Avatars and Online Communication

“Avatars, or visual, on-screen representations of users, are a common element of online environments that facilitate or allow social interaction. Past research has found that avatars in immersive virtual environments can contribute to a sense of emotional involvement”. There have been great research studies exploring the idea that avatars can contribute to feelings of emotional connectedness in interactions online.
I’ve actually done a test with avatars in the workplace using a tool that helped two teams that worked remotely interact with each other. I added a few items that had an avatar associated, and quickly realized that these were the items that received either the most responses; or they were viewed more. I believe that the use of avatars truly helped people feel more engaged to the post or the item. Because they can see directly who they are speaking to or interacting with, they are more compelled to provide insight as well. My article actually shows that avatars actually generate emotional involvement in online communication, and that users exhibited strong preferences for avatars than those without.
In asynchronous communication, there is consistent evidene that avatars will generate the sense of emotional involvement. Rather, the actual representation of a human being behind some of these blog posts or software tools gives readers a stronger sense that they are in fact communicated with a person, which leads them to help or respond. Additionally, the use of avatars improves the effectiveness of a site, such as online learning. Even though I don’t have an avatar up, I do feel like I am communicated more effectively with someone and I can put a face to a name.
CyberPsychology, Behavior and Social Networking. April 1, 2011. 

Age vs. Technology

In their article, The Marriage of Technology and Leadership, Business Source Complete states that  “Through the years, many people protested changes in communication technology” ("The marriage of," 2009).    In earlier times, opinions such as “Why do we need the telegraph? Communication should be face-to-face or via letter” and a little later, “What's wrong with the telegraph? Who needs a telephone? There goes privacy and productivity” have been common complaints in business settings where a multi-generational workforce is employed ("The marriage of," 2009).  Younger generations who have grown up with the latest innovations in communication naturally gravitate towards the tools they are most comfortable using.  As businesses strive to keep up with the most current and efficient technologies, older generation employees are often hesitant to accept these changes and tend to avoid incorporating these new tools into their workspaces.

New Technologies

Social networking websites and technologies such as Facebook and Twitter, initially considered only as means of entertainment, are increasingly becoming workplace communication tools as “new millennials,” or people 30 years old and under become a more prominent presence in the workforce.  These new technologies can allow easy access to a wide, possibly previously untapped customer base.  Often, senior staff members are not as comfortable with these methods of communication and don’t fully understand the applications available via the new systems.  Older-generation managers may not understand the inherent benefits in exploiting these systems to generate customer leads and facilitate customer contact.  For example, a 22-year-old marketing assistant might send out promotional “tweets” via Twitter to promote a new product or service while a 40-year-old marketing manager might plan a marketing campaign designed around more traditional tools such as direct mail or published advertisements. 

New Integration

When businesses integrate new technologies into their own communication and marketing plans, the younger set of employees already accustomed to utilizing the most current technologies easily step into the role of communicating via these means.  Many older employees tend to be resistant to this upheaval and feel that the additions are unwarranted and counterproductive.  A 50-year-old “baby boomer” generation manager might glance into a millennial employee’s office and become irritated at seeing the employee working on a Facebook page due to the assumption that the employee is wasting company time on personal networking.  This type of conflict is an issue that can limit the productivity of the younger workforce in organizations that aren’t completely up to speed with the current technological times ("Online all the," 2010). 

New Opportunity

As millennials in the workforce continue to age, more and more of the younger generation are poised to step up into management-type positions.  Business Source Complete stated that “Children who grew up with the Internet are now only about 15 to 20 years old. They will enter the workforce en masse in the next two to seven years.”  Many of these young employees will go on to become managers and, eventually, top-level executives of their organizations.  This progression can be expected to bring about evolution of communication technology into work settings organically as social networking technologies become increasingly integrated into office environments by a workforce of employees comfortable with navigating the systems.

