6. Online Intelligence

Chapter 6 Online Intelligence

Essential Questions

How does the personalization of social media and web search tools impact individuals?
What is a digital footprint and how can I manage mine?
What is the difference between the Surface Web and the Deep Web?
How can I get the best information from a Web search?


Log into the OneNote Class Notebook for your section to access the Peer Team Teaching Planning Guide for this week.

Being NetSmart

The digital culture we live in demands knowledge and skills in managing personal and professional information in public spaces — the Web and social media apps in particular. It is no longer an option to be a passive user of the Web and social media without being smart about your use of it and, frankly, its use of you. We use social media to share our lives with friends and Web search engines to locate web-based information and services, but how might these tools be using us? Rheingold (2012) explains
Google, Bing, Yahoo! And other search engines offer search as a free service on the Web, because searches provide the marketing information that advertisers have sought like the conquistadores sought El Dorado — a way to show large numbers of individuals advertisements that each person might actually be interested in. Search is both a public good — something useful to everybody, but that individuals lack sufficient incentive to create for themselves — and a way to amass significant private wealth by selling a valuable commodity. In Web search, the valuable commodity is the searchers’ attention. Search engines sell sponsored links that appear on the top or side of the page of links displayed in response to a search query. Whenever someone clicks on a sponsored link, a small amount of money goes to the search engine provider. Those clicks add up to billions of dollars each year. (p. 85)
You are probably well-aware also of how marketing uses social media — to promote products, causes, candidates, services, and also to gather the valuable commodity of the users’ attention. Is this a bad thing? Actually, no. These tools are just making use of a perfect marketing opportunity. The problem is when users are unaware of how the information they willingly provide is being used. Rheingold (2012) advises “Awareness of your digital footprints and impacts of your digital profiles ought to precede your conscious participation online. Think before you post, because your digital actions are findable, reproducible, and available to people you don’t know, and will remain available to all indefinitely” (p. 249). What is your digital footprint? Is it the one you intended to leave? The video below from Internet Society offers four reasons you should care about your digital footprint:

Your digital footprint is comprised of information such as particular links you click on when using a search engine, groups you join, online shopping preferences, and reacting to someone else’s social media post. How do you know what footprints you’ve left? Try these steps:

  1. Search your name on a variety of different search engines. Search text, images, and video. If anything comes up that you would prefer not be attached to your name, take steps to remove it from the site it happens to be on. Don’t hesitate to contact a webmaster if you need something taken off a particular site but have no way to do it.
  2. Clean up accounts! You may have an old account on MySpace that you haven’t accessed since Jr. High that needs to be deleted. If you have accounts you plan to “deactivate,” clean out all the photos and information before deactivating.
  3. Check the privacy settings on your active accounts. Make a habit of going through your active accounts each year and clean them up. Anything you want to keep can be backed up on your hard drive without leaving it out and available within the app. Make sure you know what you are sharing and with whom you are sharing it. All social media apps’ privacy settings require attention!
  4. Unsubscribe from any mailing lists that you don’t really need.
  5. Use a secondary email account for sites you sign up on that may send marketing.
  6. Check any e-commerce or retail sites and delete your account if you no longer use them.
  7. Use a more private web browser and search engine. DuckDuckGo doesn’t log any personally identifiable information, doesn’t use cookies to identify you, and it discards user agents and IP addresses from its server logs. StartPage runs a Google search for you but does not pass your information on to Google. All of the major browsers have a private, or incognito mode, but note this still tracks your IP address (see https://www.computerhope.com/issues/ch001378.htm for more information).
  8. Always remember that digital information doesn’t really go away, so think very carefully before you post! If you want to test how long web information remains available, search for a URL (like http://okstate.edu) on the Wayback Machine Internet Archive (http://archive.org).

There are serious privacy-related issues such as identity theft, surveillance, and behavioral data mining associated with Web and social media activities, but there are great affordances for those who bring knowledge and skill to their engagement in digital culture. The wealth of outstanding information available, engagement in personal and professional communities, and the opportunity to collaboratively create with diverse, global citizens cannot be ignored. Rheingold explains, “Every PC as well as smart phone is a printing press, broadcasting station, political organizing tool, and site for growing a community or marketplace. Knowledge, power, advantage, companionship, and influence lie with those who know how to participate, rather than those who just passively consume culture” (p. 249).

