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Despite emphatic claims concerning the end of massmedia, empirical research on the way in which this transition is actually taking place is somehow lacking,especially for what concerns European countries. This paper presents the results of a research performedduring the course of and on the media diet of university students in Italy.


The results of our researchshow that university students seem indeed less inclined to use traditional media such as television andradio, while they are increasingly connecting to the web.

However, our results suggest that, even ifuniversity students are overall quite familiar with digital technologies, the general achieving of high levelskills in accessing and using the Internet should not be taken for granted. Keywords: Digital Media; Digital Natives; Media Diet; Social Network SitesRezumatProgrese în tehnologiile de comunicație şi informație au atras discuții referitoare la tranziția între mediilevechi, tradiționale şi cele noi, digitale.

În ciuda apelurilor emfatice anunțând sfârşitul mass mediei,cercetările empirice asupra modului în care această tranziție are loc în realitate sunt nesatisfăcătoare, înspecial în cazul țărilor europene. Această lucrare prezintă rezultatele cercetării efectuate pe parcursulanilor şi pe consumul de media a studenților din Italia. Rezultatele cercetării noastrearată că studenții par a fi într-adevăr mai puțin înclinați să utilizeze mijloacele de comunicație tradiționaleprecum televizorul şi radioul şi preferă să se conecteze la Internet.

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Însă, rezultatele noastre sugerează că,deşi tehnologiile digitale le sunt familiare studenților, aceasta nu implică automat şi un nivel ridicat aldeprinderilor acestor studenți în ceea ce priveşte accesarea şi utilizarea Internetului.

The scope of change has all thecharacteristics of a real revolution. Major changes in the evolution of communication technologies and in the transmission ofknowledge surely can have deep impact on a social, economic, cultural and cognitive level.

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We allknow that the introduction of the printing press was one of the major forces that determined a seriesof long-term changes in politics, science, religion and culture, that finally contributed to give birthto what is commonly referred to as the modern and capitalistic society Weber ; Eisenstein, The Internet will likely produce similar effects, even if we are not now in the position toanticipate the direction and magnitude of these changes, as soon as they are still unfolding Carr,; Castells, One of the things that we can do at present is trying to analyse more in depth the trends that seemsto be consolidating, as far as the transition from old to new media is taking place.

A specific focusof attention is related, in particular, to the attitudes of younger generation, as they will likely be themain protagonists not only of this phase of transition, but also of the future of the Internet. In theinternational literature, a series of survey-based research and case studies are currently available Lenhart et al.

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In particular, youngsters are increasingly involved in social network sites likeFacebook and MySpace Boyd,in the creation of blogs, in producing and sharing new audiovideomaterial on sites such as YouTube and Vimeo, and in general in all that complex of activitiesof social networking, bookmarking and sharing that is part of the so-called Web 2. Unfortunately, the available evidence we have briefly mentioned above is related almostexclusively to research carried out in the context of the United States, dr battle arlington tx pierdere în greutate is one of the very fewcountries that dr battle arlington tx pierdere în greutate managed to put in place a systematic effort of data collection and analysisconcerning the development and the social diffusion of the Internet.

As far as other European countries are concerned, it seems that there issomehow a shortage in available data. The quantitative survey was based on a questionnaire that was submittedto a random sample of undergraduate students at the University of Milano-Bicocca.

Data werecollected in different rounds, between the months of March and April and April and July To avoid selection sample biases, we choose to administrate the questionnaire when studentsaccessed the University laboratories in order to complete their test on informatics and on languageskills, compulsory examinations that all students need to pass if they want to go on in the course oftheir study.

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We also dropped out of theanalysis questionnaires with incomplete answers. Overall, we obtained a total of valid answersin and valid answers in 2.

The questionnaire consisted of 30 questions, divided in four parts; in the first part, we asked a seriesof general questions concerning the relationship with technology and the rates of diffusion of somespecific devices not only personal computer and mobile phone, but also digital camera, mp3player, satellite navigator and so on. In the third part we analysed thepropensity to use the personal computer and the level of involvement with the Internet, while thelast part of the questionnaire was specifically addressed to the use of Web 2.

