All 17 entries tagged Web 2
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December 23, 2007
Growth of the Blogosphere
The Growth of Blogging in 2007
What is Blogging?
Please go to BBC Webwise site if you are unsure.
In 2005 a survey found out that:
Research conducted among taxi drivers, hairdressers and pub landlords - backed up by conventional market research of more than 1,000 adults in the UK - has found that seven out of 10 people don't know what a blog is. Nine out of 10 don't know what podcasting or flashmobbing are. ( Blogging v dogging)
By 2006 the BBC World Affairs Correspondent Paul Reynolds had this to say:
I regard the blogosphere as a source of criticism that must be listened to and as a source of information that can be used.
The mainstream media (MSM in the jargon) has to sit up and take notice and develop some policies to meet this challenge. (Bloggers: an army of irregulars)
The November figures from the Netcraft organisation suggest: that in 2007 there has been an increase of 40 million sites since the start of the year:
Much of the growth in sites this year has come from the increasing number of blogging sites, in particular at Live Spaces, Blogger and MySpace.
Web 2.0 is clearly making a phenomenal difference to the lives of literally millions of publishers. This is a phenomenon which is really without precedent. The Gutenberg revolution was obviously a massive step in human development but how what we are witnessing now will be considered in a few decades time is liekly to be seen a huge leap forward in the development of humanity. In terms of culture as well as wealth and methods of education and doing politics interactivity is the way forward.
One blog created 'every second'
Blogs vie with news for eyeballs
March 15, 2007
Glossary for New Media Technologies: A–N
This glossary was originally created for the AS New Media Technologies Unit.
Please note that this glossary is updated and expanded fairly regularly. It is intended that this will give you access to a wide range of terms that are conceptual as well as technical. You don’t have to learn all the terms just use the glossary as a point of reference to help you out if you get stuck. Hope you find it useful.
The development of Web 2.0 with the ability to gain feeds about new media technologies should make it easier to keep updated.
Students are strongly advised to add in feeds from sources such as the BBC Technology pages onto their own blogs in order to keep abreast of any changes.
Advertising. Any new mass media has enormous advertising potential as it can bring together audiences and advertisers in new and more effective ways. See paid for search and online advertising.
Analogue. Non digital form of recording and reproduction. Standard terrestrial TV is still fed from analogue transmissions however these are gradually being replaced by digital free-to-air services transmitted by the BBC. See linear editing.
ASDL. A broadband digital transmission technology which can send far more data down existing domestic phone lines than either conventional modems or ISDN. BT’s system offers half a megabyte per second. In Japan the latest in ASDL technology is offering Megabytes per second. This is more than adequate to use full-frame video streaming. Even faster FTTH technology is being pushed in Japan. Being cheaper to install it is now the major competitor to digital cable links provided by companies such as NTL. It requires special equipment at the exchange. ASDL is likely to be available to 90% of the population by mid-2005.
BT are also experimenting with mid-band.
Bandwidth. The amount of digitally encoded data which can be transmitted by particular systems.
Blogs. User generated material on specially created programmes that require no knowledge of coding and mark-up language. Now used for a variety of purposes from personal to political and company driven. A core part of Web 2 (2.0) if you like. Here is the Wikipedia entry
Blueray. See Format wars
Bluetooth. This is a wireless system which allows different products to communicate with each other using a common protocol. It is able to transmit large amounts of data. Portable computers can link to desktop computers or mobile phones via Bluetooth. You may well have a mobile phone with a Bluetooth wireless earpiece for example.
Broadband. The digital Holy Grail is having all homes linked to broadband networks which can handle huge amounts of digitally encoded data. It should be possible to be engaged in such things as video-conferencing and downloading films in real-time simultaneously in the same household. Likely to take several years to be fully developed and installed in a significant number of households. An important feature is the ability to have two of more computers from the same household linked to the internet. Currently it costs about £30 per month. Rumoured that the latest hard-disc recorders will add broadband internet access and be able to stream video and audio to TV, See also digital set-top boxes. Since writing this not so long ago the scenario has changed dramatically in the UK. This January 2007 story from the BBC shows "BT as having signed up 10 million broadband users".
CD Rewritable. This is a CD which can be recorded and then recorded over rather like an audiocassette. Not all CD-Players can replay these however as the system works on different laser frequencies. See also Rewritable digital media.
CD-Rom. These are CDs which are Read Only Memory (ROM). These are used for selling computer programmes. The data on them cannot be changed.