It is ironic that we now enjoy such a high level of connectivity through the Web and social media, but the tracking of our personal data and activity actually brings a self-segregated experience to users (boyd, 2017). Watch this video to understand the effect of the filter bubble, or echo chamber, that is created for us based on our online activities:

(For a series of additional videos on How to Pop Your Filter Bubble, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8ofWFx525s&list=PLOGi5-fAu8bGbT40N1o65uMu9fHqAaojM).
By functioning online within our own filter bubble, or echo chamber, we miss out on the chance to appreciate diverse perspectives and interact in a heterogeneous environment. Unfortunately, our society seems to be more polarized than ever. Do you think there’s a connection here? Danah Boyd noted:
Thus, given the opportunity, people typically revert to situations where they can be in homogeneous environments. They look for “safe spaces” and “culture fit.” And systems that are “personalized” are highly desirable. Most people aren’t looking to self-segregate, but they do it anyway. And, increasingly, the technologies and tools around us allow us to self-segregate with ease. Is your uncle annoying you with his political rants? Mute him. Tired of getting ads for irrelevant products? Reveal your preferences. Want your search engine to remember the things that matter to you? Let it capture data.Want to watch a TV show that appeals to your senses? Here are some recommendations. (n.p.)
Take notice of the ads that show up when you conduct a search. Are they connected to anything else you’ve reacted to on social media or searched for? Have a friend conduct the same search as you and notice the difference in the sponsored links and ads that appear. You should see individual preference data reflected in ads. This personalization of information comes at the price of your privacy and gives you a very narrow view of all available Web resources. Another limiting aspect to what you see on the Web is tied to common search engines. Search tools like Google or Bing index approximately 4% of all available web resources — just the surface. The deep web is the part of the Web that cannot be accessed by a general search engine. Consider how many great resources you’re missing out on that common search engines are not showing you!
Surface Web vs. Deep Web vs. Dark Web

Deep Web

Different types of search engines to access more than just the surface web:
Name Description
The Internet Archive A database of older, saved versions of nearly every site ever created on the Internet (I can still get to the first website I ever made in 1992 on a server that has been dead and gone over two decades. Proof that digital information never dies!)
USA.gov Direct access to a wide variety of government-owned information and databases like the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian, and much more
Science.gov Indexes over 60 databases and 2,200 scientific websites of the latest research
U.S. Geological Survey Amazing maps and images and real (or near-real) time data and information on current conditions and Earth observations
Directory of Open Access Journals Indexes and provides free access to high quality, open access, peer-reviewed journals
Voice of the Shuttle A rich directory for online resources on literature, humanities, and cultural studies
RxList A comprehensive database of US prescription medications
Infoplease An information portal allowing you to tap into a number of databases, online journals, almanacs, ebooks, online library card catalogs, etc.
Pipl People finder
MyLife Search reputation scores and background
Social Catfish People search by photo
Wolfram Alpha A search engine based on computation and metrics
Dogpile A metasearch engine
Yippy A metasearch engine
DuckDuckGo A deep web search engine that doesn’t track your discoveries
Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (CGP) Access to federal publications
The World DataBank Collections of data on a variety of topics with an analysis and visualization tool
FactCheck.org Check the accuracy of internet stories
Addict-o-Matic Creates a topic page for searches using results from Bing, Google Blog Search, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, WordPress, and other search &amp social sources. Bookmark the page on your browser to check on the latest results regularly.
Creative Commons Your source for elements that meet Fair Use Guidelines

Other Important Skills

WhoIs.com discover who owns a particular web address (search for http://martinlutherking.org and describe what you fine)
What other sites link to a particular site? Type “link:http://edtech.okstate.edu” (or the URL of your choice) into a search engine
Understand the Anatomy of a URL https://doepud.co.uk/blog/anatomy-of-a-url


Boyd, d. (2017). Why America is self-segregating https://points.datasociety.net/why-america-is-self-segregating-d881a39273ab
Rheingold, H. (2012). NetSmart: How to thrive online. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Key Terms

The Social Media Glossary: 226 Essential Definitions https://blog.hootsuite.com/social-media-glossary-definitions/


Your Digital Footprint Matters http://www.internetsociety.org/your-digital-footprint

Simitator http://simitator.com/ (Use this site to help students  see how easy it is to create fake social media posts)

How Do Search Engines Work? http://www.bbc.co.uk/guides/ztbjq6f

10 Smart Social Media Tips for Students http://www.collegexpress.com/articles-and-advice/student-life/articles/college-health-safety/10-smart-social-networking-tips-students/

Why America is Self-Segregating https://points.datasociety.net/why-america-is-self-segregating-d881a39273ab

The Social Media Glossary: 226 Essential Definitions https://blog.hootsuite.com/social-media-glossary-definitions/

Customized Google Search Enginehttp://www.google.com/cse/?hl=en
How to Create Your Own Google Custom Search Enging video tutorialhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IeiFFpo8qME
Digital footprinthttp://thetechnoliterate.wordpress.com/2013/03/05/digital-footprint/


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