No 14 - Journal of Social Informatics / Revista de Informatica Sociala

ResultsAlmost the total of our sample reported to use a computer. The use of the mobile phone as a toolto surf the Internet, or to check the mail, does not appear to be widespread in our sample, with lessthan one student out of ten declaring to do so. As a matter of fact, in more than a student out of two declared to watch no more than 5 hours of television per week, the The substantial alienation from thetelevision that was manifested in the data seems to be fully confirmed by data collected in, as the percentage of students who watch television less than five hours per week rose to Clearly, it seemsthat our target population is less inclined to watch television than the national average.

We cansomehow take this to mean that a sort of substitution effect is taking place here, with rates of usageof new media increasing and at the same time declining uses of traditional media among ourpopulation of university students.

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Data concerning the radio and the books seems to providecorroborating evidence in favour of this assumption. As far as the use of the radio is concerned, we can see that in the Once again, these data seem to be significantly lower than thenational average, and a little below also the data related to the age cohort As for the readingof books, data collected in show that the The figure for shows a slight sign of improvementin reading: the percentage of non-readers decreases revoluția slăbită nearly 2 percentage arzător de grăsime de 21 de zile, the percentage ofmoderate reader, that is, those who read fewer than five books a year, decreases by four points,while the number of studeNone 13,5 11,7Less than 5 48,6 44,6Less than 10 20,9 26,7More than 10 15,5 15,6n.

Overall, we can therefore sum up one of the main evidence coming out from our research by sayingthat in the media diet of our university students, the Internet is by far the most preferred media,followed at a certain distance by the television, while the radio has a residual place.

At a nationallevel, considering the whole Italian population, the opposite seems to hold: the television is in factthe most preferred media, dr battle arlington tx pierdere în greutate by the radio and by the Internet. As already said, a significant part of our questionnaire was also focused on the diffusion and use oftools of the so-called social web, or web 2.

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Data onthe diffusion of blogs seem to provide a kind of mixed evidence, and overall the phenomenon surelydeserves additional investigations. On the other side, it is interesting to look specifically at theintensity of substantial involvement in blogging, that could be assessed by considering thefrequency with which the blog itself is updated; the percentage of respondents who say they neverupdate their blog increases, from Obviously, we cannot extrapolate any long term trend as we got only two years ofobservations, but we can postulate that a number of subjects are shifting from the use of blogs to theuse of some kind of social networks in particular, in the case of our sample, to Facebook, as wewill see ; this might contribute to explain why the number of bloggers is diminishing, while at thesame time the number of regular bloggers is raising.

The majority of our sample It is worth remembering that the boom of popularity ofFacebook in Italy substantially started in the summer of Also our data clearly confirm a radical increase in the number ofsubjects who have a Facebook account, that goes from 7.

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It seems that Facebook is mostly used in order to meet new friends, as the Wikipedia too is quite a popular site, with the Data concerning MySpace are interesting because this is the only site whose popularity actually isdecreasing between and even if still well known only a student out of ten does notknow about itthe percentage of subjects who do not use it goes up from It is likely that this decrease has to be somehow connected with the explosive growth ofFacebook, as we can postulate a sort of competition between these two sites, in analogy to what hasalready happened in other countries see for example the analysis made by Boyd,for whatconcerns the US.

I often use itI seldom use it6. Data relating to the active creation of content donot show significant changes in the two surveys, too. The percentage of active and creative usersalways remains substantially low Figure 6ranging from the However, if considered in comparison with other similar research reported in theinternational literature 4they seem to point in a common direction, as far as the relationshipsbetween university students and social media is concerned.

The new generation of students showsvery high rates of use of the computer and of connection to the Internet; on the other side, wecannot infer that this use is automatically related to high levels of technological expertise and digitalliteracy.

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In particular, what are usually considered as the more advanced features of Web 2. The fact that, anyway, other applications still remain largely unknown to a great majority of oursample, and that among the least known we find sites for social bookmarking and sharing contentsuch as Delicious and SlideShare, or for microblogging as Twitter, may lead us to reflect moreaccurately on the actual impact of the Web 2. On the other side, thisgeneralization can also masks the presence of some specific differences between applications.

Talking about the educational relevance of social media, these differences can, however, assume aspecific importance. Future research should perhaps further investigate these issues, looking morein depth at the different activities that each specific application can support, and how this can belinked to its diffusion. Interesting suggestions in these sense can be found in the already mentionedresearch by Kennedy et al. See also Hargittai - Traditional web use: searching the web to find information or for other general purposes,sending and receiving email;- Creating and using media: managing and modifying digital images, creating presentations,creating and editing audio and video files;- Web 2.