The marriage of technology and leadership. (2009). Training, 46(4), 16., Retrieved from http://dml.regis.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=bth&AN=39660035&site=ehost-live&scope=site

Online all the time? Resolving technology-related workplace conflicts. (2010). Negotiation, 13(10), 4-5. 
Marcie J & Nick M

Is online learning as effective as the classroom?

Is online learning as effective as the classroom?

At the center of the debate regarding distance learning is the efficacy of online learning in comparison to in-class learning.  While this debate goes on, educators are working hard to develop new systems that hurdle the challenges of online learning in an attempt to evolve the experience, participation and efficacy.  While educators are working hard to create an effective online learning environment, student enrollment in online programs is on the rise.  The debate on the efficacy of online course may remain a hot topic amongst educational institutions but the real variable in the online education market is the student.  Online education may not be a fit for all students but those who choose to enroll in online courses must be motivated and disciplined to engage.  According to Allison Rossett, author and professor of educational technology at San Diego State University, “While flopping into a seat every Thursday night for two hours doesn’t take much commitment, online participants must allow the content, instructor, peers, and requirements to permeate their lives” (Rossett, 2005, p.15).  Online programs that have been successful largely depend on the instructors, online design and cost. I would argue that the most important reason is the students and their ability to make it work.

Are students are the determining factor?

The answer to this will largely depend on the continuous improvements and evolving advancements in the online educational market, but more importantly will be determined by the student base comfortable with technology.  In an article by Nathan Bos and N. Sadat Shami, they discuss the challenges of designing online courses.  “One of the first and foremost challenges for online learning environments is keeping the energy and focus of the class from dissipating over time. When face-to-face, skilled instructors have many techniques for capturing and holding attention and directing engagement” (Bos, Shami, 2006, p.495).  Online educational systems have come a long way with technology in a short time.  I have nearly completed my degree with all online courses, and I must admit that I struggled in the beginning.  However, I very quickly acclimated and have the motivation to engage and make the learning process effective.  Having spent time in the classroom and online, I cannot fully understand how educational institutions can debate efficacy.  My experience indicates that I have to work harder online and I certainly feel that my online educational experience is every bit as effective as the learning I have experienced in the classroom. 

Where is online education going?

Online education is on the rise!  Adult learners have embraced distance learning as a way to earn their college degrees while working and meeting their family obligations.  Younger students still tend to take the traditional in class route but are now starting to mix in online courses.  Advancements in the online programs and in technology will certainly help increase enrollment.  The idea that the efficacy of an online education is less than that of a traditional education seems to be “old school” thinking and needs to change with the times just as everything else must change.  Embrace the online experience, it is only going to continue to grow and become more prominent in the landscape of higher education!


Bonk, Curtis. (2006). The Future of Online Teaching and Learning in Higher Education: The Survey Says...Educause Review Online.  Retrieved in November 20, 2013 from: http://www.educause.edu/ero/article/future-online-teaching-and-learning-higher-education-survey-says%E2%80%A6

Taylor, P. and Maor, D. (2000). Assessing the efficacy of online teaching with the Constructivist online learning environment survey. In: 9th Annual Teaching Learning Forum, 2-4 February 2000, Perth, W.A..  Retrieved November 21, 2013 from: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/8750/

Rossett, Allison. (2005). Moving Online. ERIC Institute of Education Sciences.  Vol. 59 Issue 2, p14-15. 2p

Bos, Nathan, Shami, N. Sadat. (2006). Adapting a Face-to-Face Role- Playing Simulation for Online Play. Educational Technology Research and Development, v54 n5 p493-521 Oct 2006. 29 pp.