Citizenship. This concept builds on earlier ideas of citizenship which focused upon economic, political and social concerns. Economic citizenship gave people the right to trade, political citizenship gave people the rights to vote and have representative electable governments with powers limited by law. Social citizenship gave people the right to health care, education and pensions. See also cultural citizenship.
CMS. see Content Management Software.
Content Management Software. Content management software helps users organise their download materials. iTunes is probably the best known of these. It can be used to subsribe to podcast services for example as well a place where music or video content may be purchased. You can click this link to go to the free iTunes downloads site. (This should not be deemed as an endoresment of Apple's CMS above any other ones.). News from the BBC 12th of Jan 07 says that iTunes has made a deal with the Sundance film festival to make films available for download.
Convergence. You must know this term for the OCR AS exam*. This is the current process whereby new media and communications technologies are changing not only our media equipment but changing the ways old media institutions have worked. It is also globalising and changing our systems of gaining knowledge. The process is still in transition with new developments rapidly emerging. In a few years these processes will have matured and will be less dynamic. The way that mobile phones are now turning into multi-player gaming machines or able to provide location based information and send back images by wireless technology is a good example of convergent technologies creating new markets. See iPhone for a good example of this.
Cultural Citizenship. Cultural citizenship is about access to systems of representation within the arts and media to ensure that all have the knowledge and capabilities to represent themselves.
Cybersquatters. These are companies or individuals individuals who have registered variations or misspellings of its key brands, such as “Xbox”. They can make a lot of money out of this and also get respectable brands bad reputations. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/6449363.stm
Device for digitally storing still images. Whilst still unable to achieve the levels of image definition of conventional film higher capacity chips and storage systems are continuously eroding the quality difference. With the correct devices an image can be transmitted over the web instantaneously.
Desktop Recording Studio. The growth of podcasting has seen a growth of available desktop recording studios with some being USB powered and others having separate power supplies. Often small but flexible units they provide an interface with analogue microphones and computers. They can be combined with powerful software to create different effects and they can also have inputs from devices such as CD players and electronic instruments. empowering users to podcast onto the internet they are powerful tools in the collaborative and user generated world of Web 2.0. Below an early model the Lexicon Omega and the more recent Digidesign MBox2.
Digital Distribution. It is necessary to differentiate between models of 'Business to Business' distribution and 'Business to Consumer' distribution. Digital forms of distribution can be advantageous to both small-scale ‘cottage’ industry sized companies and large media corporations. Digital videos can be distributed globally by specialist we-sites globally when users have high speed connections. They are only likely to find individuals often with little purchasing power. Large film companies can distribute to points of mass exhibition such as cinemas or outdoor arenas by high speed optic fibre cable or else via digital satellite links. With encrypted technologies it is now possible to release a film globally in cinemas if necessary in different versions for different markets on the same day. This will reduce piracy and maximise marketing opportunities whilst reducing significantly distribution costs. The ability to respond instantly to audience demand by downloading onto servers instead of relying on expensive and relatively slow multiple copy distribution will help increase profits and retain and develop audiences.
Digital divide. A very important social and cultural concept of the ‘information age’. This term refers to those who have access to a wide range of digital communications systems in terms of cost and knowledge and those who are excluded from this. It is becoming a serious problem of citizenship.
Digital set-top box. These boxes can receive digitally transmitted TV and Radio transmissions via satellite ( typically in Britain Sky), cable ( typically in Britain NTL and Telewest) and a standard TV aerial ( Freeview). Pace in conjunction with Sky + and others with hard disc-based digital recorders. Sky + has a 40 Gigabyte hard disc. A similar box is now being offered to Freeview viewers. It has a twin tuner and a 20 gigabyte hard disc. With a twin tuner it is possible to watch one programme or listen to radio whilst recording another.
Digital storage medium. Generic term for a wide range of storage media such as mini-disc, CD, CD-ROM, Hard disc, floppy-disc etc. These media may sometimes be designed by a company to only fit their products. Others will be generic. Some will be read only such as a CD or DVD game or film. Others are random access and as such can be totally or partially used many times.
Digital Versatile Disc / DVD. A disc which although the same size as a CD can hold many times the amount of data due to a combination of more sophisticated data compression systems, the ability to store and retrieve data from different levels of the disc. This means that moving images can be stored in a way which is more permanent than tape and maintains its quality over time, whereas tape particles lose their magnetism and lose details. Research is going on to more than double the storage capacity of the current DVD’s by using different laser technologies. The ‘versatility’ referred to in the name means that the equipment incorporates technical standards which means that digital information relating to images - static or moving sounds or text can be stored and retrieved.
