Is Google Making Us Stupid?

February 26, 2010

People have had many concerns when it comes to today’s search engine giant known as Google. These range from the security and privacy of all our information to how overwhelmingly large and influential they have become. The incident with China hacking into Google and collecting information along with the current privacy issue they are facing in Italy only validate the public’s concerns. It was even shocking to media students to see that Google, who once stubbornly said we’re sticking to word of mouth, have bought into advertising and revealed a commercial for the search engine during the 2010 Super Bowl. While all these topics make us a little apprehensive of the company, there was an interesting concern brought up in this morning’s discussion which I have never really thought about before. Is Google making us stupid?

For a company that started on a small scale and armed with a big idea, their intent of providing the public with easy and limitless access to information is now being questioned as to whether or not it has a positive impact or negative one.

In a short video, from the Atlantic Project, we were able to see an on-the-street take of whether or not the public thought Google was making them stupid. Some took a more positive perspective and stated that this Goliath of a search engine makes them more informed and allows them to self-educate.

On the other hand, people also said Google wasn’t making them stupid, but their reasoning did not seem positive to me. For example, one girl said if she were asked to write a paper for class, all she had to do was look up information online, copy and paste it into her Word document and it was simple for her to do. She never learned anything. This seems to be a more negative idea of the company and completely opposite of what Google intended; and maybe that leads to another question of whether it is the public’s responsibility to know what to do with the information and if it is good and bad? Or maybe it’s the content producer’s responsibility instead?

In my opinion, to be quite blunt, I believe that Google isn’t making us any more stupid than we started out. It offers, as one man on the street said, a breadth of information and a depth that we can determine. It may not exactly provide the depth we could find within books at a library (within your first search) but if you are motivated to dig deep enough and utilize credible sources, then maybe you are getting a certain depth of knowledge that is somewhat equivalent to what some books can provide.

Like everything else, Google has both pros and cons, but maybe our real concern should be focused on how we are using it instead.

So what do you think? Is Google making us stupid?

To view the Atlantic Project video visit: http://vimeo.com/9253811

During our course today, we were briefly introduced to Google Conversion University. This online tool focuses on analytics and offering companies a sophisticated and easy to understand their current and possible audiences.

This web analytic site, Conversion University, first started in August of 2007 during a time when the market for businesses relying on analytics was small and the sites that offered this same help were considered very complicated or unclear. With these outside factors, Google’s site was seen as a huge improvement.

Google Analytics Executive Brett Crosby stated that the goal of Conversion was to, “increase the level of sophistication for people who are first time users who aren’t web analytics experts by nature, that they can get right in, the data is immediately obvious what to do with it, and then also allow the analysis, the deeper dive guys, who have been there for a while doing this stuff, to refocus their efforts on getting into the product, we’ve added a lot of tools for those guys that do those things, and we’ve taken out some of the things that don’t need to be…that we can automate.”

It has an interface that is easy to use and navigate as well as so many tools available that it provided lots of information and wasn’t dumb down. Any business using this online tool could add reports to the interface, e-mail reports and export items. Other tools that can be utilize through Google Analytics along with the Conversion University include:

Adwords: used to drive more traffic to site

Google Analytics: used to understand ROI and tracking

Website Optimizer: a free tool that is a platform for multivariate testing

Conversion University and all of Google’s analytic tools help companies manipulate and customize their campaigns and websites in order to attract others as well as improve them for their current visitors.

To learn more about Google Analytics and the tools offered you can visit and watch the product tour video on:

http://www.google.com/analytics/

 

Where to Start?!

October 7, 2009

With research being a huge portion of one of our courses, we have been trying to find multiple sites that could be helpful and beneficial to our final product, a research paper. It’s always a little daunting to get on the Internet and figure out where to start in order to find data or scholarly articles, and then decipher which information you will need.

So instead of staring at the computer screen and getting frustrated because you don’t know some good websites to check out, Emily, David, Brook and I decided to create a list of five online tools that can be a starting point or guide for your research information.

  1. Many Eyes (http://manyeyes.alphaworks.ibm.com/manyeyes/) is a data visualization site that not only gives you the ability to create your own charts and graphs, but has already stored some information and statistics that you can search for within the site.
  2. Issuu (http://issuu.com) is a online magazine site which allows you to not only find other articles that correlate with your research, but also let’s you publish your own information into a magazine format.
  3. Academic Earth (http://academicearth.org) is an educational network that holds a collection of scholarly articles, videos and other information that could be used for your research. It is taken from a myriad of universities throughout the nation.
  4. Google Alerts (http://www.google.com/alerts) is a site that constantly updates you on the newest information that was made available online. Through signing up and telling the site exactly what information you are looking for, it will constantly send updates that have those key words or information within the article, video, title and more.
  5. Simple Bib (http://simplebib.com.apa1.php) is a site that creates citations. It makes it easier to understand how to put together your reference pages according to the different formats.

These online tools are pretty useful for those that need a little more direction in the overwhelming Internet information world.  Hope it is helpful!

Motion Chart

October 5, 2009

Since we are focusing on presentations, and every Friday tests each Interactive Media student on their on-the-spot presentation skills, we are constantly trying to find more interesting ways to keep our audience’s attention. We mainly rely on sketches and visual elements, however we are branching out and learning about various interactive methods.

With programs like PowerPoint getting a little old for most of us, people are turning to Adobe Flash and other creative forms. These are more interactive for the viewers and keeps people engaged.

We were recently introduced to one of Google Docs applications or gadget that is supposed to enhance the way we display a set of data or statistics. This free Motion Chart gadget utilizes a Google Doc spreadsheet, which is set up similar to Microsoft Excel, and creates a more interactive chart presentation online. By rolling over the bubble points (colored circles that depict the statistic that were placed into the spreadsheet) the viewer can see the exact point coordinates. Both the x and y axis can also be changed in order to see a new set of information.

To learn through emersion, we were asked to find a set of data that could be based off of our research or from another course topic and attempt to figure out how to use this Internet tool.

It was actually interesting to see how the information I found on non-profit contributions (throughout the economic recession and its gradual growth) from 2003 to 2008 have changed within different sections of the nation. It was a great visual way of representing the changes over time.

The only thing I wish would improve is the ability to edit the chart easier once it is created. This option is kind of limited so you had to go back to the actual spreadsheet and modify things in order to create a new chart.

Check it out:

http://docs.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=91610