Guarding Against Identity Theft

Hosam Farag Com215_XP40 Blog Article Guarding Against Identity Theft Introduction Anyone who has dealt with identity theft knows how much of a nightmare it can be. Dealing with credit card companies, credit bureaus, and customer service representatives can be very overwhelming. In this article I will give you a few methods that will hopefully guard you against identity theft. Internet Precautions The easiest way for someone to steal your identity is through the world wide web. Be very cautious with the types of information you expose to the internet. Keep important information such as your birthday, your mother's maiden name, address, and social security number private. If you are paying bills online, consider paying them using the phone or through the mail. I understand it is easier to pay your bills online and a lot of people really like this option. Keeping your personal information off the world wide web greatly reduces your chances of being a victim of identity theft. If you insist on paying your bills online, make sure you have an up to date anti-virus software and firewall. The firewall is highly recommended because it will guard the stream of information that flows through your internet connection. There are plenty of anti-virus software programs available on the internet. A lot of them offer a free trial to see if you like the service. Bitdefender, McAfee, Kaspersky, and Norton are a few of the popular services that are available. The following website has the top ten anti-virus software reviews for 2013 (http://anti-virus-software-review.toptenreviews.com/). The site will also break down the services available with each provider and it will give you the cost as well. Protecting Personal Information Identity thieves have found very creative ways to steal your personal information. Never give personal information through text messages, emails, or incoming phone calls. One common method these thieves will use is sending a text message or email concerning your bank account. They will ask you for information such as your birthday, social security number, and your mother's maiden name. Please remember that your bank will never ask for this information through email or text message. Usually the only time personal information is required, is when you call the bank. Another method to guard against identity theft is to have your bank checks delivered to your bank. Having them delivered to your house is a easy way for your checks to fall into the wrong hands. Finally, investing in a shredder could be the best investment you ever made. Identity thieves will go to the extreme of searching through your garbage to steal personal information. Credit Cards and Credit Reports Keeping a close eye on your credit card statements and credit bureaus is essential to guarding against identity theft. When you receive your credit card statements check for suspicious charges that you are not familiar with. Contact your credit card company immediately if there is a charge that does not look right. Keep track of how many credit cards you have and also make sure the credit card companies have the right home address on file. When your credit card expires, you do not want your new card going to your old address. Last but not least, order you credit report every six months or at least once a year. You can obtain your report from all three credit bureaus. The bureaus are Experian, Equifax, and Transunion. Once you receive your reports, check to make sure all your information is correct. The report will list your current address, past addresses, birthday, social security number, employers, credit card information, your name, and how much debt you owe. If you have fell victim to identity theft in the past, you might want to consider establishing a fraud alert with the credit bureaus. Conclusion Identity theft can turn your life upside down. Anyone can fall victim to identity theft. It is a crime that violates people's information and personal property. The effects of identity theft can leave emotional and financial scars. Hopefully with the methods from this article you can guard your personal information from identity theft. Works Cited Neal, A. (2007). Guarding Against Identity Theft. Saturday Evening Post, 279(3), 48-96. Lankford, K. (2008). Your Id-Theft Prevention Kit. Kiplinger's Personal Finance, 62(4), 72-74.
Stephan, M. J., Pennington, S., Krishnamurthi, G., & Reidy, J. (2009). Identity Burgulary. Texas Review Of Law & Politics, 13(2), 401-418.

Facebook: Friend or Foe?