DRM. (Meaning 1) Digital Rights Management. This is a major concern for companies and individuals dependent upon traditional copyright legislation to protect their intellectual rights. Within the the world of the web the Napster free downloding company became renowned for breaking these copyright rules in the USA. It was eventually forced to concede by the big record companies. 'Pirate downloading' is still seen as a major problem by many media comapnies. At the time of writing Viacom was taking Google to court with a $1 billion law suit relating to the copyrighted material availble on YouTube which was bought buy Google in 2006. The Wikipedia entry states:
Digital Rights Management (generally abbreviated to DRM) is an umbrella term that refers to any of several technologies used by publishers or copyright owners to control access to and usage of digital data or hardware, and to restrictions associated with a specific instance of a digital work or device. The term is often confused with copy protection and technical protection measures; these two terms refer to technologies that control or restrict the use and access of digital content on electronic devices with such technologies installed, acting as components of a DRM design.
DRM. (Meaning 2) DRM or Digital Radio Mondiale is the world's only, open standard digital radio system for short-wave, AM/medium-wave and long-wave. It has been endorsed by the ITU, IEC and ETSI. DRM is the only universal, open standard digital AM radio system with near-FM quality sound available to markets worldwide. Unlike digital systems that require a new frequency allocation, DRM uses existing AM broadcast frequency bands. The DRM signal is designed to fit in with the existing AM broadcast band plan. Below a Morphy richards DRM Radio.
DVB-H (Digital Video Broadcasting for Handhelds). At 2007 CEBIT Nokia showed off its N92, which is due to launch later this year, which has a DVB-H tuner built in as well as access to an electronic programme guide so you can plan what you watch on your handset.
DVD-Audio. A music format which by having a higher sampling rate than conventional CDs can create more ‘natural sounding’ music.
DVD-HD. This is a new high definition format which Toshiba and its backers including Microsoft launched in 2006. It is one side of a format war with Sony who along with many consumer electronics heavyweights such as Philips and Panasonic have now launched Bluray. This is also supported by many Hollywood Studios.
DVD Recordable. A new breed of domestic machines has now appeared which can record TV or films in DVD format. Whilst currently still very expensive it is probable that they will replace the VCR in most households in 5 years time. They will be able to record digital radio signals as well. There is not currently a standardised format which makes things difficult for consumers.
Digital Video. Often called DV as an abbreviation. The ability to 'capture' moving images without the use of film on a digital storage format. The data can be edited ( post-production) digitally and streamed onto the web or put on a DVD or CD.
Dolby surround sound. This is a digital sound decoding system which provides the surround sound features now standard in cinemas. It is also a feature of domestic audio visual surround-sound systems and can disperse the sound around up to 7 ordinary loudspeakers and a sub-woofer to deal with very deep bass sounds known as a 7.1 system.
Download. The expression for taking things from the Internet and putting them onto your computer either temporarily or permanently.
E-commerce B2C. ( business-to-consumer): IdTV and mobile are likely to be the devices which dominate this sector by volume rather than by commercial value. ( see also T-commerce )
Encryption. This makes it impossible to use media texts without having specialist software able to read the security encryption. This is to reduce software piracy and will enable large companies to retain more effective control over their products. Digitised products can be kept in high security systems and downloaded in encrypted form by cinemas for example. See digital distribution
Entertainment Phones. The world’s largest mobile phone manufacturer is producing a new product clled Ngage. Containing on-board memory cards it will be able to play high speed games. The phone will be expensive and currently the possibilities of multi-player gaming on-line are perceived of as very limited. It requires the development of the youth market who are least able to afford this level of sophistication.
Firewalls. This is security software which stops unwanted e.mails or hackers getting into your computer when it is online. As such it is much more sophisticated than straight-forward anti-virus software. It is becoming increasingly important to have this software installed as the internet grows in size and complexity.
Flash Memory. Flash memory is solid state memory. It exists on cards such as Secure Digital cards commonly used in digital cameras and also as USB Flash Drives It is fast, versatile and more resilient to damage by dropping than conventional hard drives. The technology is advancing quickly and for high small computers which firms like "Samsung envisage as 'Super-Blackberries' it will be the first choice over conventional hard drives. For those wishing to conduct electronic warfare the Swiss Army USB drive knife seems like a perfect solution. Doubtless they will be found on Chanel lipsticks soon!
New memory for 2007 is going to be HHD or Hybrid Hard Drives. Vista the new Microsoft operating system is supporting them and Apple is also in the game. See HDD for more info.
