Week 2 – Research Topic

One of the possible topics that I have thought about for my capstone research project is the topic of website analytics and how it can affect us users of the internet. Since I am majoring in Business Analytics and Information Technology, I have a significant interest in how information is collected, stored, and used. I also am interested in how certain known information can affect the future and help companies make future decisions. For example, if a stock price historically has been going up because of some sort of market situation, then we can predict with the information that we have that it will (with a certain probability) go up tomorrow as well. Also, since I am a DCIM minor, there is that aspect of the digital realm that I wanted to add into my research project as well. Last semester I took Structure of Information, and was extremely intrigued at the way certain news companies present there articles. I learned that a lot of the time these news agencies really just want user clicks so that they can show their advertisers that they have a lot of visitors (and therefore ensuring that the news agencies are paid and profitable). I also learned Google will, over time, collect private information about a user and their search practices, and then show specific search results directly catered to them. This raises some questions about companies like Google, and the many other websites that use user information to make a profit. I want to talk about these question in my research paper, along with the tools and methods companies use to gather information. I want to discuss how the more we have these “free” digital services, the less privacy we actually have. Lastly, I want to talk about how some online websites use the click bait method to gain a lot of traffic on their site, and how it can affect the user.

Research 1 – Click bait: Forward-reference as lure in online news headlines

Keywords – online news headlines, forward-reference, click bait

Link:  http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378216614002410

Summary – This research mainly focuses on how journalists use forward-referencing headlines to induce people to read their article because of the added curiosity and intrigue. This paper analyzes 100,000 headlines from 10 Danish news sites to show how these types of headlines are used in media sites and what content they affect. The main question the researchers asked was, “What makes the reader click?” This is an important question journalists ask themselves as well because they need to have people click on their headlines to read their material, and look at any possible ads on that page to help fund the website.  The methods that were used was a quantitative two step big data analysis. The Danish headlines were randomly collected and coded in a way so that whenever a forward referencing title was used, it would be counted for. The results of this research show that forward-referencing is used mostly on soft news content, such as entertainment, weather, and sports news. This paper fits into my topic because it shows that many news sites use the click-bait method to gain a certain amount of clicks for their own benefit. They use headlines that intrigue people and make them wonder about the future.

Research 2 – Journalism is Twerking?

Keywords – gatekeeping, audience, journalism, web analytics

Link: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378216614002410

Summary – This research describes how it’s not only soft news outlets, but even hard news outlets such as CNN manipulate headlines in order to gain a larger amount of clicks. Journalists need these clicks in order to survive in this difficult environment, and use audience information as a source of capital for their agencies.  The main methods used in this paper were case studies, which aims to look at cases holistically rather than dissecting certain parts. The research methods that were used were participant information and interviews to gather information. The results show that the stories that got good traffic based on web analytics would get updates and follow-ups on that news topic, and therefore create more traffic. This article is very relevant to what I want to include in my research because it talks about how news sites gatekeep their information, which means that they manipulate and mold information to turn it into news. I find that interesting because sometimes things may not even be actual news but still get on to sites that are supposed to provide hard news.

Research 3 – Privacy Problems with Web 2.0

Keywords – privacy, personal, data

Link  http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S136137231170104X

Summary – This article talks about the numerous advances we have made within technology and how they are really beneficial. However, it highlights that with the advent of these technologies, there is also a higher privacy issues on the rise. It talks about how online social networks are mainly driven by personal information that is shared or voluntarily given to these sites. This is a key issue that I want to focus on in the paper, the idea of privacy. Although we voluntarily give sites such as Facebook and Google our information, we sometimes do not realize the extent to which these companies utilize our information. When something is “liked” on Facebook, that information gets stored somewhere in Facebook’s database so it can be used later on. I want to focus on not only news headlines, but other methods companies use to get us to click on a certain thing. For example, if we “like” something related to traveling on Facebook, we cannot be surprised if we later see an ad about Kayak or another travel agency. Here, we clicked on something that shared a piece of information about us, so that Facebook could use that information and sell it to the highest bidding advertiser.  Overall, I find that the methods these companies use are interesting and should be discussed further.

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