RSS feed

From post to pingbacks, how to communicate via network


In 1989 I was a young computer programmer and the only way to keep myself updated with latest technology news was to buy electronics and computer magazines. Therefore, each time I found an interesting article I photocopied it and took it to my friends and colleagues.
The information had a very slow spread process, very few of my colleagues would had the opportunity to deepen the topics covered in those articles or to discuss them with their computer technicians colleagues.
I would also like to underline the enormous waste of paper that took place in the past.
In fact, the innovation in those years was, both in terms of hardware and software, high-growth, even if the computer technicians didn’t have enough tools to follow and share the technological evolution.
Computer technology ran at 100 kilometers per hour, but the information ”stumbled” a lot, incapable of  moving at the same speed of innovation.
Everything has changed today, in no time everyone can spread an article on line, not only technicians and experts, but anyone can send it toward collaborators, friends, industry experts. It doesn’t matter if the item is with fee or a free-of-charge one.
The action of spreading  we are talking about is called “post”, it is the publication of a comment and one or more hypertext links that catapults the reader / friend / colleague directly on information. The information can be sent in a few moments and in a targeted manner to hundreds or thousands of people, these people can easily access to what is reported and even comment on it, or “post” it to other people.
The “post” is free, immediate, but above all is an “active alarm,” or rather, it reaches the targeted audience as fast as a ringing of a telephone. The “post” is the great grandson of the citation, bibliographic tool, with the big difference that, by posting, the information is immediately available with a simple click. But the “post” is also the natural heir of the “pub’s chat”, its simplicity allows you to quickly and easily bring in any kind of comment.
There is another technical term that can explain how the flow of communication is much more complex today than in the past, and that is “referer”. This term indicates the source address of the post sent.
On web it’s popular indicating as “referer” the site or the person who performs the role of amplifier, therefore of a “family agent”.
In summary, the information circulates now in a much faster and far-reaching way as before, and it can also be covered retroactively.
BLOG writers know very well the term “PingBack“, this is a kind of notice citation. When one of my articles is quoted, it gets “posted” on the network from another website and I receive an immediate notification related to the page that has decided to quote me.
The act of online contents diffusion can be carried out completely automatically and free-of-charge. The activation of a service RSS feed allows interested users to receive on their browser or on feed aggregator all the latest news: a feed for each new article in a blog or in an online newspaper, for each new recipe published on their favorite site, for each type of announcement published on net, and so on. Particularly interesting is the role of the icon that represents the feed service, easily recognizable it allows user to perceive immediately the possibility to subscribe updates from  Website / Portal / Blog he is reading. The RSS feed is also an example of how the standard rules application, coherently organized from the informatics point of view (XML), has facilitated the service spread.
Do not forget about Twitter, the best social network. Twitter is a combination of speed, practicality, diffusion. With Twitter you can implement both “post” actions manual and automatic. When this article will be published, a tweet will be automatically sent to my followers’ mobile smart phone, tablet or personal computer.
In the last ten years, even less, the spread of information has outpaced the time and space constraints, no more copies hand-delivered to a few friends. New patterns have emerged, simpler, automatic, faster and immediate.
The author can monitor the use of his information on network, he can counter the quote received, he even may respond to comments and requests. The user can spread what he wants, to anyone he wants, enriching it with quotes and personal suggestions.
All these changes and the passage of time, faded away the memory of me who once made photocopies.


Internet is changing our children’s method of study

Among   many questions I’ve been asked during my work as a computer’s designer and technical SEO, the most frequent one concerns the relationship that young people, adolescents and children, have with  internet and with the new web 2.0 tools. I can deal with such a delicate subject exclusively from my own experience as a designer of portals, taking account of my analysis based on the actual use of the portals, to which I add some personal conclusions. From these different experiences derive some simple tips.
I read for the first time the definition of “digital native” in the book “Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives” wrote by J.Palfrey and U. Gasser, book that contains many interesting ideas to think about. In brief, in this category of digital natives, we find all those who are born having already available tools and electronic services such as video games, personal computers, mobile phones, etc. ..
The use of these tools had a first obvious effect, very evident, on us parents, and I refer to their rapidity of using these tools. The natives have another noticeable feature and that is the familiarity with which they manage their own universe 2.0. What we can infer in particular from the two behaviors is the easiness with which they expose themselves on  network along with the true belief in the virtual friendships as being on the same level with the real ones.
Young people, even children, demonstrate great rapidity in the digital devices and services use, besides the remarkable capacity for self-learning. The natives are often able to move quickly into a new portal, configure a computer, a digital decoder or copy photos (or videos) from one device to another, etc,  just observing the provision of services or the icons..
The difference between people who gather from digital tools and the ones that cannot make full use or even understand at all digital tools, is called “digital divide“, a term  very much in vogue and like all fashionable terms, it implies many different meanings and interpretations.
Beware digital natives have a dexterity that is not always guided by a rational ability to select contents or by good analytical skills or even by the patience needed to build that personal castle of knowledge” essential to judge the information found on Internet.
The act of cultural mediation that teachers, librarians, parents, also grandparents have to implement, is to look beyond the results proposed on the search engine’s first page.  We all have to teach the new generations a meditated analysis that can overtake the very convenient method of “cut and paste” from the huge amount of contents on network, a very commune students temptation from time immemorial.
It wasn’t better before and it is not better now, but what I’m sure of is that we need to create educational web 2.0 tools able to explain to young people how to use the 2.0. Certainly there are lots of intelligent young people on the net who will see the network as a great opportunity for their future.
The teaching method must be suitable for the social dimension, it must be efficiently fast and immediate, we cannot expect that a sixteen read  12 pages of instructions before using a network search or fill in 5 or 10 fields when he can find elsewhere with a mono-field and one click everything he needs.
The first step is the production of short instructional videos, each video must have a maximum duration of one or two minutes, easy to select, simple and immediate to display. The instructional videos, short and concise, must, of course, be posted on YouTube and not elsewhere, we should not reinvent the wheel.
The second step is to interact with social networks, teachers and mediators must be present on Twitter and Facebook, collect the needs and demands expressed by  students / users / readers and set the subsequent lessons / activities on that basis. The optimum would be to manage to interact in real time and to respond immediately to the questions proposed.
The third step is to allow students to “post” then to recommend other students or friends where to find the information and the method applied. Young people are  “network’s major users ”,  the best amplifiers of the network itself and therefore of the net culture . The network is collaborative and participatory and we must not forget that.
The fourth tip is to update frequently the content offered on the net in order to stimulate young people’s interest, to capture their attention with the support of tools capable of reporting any updates, such as RSS feeds.
We will win this challenge if our generation   will be able to transmit contents and cultural values ​​by presenting our own strategies of using the network: interactive didactic videos, social networks, RSS feeds, blogs, etc. … by standing beside the youngest and showing them the use of these tools and last but not least by collecting and responding to their needs in a smart fast way, as happens on the internet.