Format Wars. "HD-DVD / Blueray Hybrid."
Free-to-Air. Digitally transmitted TV and radio services which cost the viewer no more than the standard licence fee.
FTTH. Fibre to the home technologies currently being pushed as the next big thing in Japan. This would enable a home to be watching several films in different parts of the house.
Global Positioning System ( GPS ). The ability to find out where you are in the world through special equipment including expensive mobile phones. These link with a satellite to give a precise position. See also Location-based services. Latest gizmo ‘The Hoppy’. Aimed at tourists this device monitors GPS satellites and gives an commentary stored on mini CD using MP3 data compression technology. When triggered by the GPS signals. It can be connected to the car stereo giving information to the driver in real time.
Google. An example of an internet search engine. It became a member of the American stock market in 2004 and first started in 1998. Its founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page were worth an estimated $10 billion each in August 2005.
GPS. See Global Positioning Systems.
HHD. 2007 will see the first Hybrid Hard Drives appear on production models of computers. This is likely to be particularly relevant to the "high end laptop market. However Sandisc has already announced a flash memory card which is claims is superior to HHD (see below). Whatever else the effect on small devices which demand high storage such as HD-video are likely to see these appearing.
Hard-disc recorder. A digital recording machine which records other digital sources on a hard disc similar to the ones found in computers. The advantage over a CD or DVD recorder is that material can be more easily edited before being recorded on another more permanent medium such as a recordable CD. (See also under Broadband).
HD-TV. High definition TVs came on sale in Britain in a big way in 2006 in the run up to the World Cup. whilst the quality is undoubtedly excellent when you see one with a live HD feed there is a problem in the UK of a lack of available programme material in HD. Rumour has it that many people are happily watching their HD TV not realising that the images are not being broadcast in HD. HD-DVDs also became available in 2006 led by Toshiba who have also brought out an HD-DVD Recordable. See also format wars. For a technical break down of the superior definition see "Wikipedia definition".
Hype Cycle. The Hype Cycle, used by Gartner to track the adoption of new technologies, has five distinct phases: “Technology Trigger,” “Peak of Inflated Expectations,” “Trough of Disillusionment,” “Slope of Enlightenment,” and “Plateau of Productivity.” "Link to debate between Gartner and Second Life reported by Reuters Jan 04 / 07 ."
Hypertext. The new aesthetic of the digital era. Originally perceived as the ability to move around a text through links making a medium non-linear and allowing a viewer to make some narrative decisions interactively. Dan Fleming (2000) suggests that there will be hyperlinking across media forms to produce metaforms.
IdTV. Interactive digital television. Currently at a simple level of development. Press red button to vote yes/no on an issue on the programme, or to get a brochure if it is an advert. 32 million households in Europe were expected to have this by end of 2003. This is likely to develop into a way of buying which means that media companies will gain transaction fees as well as advertising. In 2003 interactive games were the most successful market development in interactive TV. The rapid growth of the internet as an important vehicle for buying goods and services may well have made this technology semi-redundant since the time of writing and up-to-date sales figures havn't been seen. Certainly along with mainstream TV this seems to be a technological dinosaur.
Immersive environments. see Virtual Reality
Information filters. Media products which review various media outputs and industrial activities to synthesize and perhaps analyse these products and processes. These are necessary to cope with information overload.
Information gateways. A service, programme etc which provides access to media filtering and media metaforms.
Information inequality. Sometimes described as the ‘Digital Divide’. This expresses the concern that society will become polarised between the ‘digital haves’ and ‘have-nots’ forming another division in society. The lack of availability of information or else low quality information will directly impact upon citizenship.
Information Society. Many sociologists and media commentators are now suggesting that advanced western societies are increasingly becoming societies based upon the use of digitally stored information or data. This is increasingly affecting all our social cultural and scientific systems. Leadeing commentators on this such as Manual Castells have changed their ideas to calling contemporary society the Networked Society.
Interactive. This is an essential term to understand. Digital technologies are provide a wide range of interactivity which allow audiences to interact with the media product such as a TV show requiring some input or the ability to access certain stories stored on news programmes. Audiences can also provide feedback to media institutions large or small about their needs desires and criticisms of a media text in real time. This means that the man of the difficulties of creating and retaining an audience can be facilitated through these interactive monitoring systems. With mobile phone systems location based services can be accessed and information sent received such as booking a hotel or finding out what is on.