Social networking technology (including Facebook) may seem to offer a lot of fun and a unique ways to connect and share information with others, but there is a dark side that has costs that could outweigh the potential benefits. American workforce productivity and user privacy have both become challenged with the infiltration of Facebook across the U.S.; depending on your perspective that might be a good thing, or that might be a bad thing.
Facebook users continue to grow and so does the amount of time that these users spend interacting and networking. In February of 2012, Peter Cohan, a contributing author for Forbes.com, (Forbes: 2/2012) estimated that Facebook could be negatively impacting America’s working output by nearly 10%, which he equated to nearly $1.4 Trillion in U.S. GDP. That’s a significant number! When broken down, it really equates to an average use of 68 minutes/day, used each day across a 30-day month. An average 5-day work week would lose 5.6 hours to Facebook use.
Considering that Facebook is accessible through our smartphones, tablets and any internet-connected computer, it’s not difficult to tally 68 minutes of Facebook time each day. The scary part? The average use is growing, exponentially. In the same aforementioned Forbes article, Cohan cites a Nucleus Research study that showed Facebook users increased their average use time by 626% from 2009 to 2012. In a nutshell, Facebook is quickly becoming a time-sucking habit, sweeping across the nation.
However, the truth of the matter is; human beings are social creatures and therefore are dedicated to creating and participating in social networking in order to express and share their ideas. With the rise of the internet people began merely satisfying this natural urge for online communities through internet forums. In all actuality, the very same company (Forbes) that is used to argue, that Facebook and other outlets of social media are contributing to the downfall of society, is the very same company that uses Facebook to captivate and maintain successful business people in the world, in addition, attempt to recruit add-ons.
Indeed, the previous statistics appear to be big numbers and percentage signs that might throw the reader off the rocker, but it should also be noted that Mr. Nathan Forbes and Mr. Michele Jacobs, both Managing Partners and Corporate Director of Marketing Forbes have benefited from social networking when they exceeded over 738K site hits since February of 2012.
As with any social networking site, the use of Facebook carries concerns and risks around privacy. And privacy is a two-fold concern: 1) privacy of information and photos that are shared online – protecting those from wandering or unauthorized eyes, and 2) that Facebook has too much access to private (or sensitive) information; Facebook’s ability to monitor, mine and sell specific consumer data is significant.
Back in March of 2013, Facebook launched a new Facebook interactive platform named “Home” which became integrated into the entire smartphone device. This erupted concerns that Facebook would have more access to the user’s device and all other interactions that the device is used for: texts, calls, website visits, etc. The Home platform has much higher security concerns than the traditional Facebook App, since Home is “always on” and is tracking all of the smartphone interactions. With traditional Facebook, tracking ability is turned on/off simply based on when the user is logged in/out. Regardless of your stance on privacy, if you use Facebook, you have shared information that is at risk. In the digital age, any interaction and/or information is stored on a server and will always be accessible.
Through a different perspective, Facebook has maintained a valuable role in contributing to society. Though one may argue that its apps such as the “Home” app created in 2013 could violate public privacy, it’s more important to be safe than to be sorry. Reading the article written by EMS1 staff, they write: “New Facebook Apps help friends and family connect through Facebook when major catastrophic emergencies happen such as hurricanes and earthquakes” (EMSI, 2012).
Secondly, reading Police Embrace Social Media As a Crime Fighting Tool authored by Heather Kelly in fall of 2012 wrote a piece about a gang member named Melven Colon of New York who posted public photos of weapons and narcotic-related crimes and now have been taken into custody by the NYPD on charges of murder. Colon was turned in by one of his “Friends” on Facebook that agreed to let the police access his “private” information (Kelly, 2012). So the question now is; how can Facebook save your life either financially, economically or physically? Or better yet, how has Facebook changed your life and influenced others? A world without the creation of Facebook is a world full of chaos and anarchy.
Clearly, these two topics and how they relate to Facebook introduce a wide range of perspectives. Is Facebook increasing productivity by way of increasing networking activity, or is it simply draining valuable time away from primary work functions? With regards to privacy, is Facebook too risky for users to trust information shared, or can it be trusted and is this simply the next step in the evolution of privacy in a Facebook-driven world? Without stronger imperial data to suggest otherwise, Facebook seem destined to continue to steal away valuable productivity and to slowly leach away user privacy, one policy and one picture at a time.
Cohan, P. (2012, February 8). Retrieved from www.Forbes.com: http://www.forbes.com/sites/petercohan/2012/02/08/is-facebook-slicing-1-4-trillion-out-of-u-s-gdp/2/
EMSI. (2012, June 5). EMSI . Retrieved from New Facebook Apps Support Personal Preparedness for Emergencies : http://www.ems1.com/ems-products/technology/articles/1297175-New-Facebook-apps-support-personal-preparedness-for-emergencies/
Kelly, H. (2012, August 30). CNN.com. Retrieved from Police Embrace Social Media As A Crime Fighting Tool : http://www.cnn.com/2012/08/30/tech/social-media/fighting-crime-social-media/
Social Baker . (2013). Retrieved from The Most Interesting Soical Networks : http://www.socialbakers.com/resource-center/808-article-the-20-most-interesting-social-networks

