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Front Page » July 23, 2009 » Carbon County News » Online technologies fail to gain strong foothold in Carbo...
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Online technologies fail to gain strong foothold in Carbon County


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By COLLIN MCRANN
Sun Advocate writer

Necessity might be the mother of invention, but when trying to finding practical local uses for online networks such as Twitter, or YouTube, the necessity becomes debatable.

Usefulness concerning the internet in general is however, hard to ignored since conveniences like instant news updates, quick references and communication have changed the means in which information is spread. And although both Twitter and YouTube have legions of followers, in Carbon County, it would appear that a strong showing of local content has yet to gain a foothold.

"I haven't found a use for Twitter, students here just don't use it," said CEU's assistant security analyst Kevin Howard who has been experimenting with Twitter at the school.

Twitter is an free online service that allows users to post short comments about what they are doing or thinking. And although Twitter might not be utilized very heavily in Carbon County, it has been the subject of discussion concerning it's ability to help network mass protests in other counties like Croatia and Iran.

Howard's experience with Twitter at CEU found that students and most young people in general prefer other sites like MySpace and Facebook, because they offer increased interactivity and have an established following.

"Facebook has a news feed, I log on and it keeps me up to date (with friends) there's a lot of direct interaction," said Howard.

Twitter by it's nature is a relatively simple concept intended to be very mobile since it can easily be utilized on devices like cell phones. But when it comes to YouTube, a lack of users is not really a problem, because once almost anyone "discovers," YouTube, they can spend hours looking through it's user created content, but once again, the question arises about it's practical side.

"I've been able to publish videos (through YouTube) on campus for our specific systems, but they've mostly all been internal training sessions," said Howard when asked about how he has taken advantage of YouTube.

One advantage to posting such videos is that they can be viewed at any time, so if users were to have a problem, all they need is a fast enough internet connection since unlike Twitter, YouTube requires broadband to view videos quickly.

"CEU also wants to get community videos together," said Howard. "We should be able to get those up and running shortly."

Posting content online is now very easy and although ideas about where all of it is going are inconclusive, nearly everyone under the age of 25 has a Facebook, or Myspace account, and online safety can be a big issue. To realize safe usage of networks like Facebook and Myspace, users need to know that nothing put on the internet is private and while there are privacy options it is better to simply assume they don't exist.

"Even though you may think only your friends are viewing your photos (online) it's not always the case. There's a lot of loop holes in the system," said Howard.

Safety aside, Howard also indicated that although it might be easy to start putting content like blogs or videos up on the internet, it is difficult to maintain a following because, "it's not a side project," he said.

And in fact the internet is littered with burned out blogs and Twitter accounts because while anyone can post content, in order for it to become popular, it must be good.

"You have to be well liked (online), have a good personality and a good internet personality," related Howard concerning both blogs and video blogs.

What all this means for Carbon County is still unclear because while local online interaction is not very busy, it does present potential in terms of what could be done. And because there is no sure fire way to kick start online interaction, at the moment everything is up in the air.

One thing that does remain certain is that what is offered online is likely to increase whether it be local or otherwise.

"There's a lot of challenges, if you don't do it right the first time, you loose," said Howard. "Locally I really think the community needs something better for interacting on the net," he concluded.

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July 23, 2009
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