Interactive TV. The ability to feedback information into the TV system. This requires digital technology. Typically the flow of information from the receiver
Interface. Interfacing is the way in which people use technologies. A mouse or keyboard is the way we usually interface with computers. For games machines and consoles a range of joysticks were developed. The latest ways of interfacing are through digital imaging where a digital camera can image a subject and store this in the machine in ways that link to icons on the screen. The person can trigger these icons remotely via the camera link. This is the next technological step towards a more immersive environment. Both gamers and various sorts of artists such as dancers are beginning to exploit this technology which will become increasingly common. For one of the leading places to investigate human computer interfacing check out the MIT Media Lab. Wacky stuff including intelligent clothing.
Internet history of: See BBC History of the Internet
Internet Search Engine. To navigate the internet effectively it became necessary to invent new software to make a rapid search of the millions of domain names which mushroomed on after the start of the World Wide Web in the mid 1990s. These include search engines such as Yahoo and MSN. The most successful to date is Google. The way in which the companies who run these make money is by selling advertising space. See Paid for search.
iPhone. January 2007 CES saw the awaited launch of Apple's iPhone. This is a fine example of convergent technology in which a phone is able to download both music and video. The screen is a widescreen. The phone is also controlled via a touch screen rather than conventional buttons. Steve Jobs is claiming to have reinvented the phone. Some find Apple less than tempting however...
The Financial Times editorial comment found time to poke fun at iPhone at the weekend (Jan 13th 2007).
iPod. An MP3 style music player which has been produced by Apple and has rapidly become a design icon much as the Sony Walkman did in the 1980s. At the time of writing (Aug 2005) Nokia the mobile phone company has planned a phone camera which will also be able to store s much music as a mini-iPod which it considers will rapidly outsell iPods. These phones are now comonplace but iPod is still ahead of the game. See also iTunes / podcasting.
Below iPod Nanos:
IPTV. IPTV is the current holy grail for the giants of the new media industries which is "delivery of video content via the net". Ideally this should be accessible in all rooms being streamed from a computer. Various industry linkups are being made between Microsoft and BT for example. Apple too is very interested. Another company on the scene is Sony who wish to use their long awaited Play-Station 3 to provide Blueray streaming to well Sony TVs of course1.
ISDN. This is a high-speed data-link for computer communications. In Britain BT kept the price too high and people used conventional modems. It runs at 128 Kilobits per second twice as fast as an ordinary modem and it is possible to use the phone at the same time. It is now being superseded by ASDL and broadband technologies. At time of writing in 2007 it is now dead in the water as Broadband has taken off.
LAN. This is a local area network in which two or more computers are connected together. In the past this has been done by installing special cards and cables to connect to computers together physically. This is likely to change very soon with the commercialisation of Wi-Fi.
Linear editing. Video-recorders are examples of this technology. Unable to immediately access any of the date unlike data on a hard drive. This kind of editing is very slow and there is a loss of quality involved. To reproduce the text on the internet, via digital satellite or on DVDs the text must be digitally re-mastered. See also non-linear editing.
Local area Network. See under LAN and Wi-Fi
Location-based Services. The ability to be able to locate a person’s mobile phone handset, by working out which cell it is nearest to. Information can be passed to the emergency services for example. The new mobile network ‘3’ uses GPS to provide more accurate positioning. This information can be updated as a person moves.
Long Tail The. At its heart the idea of the long tail is straightforward. Online distirutors are able to carry much larger stocks or else can order instantly from small suppliers who are prepared to keep their publications / music available for enthusiasts. It is now much easier for consumers to access these products instead of being limited to what any particualr high street shop chooses to carry on its shelves.
Below representation of the long tail in the media through an analysis of Rhapsody an online store.
Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game. MMRPG’s for short. They are pervasive ( diffusing ) virtual environments populated by human-controlled digital people from around the globe. Players develop characters, work towards goals, solve puzzles. They are the visual marriage of text-based adventures and chat rooms. They are proving particularly attractive to women. Below image from the popular World of Warcraft.
Media ‘metaforms'. This is (1) the growth of television programmes, print media, websites devoted to other media. Some consider these programmes as just a case of self-absorption and a loss of contact from ‘the real’ ( wars, disasters, politics and policy etc.) Others argue that this is a sign of a growing need for data to make sense of other data leading to new relationships between audience and ‘text’. The metaforms which comprised the ‘Blairwitch Project’ can be seen as an example of an aesthetic life of its own being created which is not secondary to an original product. There was a movie, book and websites which became ‘official’ and ‘unofficial’ all of which were self-referential but also blurred the distinctions between ‘fact’ and ‘fiction’.. See also hypertext. See metadata gateways. (2) Growth of cross-media marketing strategies see total marketing.