Social Media: Spaced-out in Cyberspace

Can you believe that prior to Alexander Graham Bell inventing the first telephone transmitter in 1876 the primary means of communication consisted of US mail transported by horseback and railroad, face-to-face interaction, the telegraph and big city daily newspapers; intercommunication was slow moving. It wasn’t until 1965 that the first email emerged; which was basically a file directory “it just put a message in another user’s directory in a spot where they could see it when they logged in” (Peter, 2004). By 1976, the original personal computers began to surface although the main means of communication was still by mail and telephone. By 1988, the first chat rooms were in use as well as voicemail. Fast forward to 2013 and computer mediated communication (CMC) is the order of the 21st century. In contrast to previous technological advances, the new media is user-centered on interpersonal communications. “Human computer Interaction (HIC) evolved as a recognized discipline that attracts innovation and creativity; especially for the user as a human being, making the user the focal point that technology should serve and not the other way around” (Ghaoui,2006). There is no doubt that the Internet and cyberspace has exponentially assisted in linking individuals closer together more than at any other time in history. • According to Internet World Stats Usage and Population Statistics “on June 12, 2012 there were 7,0017,846,922 billion people on earth and 2,405,518,376 billion Internet users” (2012). • This is an increase of 566.4% since December of 2000 when there were only 360,985,492 million Internet users. • Social Media report 2012: Social Media Comes of Age claims “in July 2012 Americans spent 74.0 billion minutes on social media via a home computer, 40.8 billion minutes via apps, and 5.7 billion minutes via mobile web browsers, a total of 121.1 billion minutes on social networking sites compared to 88 billion in 2011” (2012). It now appears that the very technology designed to expedite, enhance and personalize intercommunication; is now essentially allowing individuals to become isolated, inaccessible, and detached.
• numerous clinical and epidemiological studies demonstrated, that Pathological Internet use (PIU) or Internet addiction (IA), is often associated with increased feelings of loneliness, depressive symptoms, anxiety, and general distress” (Wölfling, Beutel, Müller, 2012). • Identity is created or recreated in cyberspace through computer-mediated communication by emphasizing on the importance of media and particularly the internet in the process of socialization” (Kazeroun, 2008). • In her interview with Daily Mail Online, Baroness Greenfield a neuroscientist at Oxford University and director of the Royal Institution feels that “these technologies are infantilizing the brain into the state of small children who are attracted by buzzing noises and bright lights, who have a small attention span and who live for the moment” (Derbyshire, 2009).
Insufficient and absence of actual face-to-face communication(s) and interaction(s) between live flesh bodies not only affects personal communication between individuals. This lack of physical presence greatly influences other fundamental and essential areas of one’s life. With today’s declining job market one’s social media page play’s a principal part in whether one is granted an interview let alone offered employment. Jobvite.com points out that “88% of all job seekers have at least one social networking profile; 64% have two profiles and 44% have three” (2012). Most information on the Internet is now stored, recorded, and cataloged by the government and may never be completely expunged “the new interactive media is said to have vulnerable potential to enhance public communications. With appropriate policies and institutional support, some of that potential may be realized. Otherwise, it could be compromised and co-opted by forces with their own axes to grind, relegated to tricky sidelines, or just submerged by other games” (Blumler, Gurevitch 2001). Materialistically speaking, it truly is a “buyers beware” world and cybernetically speaking it is truly a “users beware” world. One does not have to search far and wide on the World Wide Web to discover that just a little caution, forethought, and critical thinking is all that is needed to strap on one’s mental and emotional jet pack and aim for the stars as one carefully, prudently, and judiciously navigates his or her way through interstellar cyberspace. Thanks Michael Valdez
References Derbyshire, D. (2009). Social websites harm children's brains: Chilling warning to parents from top neuroscientist | Mail Online. Home | Mail Online. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1153583/Social-websites-harm-childrens brains-Chilling-warning-parents-neuroscientist.html Ghaoui, C. (2006). Encyclopedia of human computer interaction. Hershey PA: Idea Group Reference. http://books.google.com/books Jay G. Blumler & Michael Gurevitch (2001) THE New Media and our Political Communication Discontents: Democratizing Cyberspace, Information, Communication & society, 4:1, 1-13 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/713768514 Jobvite. (n.d.). Jobvie. http://web.jobvite.com/rs/jobvite/images/Jobvite_JobSeeker_FINAL_2012.pdf Kazeroun, M. H. (2008). Identity in Hyperreal World: How Identity Shapes in Cyberspace? International Journal, 6(8), 35-42. Newswire | Social Media Report 2012: Social Media Comes of Age | Nielsen . (2012). Nielsen - What People Watch - What People Buy . http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/newswire/2012/social-media-report-2012-social-media- comes-of-age.html Peter, I. (n.d.). History of email. Internet History Resource Centre. http://www.nethistory.info/History%20of%20the%20Internet/email.html Wölfling K, Beutel ME, Müller KW (2012) Construction of a Standardized Clinical Interview to Assess Internet addiction: First Findings Regarding the Usefulness of AICA- C. J Addict Res Ther S6:003. doi:10.4172/2155-6105.S6-003 World Internet Users Statistics Usage and World PopulationStats. (n.d.). Internet World Stats - Usage and Population Statistics. http://"www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm">www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm

