Making Sense of Maps, the Internet and the User…

Our experience on the World Wide Web (WWW) is mapped out, but what does this really look like and how is it played out?

internet and web mapSource: 

As technology continues to advance and our access and usage of the information readily available becomes more frequent we are creating traces for the internet to mock or even predict what we want to see. Being followed, mocked or even clicking on specific content whether you are looking for yourself or someone else begins to create a pattern of browsing history, whether for the good or bad. What you click on can help brands and organizations use algorithms and your browsing history to predict your future actions or show you content you are more likely to engage with based on your search history!

Even web developers are using mapping techniques. Spilka states,”When designers create sitemaps, their attention becomes focused on document features or virtual space as a type of information design: organization becomes an invention strategy, a method of arrangement, and a way to increase the likelihood that the information will serve audience needs and correspond to user assumptions and expectations” (Spilka, 2010). As you can see their a players behind the screens who are helping websites be more efficient at predicting what it is that they want their users to “use theirs site” for. Web developers are using the world wide web to better fine tune their audience and present them with the information they hope to see. In congruence with what the web developers are doing, site notifications are a new visual you may begin to notice when you click on a site.

Here is what a website notification on Google Chrome looks like.

notifcationsSource: Google Images

This notification may prompt the user to click “allow” or “block” in order to continue to see notifications that pertain to this site. If the user proceeds with clicking “allow,” this will enable the website you selected “allow” notifications for to send you any related updates.

If you are an individual that didn’t even know this existed or typically select, “allow” to remove the notification from what you are trying to look at. Check out the fowling link to see what notifications you have that pre exist and how remove these notifications, if interested, or what to do in the future:

Going further, Spilka reiterates this, “Becoming a mapmaker means selecting and arranging pre existing information in order to assist a user in learning something or accomplishing some task, often with visual extra-textual display of the data” (Spilka, 2010). So, is this trend becoming to invasive for our searches on the internet or is it aiding us by providing us with the information we are most likely to engage with depending on our internet searches and interests?

Posted on November 4, 2018, in Social Media. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Hi Kim,

    Thanks for your post this week. I think that in the example you provided, specifically the Facebook notification example, it shows that this trend is aiding by providing the user information they want to engage with. Since it’s an optional notification (i.e. yes, receive notification or block notifications) the user can choose how they want to proceed. I think it becomes more complicated when the user isn’t asked if they want to participate in what the search engines or web developers are making. An example of this might be sponsored ads on a website, where the search engine can recognize your browsing history and sell it to the highest bidder to advertise specifically to that user on that site at that time. I think it’s getting more and more complicated to know what is being tracked and what isn’t.


    • Good point, Brittney, about not being asked!

    • Hi Brittney,

      Thank you for your feedback this week. You make a great point about “not being” asked and the issues that can arise from this. Do you think it would become tiresome as a user to have to click “allow” or “block” each time you arrive at a new site? You are absolutely right with sponsored ads. These ads are becoming more frequent in news feeds and even on platforms like Instagram they are embedded within your feeds regular posts. While a user can easily be fooled for the first time that a sponsored ad is not native content, it’s important to begin to recognize how the world of advertisements and companies desire to continue to be where their target users are is an important factor to consider especially how these notifications and even sponsored ads are embedding us into their notifications and offerings.



      • Great post, Kim.

        I wanted to jump in here and add a perspective. In this example, I appreciate that Facebook is at least asking users if they want to start receiving notifications (rather than just forcing it on them). However, one thing that I find annoying about these notifications is that they appear on many websites and they request access to different things. After awhile, it can feel kind-of annoying and intrusive.

        I read a comment the other day where a person didn’t feel like voting in the midterm election because they were tired of receiving automatic text messages from organizations telling them to vote. I think this is an over-the-top reaction and a bit silly, but it shows that notifications, even if it’s information that is supposedly helpful to the user, can be intrusive.

        It makes me believe that web developers may need to rethink how they get user’s attention, without interrupting their experience. I don’t know how one could go about this, but it’s interesting to think about and keep in mind.

  2. I’ve been studying the use of website trackers or cookies this semester. The analytics are fascinating. From a digital marketing standpoint, the information gained is very useful. It helps companies reach potential customers and organizations (such as political affiliations) find supporters. And it can actually help users see companies or products they may have missed in organic web searches. However, I struggle with the privacy issue and then wonder where the line is. Although we can agree or decline to have this information tracked, let’s be honest, there is much more being tracked than you actually realize you are consenting to.

    My studies in the M.S. Internet and Communications Technologies concern me. Well, not so much the actual studies but rather what I learn through all my research. I believe many of us who understand what privacy is or was will continue to struggle with wanting to be a web user/engager but also want to hold onto some sort of privacy. Younger generations have grown up in the web and social media world and don’t seem to be overly concerned. However, even as a graduate technology student, I am very concerned.

    • JJ–just think about what you know that so many of us, particularly the younger generation, don’t! THAT concerns me! But as I’ve said in my intro post in d2l, many of my students last Spring admitted they barely have a public-facing permanent social media presence. So perhaps there is hope!

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