Metadata gateways. These are currently being developed perhaps most successfully on the web and are likely to transfer to other media forms with the increasing convergence of technologies.
Metaforms. See media metaforms.
Midband. This offers 128 kilobits per second internet connection which is three times faster than a standard connection. Calls can be made simultaneously but will halve the net connection speed. This speed is still only 25% of an ASDL connection. The system is likely to appeal to those in rural locations without access to cable or ASDL. This is rapidly being made redundant.
Mini-disc. A rewritable digital recording system which can comfortably work when mobile. It records at half the data rate of conventional CDs and therefore quality is compromised. The rapid rise of MP3 and iPods is rapidly making this redunant technology.
MPEG. A data compression system which allows the recording and transmission of images using relatively small amounts of memory.
MMRPG. See Massively Multiplayer Online role Playing Game.
MP3. A digital compression system for transmitting music over the internet with short download times. The rate of sampling is only about half as much as on conventional CDs therefore quality is compromised. It is claimed that psychoacoustically people effectively notice little or no difference.
Narrowband. This is a standard internet connection via a dial-up modem. Maximum speed of these is 56 Kilobits of data per second. In reality depending upon line conditions these modems connect at about 40 kilobits per second. This is fine for basic e.mail and text-based websites. Audio, video and software downloads require broadband connections. A disadvantage of narrowband is that the phone cannot be used at the same time.
Non-linear editing. This is using hard discs on computers or now dedicated hard-disc digital recorders to edit sound and images. It is non-linear because any part of the information can be easily accessed unlike videotape which has to be dealt with on liner editing suites. This form of editing is especially useful for Digital Video enabling small-scale film makers to create and place their products on the internet fast and cheaply. See also linear editing.
February 04, 2007
Web Designing for Disability Accessibility
Introduction to Designing Web Sites for Accessibility with Dreamweaver
When approaching the design for a website one of the most common errors is considering the issue of accessibility right at the end of the process. Making revisions can be very time consuming and if you are in a commercial setting it can be a very costly process.
In reality designing for disability access should only be an extension of good design parameters in any case. Filling a site with stunning graphics tends to ignore the fundamental issues of usability and ease of navigation. Remember you are creating a communication tool not an artwork in itself. Matt hogwood of Sapient UK a web design company summarises the situation very effectively:
What is 'good' web design?
The best designers are those who test their work and who are receptive to changing the design based on what they see users doing. Some designers focus on pizzazz only. they will get away with this until customers complain or stop visiting the site. (Kara Coyne, Research Director Nielsen Norman Group, cited Dreamweaver the Essential Manual p 40)).
Using the Dreamweaver Accessibility Features
Dreamweaver already has built in a range of features to ensure accessibility. To find out how to switch these on go to the Macromedia site at http://tinyurl.com/67378. alternatively when you open Dreamweaver open the Edit drop down menu. Then select Preferences and then select Accessibility. Tick all the boxes and then tick OK. This will activate the accessibility help system.
Once you have switched these on you will be given prompts as you design to add elements such as Alt tags to ensure that reading devices for visually impaired people work effectively.
A good example of a site which has taken accessibility very seriously is Tesco's. Julie
Howell the policy officer at the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) has commented:
Work by Tesco.com to make its home grocery service more accessible to blind customers resulted in revenue in excess of £13 million per annum... (Cited Dreamweaver the Essential Manual p 38).
Useful Websites and Articles
The RNIB free rescource centre for Web design
Out-law.com This site is from an international law firm who specialise in ensuring that a site is compliant with UK laws.
A useful site with design tips is Accessibility 101
February 03, 2007
Web 2.0 to the fore: The Davos Web 2.0 Webcast
Web 2.0 to the fore
Well I didn't know it at the time but my selling of Web 2.0 to parents and prospective media students was bang on target for 2007. It has been obvious for some months that MySpace and YouTube are the public face of significant changes in the way that the internet and ultimately the future models of the media industry for some time will start to work. The fact that there was a special section of the Davos economic forum devoted to Web 2.0 is highly significant. The webcast which can also be downloaded as a Realplayer file has some very interesting comments not least from Bill Gates.