Passwords to keep you safe

Use a strong password or phrases for access to your data by any device whether in your home or office.  Employing the strongest reasonable passwords on your devices will ensure that your data remain secure and uncompromised.  When logging into different websites, it is highly recommended to use a different password or phrase for each site.  Many people like to use the same or one other password for several websites so that they can make it easier to remember those passwords.  By doing so, if the passwords get accessed by an unwelcomed user, your secure data will be compromised.  

Another way of securing passwords is a completely random combination of characters. One may also have lengthy passwords using numbers, symbols, and alphabetic characters of both upper and lower case letters.  If you fear the challenge of remembering the different passwords, another option is to store the passwords or phrases in a safe place such as a special notebook and securing it in a drawer at home.

Online communication greatly depends on one’s ability to keep the words they write as their own. Hacking attempts and leaked databases indicate that someone else might be able to take over your account. Once accomplished, the intruder could write something that is contradictory to everything you have built online. Keeping your password safe and unique is a difficult task with the many threats that are presented in today’s digital age. Additionally, recording all the websites someone uses can make using a unique password a full-time job in itself. Others have seen this issue and responded by creating an open sourced password manager called KeePass.

As suggested above, it is ideal for passwords to be unique and different for all websites. The following scenario supports this: say a hacker gains access to a secure site and downloads the user database that houses all of the usernames and passwords for the site. Clearly, this site is now compromised and the data is free for the hacker to use. Something that many hackers might try is to use the username and password combinations on other sites to gain access to them as well. If one of those username/password combinations was yours, and you used the same combination repeatedly, this single point of intrusion has now given a hacker full access to your digital life. In addition to using different passwords on all your regularly visited sites, you should use unique and long passwords. An example of a highly secure password follows:

the quick brown fox jumps over the fence”.

