what was required from them in a school environment.

    As Nicole recently wrote, the results from this research reveal that while most teens do not consider these forms of interaction as "writing," the habits developed in quick messaging conversations do bleed into their more formal, school-based writing. Since I considered the communication habits of college students for my master's thesis work, I thought it might be interesting to look at the questions posed in our teens' research in light of my data on a slightly older crowd. Below is a cross-post that I have also published on Pew's website; the original post can be found here.

  • The Power of Facebook to Mobilize a Mob

    Howard Rheingold has been writing about the impact of computer-mediated communication on interaction for the last three decades. I am currently reading his 1993 book, "The Virtual Community," on the rise of web-based communities and namely the influence of the WELL (Whole Earth 'Lectronic Link) on the way people interact online.

    However, one of Rheingold's more recent books, "Smart Mobs," holds special relevance in light of recent global events.

  • Does the power of the mob count for anything?

    Over the course of the last six months or so, I have become an avid consumer of technology blogs, especially those dealing with social networking sites, and most especially with Facebook. While much of the blog postings are rather boring in nature and deal with the perpetual argument over the pros and cons of Facebook versus MySpace or how Facebook doomed itself with the Beacon debacle in November, every now and then I find a tidbit that shakes my very existence.

  • Are we becoming too dependent on the Internet?

    Let’s perform a little experiment. As you read my blog – which you would not be reading without the aid of 1) the Internet and 2) a computer – consider how you did anything 15 years ago. Now for some of you, you might have been in kindergarten, but I think it’s safe to say most of us were at least in high school by this time. How did you conduct research for a school project? How did you contact your friends? How did you look up the number for the local pizza delivery joint or directions to the mall two towns over?

  • MySpace lied to us all….and no one cares!

    The blog world has been pumping out stories over the last week related to the "scandal" surrounding Tom, one of MySpace's cofounders and our first "friend" when we set up an account. Apparently, Tom, like most Americans over the age of 30, has been lying to us all these years about how old he really is. When the site launched four years ago, Tom's listed age was 27, but as first broken by TechCrunch last week and later legitimized by Newsweek, Tom either had temporary amnesia when filling out his profile, or he's just really, really bad at math. It turns out the old geezer was actually 31 back in 2003 when MySpace launched.

  • The death of a “second life” – overreaction or cause for concern?

    The Times (London) published an article last month titled “Facebook suicide,” describing an increase in users canceling their accounts with social networking sites for a variety of reasons, including jealous boyfriends, disconnection with the real world and concerns about prying employers. The article even references a user group on Facebook's site, the Facebook Mass Suicide Club, for those who have such an obsession with the social networking site that the only way to correct the situation is to sever all ties.

  • A social networking site for everyone – but at what costs to privacy and security?

    In recent years, Web 2.0 has assimilated itself into our daily lives with a vengeance, and no other trend within this movement has made more of a statement than social networking websites. First were the general sites – Friendster, MySpace and Facebook – which by now we are all familiar with (unless, that is, you have chosen to live under a rock). In today’s world, however, you can also find the social networking site that not only lets you connect with old friends, but you can hone in on a very specific group of individuals. There are social networking communities for dog lovers (Dogster), flirts (Flirtomatic), Christian churches (MyChurch), car enthusiasts (CarDomain) and even Goths (Vampire Freaks), to name just a handful.