Second Life Intervention
Before you click onto the Davos webcast I thought I'd just draw your attention to some serious social protest from the virtual world with a link to the real world as reported by Adam Reuters:
Pictured below: luemmel Lemmon of the WEF protest group DaDavos. (The group has a beautifully designed logo, which is displayed on his placard and can also be seen on the website.) Luemmel is talking to a guy whose name I missed, but who is perfectly dressed to fit in here among the suits.
The Davos Webcast page on Web 2.0. There are several language version here. This is a copy of the line up:
The rapid rise of online social networks is both a social and business phenomenon, the impact of which is only beginning to be understood. The consumer-powered Web 2.0 creates innovative ways for businesses to operate and people to communicate.
- What is driving the emergence of virtual communities? Is the rapid rise in their valuations justified?
- How are companies beginning to use social networking strategies for product and market development, as well as for communication?
- Caterina Fake, Founder, Flickr, USA
- William H. Gates III, Chairman, Microsoft Corporation, USA
- Chad Hurley, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, YouTube, USA
- Mark G. Parker, President and Chief Executive Officer, Nike, USA
- Viviane Reding, Commissioner, Information Society and Media, European Commission, Brussels
- Dennis Kneale, Managing Editor, Forbes Magazine, USA
Viacom Versus YouTube
Relatively Old Media versus New Media: Viacom versus YouTube
Well one of the most interesting New Media stories to break at the beginning of February is the spat developing between Viacom who control MTV and Google's recently bought YouTube. Its fornt page stuff for the Weekend Financial Times (non-virtual) and it also appears in their important Lex column and it's an important story for the BBC online business / technology columns.
Viacom too greedy for its own good?
Its interesting because it raises the question of whether Viacom in the longer term is shooting itself in the foot. Viacom has demanded that YouTube remove approximately 100,000 videos which contain some of its copyrighted material from MTV videos and other easy to use clips. this is likely to intensely irritate an exponentially increasing youth community who have already rocked the mainstream music industry to the core. The youth market is primarily who music videos aim at and those are the same people who are increasingly turning to user generated content, perhaps in a post-modern style of hybridised mish-mash of images which partially use 'found objects' such as bits of music video.
The fact of the matter is that the dramtically falling prices of technology and the rapidly growing base of people who can use these technologies represents the youth 'barbarians' battering at the gates of civilisation as Viacom shareholders know it.
The attitude which Viacom are taking is merely likely to help create a sort of repetition of Punk where the behmoths and dinosaurs of mid-seventies rock spending onanistic months producing some 'concept' album or another. The young don't mind it raw and 'in yer face' the key thing about the content is that it needs to be up to date and dynamic. The era of 'high added value' otherwise known as ripping off the consumer is rqapidly coming to an end in the pop/rock video era.
Warners see the light
Well if I was a pension fund manager or similar I would be reconsidering any long-term holdings in Viacom. Previously they were gatekeepers just as EMI was, now look at the latter. Whilst the Lex column a little pompously notes that:
Among the ragbag of user-generated content uploaded to YouTube, many of the more popular video clips are from mainstream content providers. Those media groups understandably want to be paid. (Lex 03 / 02 / 07)
Lex then notes that Warner Music, for example quickly came to a deal by arranging revenue sharing with YouTube for advertising that appeared alongside its content. Lex notes that Viacom's MTV and comedy Central both have content which is easily cut and pasteable by choosing highlights. Viacom didn't get offered the deal it wanted and has 'turned up the heat'.
Lex notes that Viacom probably doesn't want a head to head with Google which is now exceedingly wealthy and any lawsuit is inherently unstable. Lex might have added that Google appear to be more in tune with the spirit of youth which is pervading the social networking sites. The reality is that market fragmentation means that there will be more people producing content and getting paid less. For the forseeable future it probably means that trends will come and go more quickly.
The BBC story on this quotes Google as saying:
But it added that it was "unfortunate" that Viacom would no longer be able to "benefit from YouTube's passionate audience which had helped promote many of Viacom's shows".
This is rather in accord with my point and could be interpreted as a velvet glove covering the digital fist.Viacom would be better off taking a sensible deal rather than risk having its acts being sidelined.
These are the sort of fascinating case studies which my AS media students have to look at. (For anybody who doubts for a moment the importance of web 2.0 and social networking look at this years Davos lineup). Usually there is a question along the lines of 'Do media companies always welcome New Technologies'. Well the answer is that buying up the owners of the technology if it looks as if there is a potential market is a good idea otherwise you risk being sidelined. Google has entered the fray of the media world making the transition from being primarily a very effective search engine into a global player. Viacom appears to be doing a Waltz whilst Google is break-dancing. In the long term they may be heading for a fall. If I had the money I'd be buying Google shares not Viacom ones!