One would think this phrase, in its entirety as a password, is strong. According to www.passwordmeter.com it ranks at a 67%. But, keeping the same phrase but changing a few letters will help make the password near impossible to crack:

Th3 qu1ck 8r0wn foX jumps 0v3r th3 f3nc3!”.

This password ranks very strong and scores 100%.

KeePass is a piece of software that houses all of your login and password info into an encrypted database for safe keeping. Now let’s talk about how to store all the unique passwords for each site that you have. KeePass was developed to help users close the gap between using passwords that are just long enough, to using maximum character unique passwords that would take super computers hundreds of thousands of years to crack. KeePass will allow users to auto generate passwords for whatever account they create a password for. This helps to keep passwords unique for each individual site. This also helps to keep the user from having to rest every password on every site, should they have the same password on multiple sites. KeePass uses an encrypted database to store all of your passwords and requires a user to have a very long and unique password to unlock the encrypted database. This program was first developed with intended password storage for the personal computer, but it has been expanded to adapt to this continually evolving digital age. The KeePass program can now be used on both iOS and Android devices with a rumored Windows Phone app coming soon, allowing users to keep their passwords unique and safe for each app that requires one. KeePass is a very popular option in password management but there are many others out there so try one that fits you requirements.

Installation of KeePass is very simple. Once downloaded from their website, run the installation package selecting the defaults. Now that the program is installed, run it for the first time. It will ask you to create a password key for unlocking the database file for KeePass. This password you want to be super strong as it will protect all other passwords. Once this is set up, you can now add websites to KeePass. Add the website URL and then the username. The next step you can have KeePass auto-generate the password and then you just need to update the websites stored info or you can try in your current password. I found the more secure option was to auto-generate the password. Click save and the site is now set. Now when you visit the site you can fire up KeePass right click on the website save password to clipboard and paste into the password field.

With your logins for all your websites unique and different, you are now safe from any leak or attack on online companies you deal with. Just remember that if a site you use gets compromised, your password will need to be reset and updated in your password manager. I have personally used KeePass for the past year or more and find that the changes and enhancement made best suit my needs for password management. I use both the desktop and mobile apps to keep my passwords safe and secure no matter where I’m at.

The federal, state, and local government implemented policies and initiatives to improve cyber security.  Individuals have become more dependent on technological information and devices. Individuals have moved on to acquiring organizational information on personal devices.  According to Asllani, et. al (2013), “The doctrine of cyber security as a public good necessitates the financing of cyber security through taxes and justifies the role of government in its attempt to enhance cyber security.  The doctrine demands that federal, state, and local governments provide a comprehensive legal, social, ethical, regulatory, and liability framework to protect individuals and organizations from the threat of cybercrime or cyber terrorism” (p. 10).  Other means of providing enhancements to cyber security through the government is providing education, improve the criminal justice system to fight cyber security, fight and prosecute in cyber terrorism, protect digital rights, and regulate compliance in cyber security.

Miscommunication in Cyberspace

A few weeks ago, I set out to learn how we interact in cyberspace; what tools are we using to connect, what are we looking for there, what are we doing there, and are we satisfied with our experiences? The answers to the questions seemed to be resounding versions of, “mobile devices, connection, mostly wasting time, and no.”
My first attempt to delve into this topic was with a study group through a number of brainstorming sessions. Seemingly appropriate, we decided to try to use innovative new internet-based tools, which we had previously never or rarely used before, to share our thoughts and ideas on the subject. We had no luck utilizing email, chat, FaceTime, social media, or even our own class’ online learning portal’s chat feature. Either the tools we tried were not suited for our needs or were unavailable for all of the members of the group who needed access. After many attempts, to no avail, we had to settle with an old school approach to accomplish our task. Eventually, two of us, after speaking on the phone, decided that we should just try a three-way phone call. After multiple attempts, we were finally able to establish a real-time multiple user connection. Granted, I haven’t made a three-way phone call since elementary school and I didn’t even think to ever make one on my cell phone until this particular instance, it was hardly an innovative new communication device or solution that ultimately solved our problem. In the end, we were best able to communicate by picking up a phone at our own convenience, and (God Forbid!) letting it ring in hopes of someone picking it up on the other end, and then speaking to each other. The truth is that our communication efforts were best facilitated using technology that became popular in the early 90’s – a voice call over cellular service. This experience was the first real answer to the questions that I was seeking to answer about cyber-communication and it clearly proved that, although we have more tools to communicate, we are not communicating any better than before with these tools. It is clear that we are either over-communicating or under-communicating, but still struggling to figure out how to communicate appropriately and effectively in cyberspace.
Although our cell phones have advanced greatly since the first commercial cellular telephone network launched in Tokyo in 1979, our ability to communicate and connect through them does not seem to have improved much since then. If anything, there appears to be more evidence to the contrary. Sure, there are more ways to attempt to communicate using smart phones and mobile devices these days, but these applications are not any more efficient or effective in satisfying our wants or needs in the realm or communication. Internet-enabled resources- such as computers, phones, and tablets- that allow us to instantly “connect” with the rest of the world in virtual social settings have created a cyber culture and spawned entirely new forms of communication and interaction. At the same time as these resources seem to be rapidly expanding, our attention spans, social skills, and actual connections are being ever more diminished. 
After my group session, I reached out on Facebook asking people to tell me about their experiences with cyber-communication. Not surprisingly, my friends who responded said that their number one gripe was usually related to lack of “real” or “intimate” connections and very closely related was the inability to detect “tone”. Everyone told me that the connections they made online felt fake, forced, or fleeting when they felt like they could be interpreted at all, while many of the rest of the communications were either irrelevant, ignored, or confusing. Although a number of responders noted that they love how they could “keep in touch” with or follow people that they would not have or take the time to otherwise, these types of interactions are mostly interpersonal or fall into the categories of “fleeting” or “forced” exchanges. And, again, everyone said that they wish that they could decipher the voice or extrapolate the intentions of the online messages. The receivers of web-based messages all mentioned that they were unsure of how to interpret or even comb through the constant and overwhelming stream of messages that they are bombarded with whenever they are online.
Similarly, I reached out to co-workers and family members when I had some face-to-face water-cooler time. Almost everyone I questioned said that their biggest everyday gripe was essentially too many messages with not enough significant (or too much irrelevant) information contained within them. Nobody likes “reply all” messages, inappropriate “cc-ing”, or long e-mail threads that seem to never end. Ironically, companies are often turning to and requiring more and more cyber-communication over face-to-face communications for various reasons. Despite the complaints, obvious draw-backs and limitations of this type of model, companies are turning to cyberspace to supplement, enhance, or even replace physical workplace interactions. The question is whether this trend will be a key to their success or a tool of their own demise.
So, the take-away from my cyber-experiment is that there are a few key problems with our online communication experiences in all of it’s forms, including our interpersonal, interpersonal, small group, and public. In short, the major issues in all areas are:
·      Tools that are not developed for the types of communication tasks that we want/need to accomplish
·      Users are not trained, informed, or aware of the communication tools that would best suit their needs
·      Tools that are incompatible with each other and across multiple user platforms or devices
·      Multiple users utilizing the same tools in different ways
·      Cultural obsession with a lot of instantaneous and numerous results, even in communication interactions (instant gratification vs. long-term results and quantity over quality)

          Presently, we are in a place where we have had enough access to new types of communication technology just long enough to understand how not to use it. It is as if cyber-communication is still in the beta phase and we are all the testers, but the developers have no idea what it is we need and we have no clue what we are really testing. The users and the developers need to have the discussion about the end-goal and define what it is that they are trying to accomplish, in order for truly valuable communication products to be created. Our lives will not be enhanced with more meaningful interactions and deeper connections until we establish it as a goal, believe in it, seek it out, and work hard to create it according to our (the user’s) definition.