Postscript: for more on the Google buy up of YouTube
Postscript 2: Interview with Chad Hurley who was a founder of YouTube at the Davos World Economic Forum. Viacom shareholders please take special note :-). Here is another interview with Chad Hurley in relation to copyrighting concerns.
January 13, 2007
New Media Glossary Continued: O–Z
Follow-up to Glossary for New Media Technologies: A–N from Kinoeye
Online advertising. See separate entry.
Paid for Search. Internet search engines have rapidly become one of the most successful and effective ways in which new media has been able to act as a vehicle for advertisers. The main way that the search engines make money is by selling links to the advertisers websites which are displayed alongside the research results. Almost everybody who uses the internet (the number increases dramatically every year) needs to use a search engine. This means that there is effectively a captive market exposed to advertising. This is compared with other ingenious systems such as pop-up advertising which can be filtered out by the use of firewall software.
Podcasting. Podcasting is rapidly becoming the new buzz thing at the time of writing. Podcasting allows anybody with digital audio recording technology to download programmes onto a computer and from there onto the internet. These podcasts can be downloaded onto iPods / MP3 players and represent a new way of finding audiences particularly for smaller organisations, however now there has been some success companies such as the BBC are looking at the potential. It has become an important part of Web 2.0. Watch this space!! Below the recent launch of the rode Podcaster microphone with USB connection and input for headphones has set the agenda for 2007. Expect to see more versions of this appear in 2007 from competitors.
PSP or Playstation Portable. Launched in the UK on September 1st 2005. It is billed as the new ‘must have’ gadget which some are suggesting that will finally see the much vaunted term convergence start to happen.
Rewritable digital media. The ability to record use and then record something else over the top as with the old analogue cassette and video-cassettes for example. Digital audio-cassettes followed by mini-discs were the first of these onto the domestic and semi-professional market-place and were expensive. The market driven by the PC means that most computers now come with rewritable-CD for backing-up information. It is now becoming increasingly common to get rewritable-DVD both as stand-alone machines and built into computers. These are likely to replace the domestic video-recorder in the next few years.
RSS. RSS stands for ‘Really Simple Syndication’. RSS feeds are just a special kind of web page, designed to be read by computers rather than people. It might help to think of them as the free, internet version of the old-fashioned ticker-tape news wire machines. Not all websites currently provide RSS, but it is growing rapidly in popularity and many others, including the BBC, Guardian, New York Times and CNN provide it. Below is the icon for an RSS feed. Here is part of the Wikipedia definition. Users of RSS content use programs called feed ‘readers’ or ‘aggregators’: the user ‘subscribes’ to a feed by supplying to their reader a link to the feed; the reader can then check the user’s subscribed feeds to see if any of those feeds have new content since the last time it checked, and if so, retrieve that content and present it to the user.
Second Life. Virtual worlds are becoming a big thing. They are working on different models of development. The World of Warcraft is dungeons and dragons for the web however Second Life is a far more creative and dynamic model which is generating real interest in the world of business as well as individual adventurers. To get a better feel of what Second Life is about please use the tag in this blog’s side-bar which will give you a lot of pages which have relevant links. Please also see the entry which is summarising the Net interview with Philip Rosedale the founder of Second Life. Certainly some are beginning to see Second Life as the new ‘killer’ application for the broaqdband era for it is the availability of cheap broadband that is a core technology in allowing the model to operate. Broadband is to Second Life what roads are to a city.Potentially Second Life could become a huge business. Below see their recruitment poster:
Set-top box. See digital set-top box
Sling-box. Launched in 2006 this technology enables people to access their TV systems via a broadband connection and thier home computer enabling them to watch local live TV from anywhere in the world. House owners can access their security cameras and at least one owner discovered people breaking into his home when he was on holiday and he was able to alert the police!
Social Networking. Here is a recent BBC definition Websites such as MySpace give users a chunk of webspace they can personalise with images, video and blog entries.To this they add a messaging system that lets members keep in touch with friends on the same network. In the past few years these sites have become hugely popular among young people and some, such as MySpace, are by some measures challenging Yahoo and Google for the title of most popular site on the net. The link also reports on the popularity amongst US teenagers.
Solid State Digital Recorders. The growth of podcasting has brought a much market to the relatively unknown solid state digital recording market. For podcasters, musicians and radio reporters these devices make recording live much easier and more reliable than DAT (Digital Audio Tape) and the Minidisc. It is expected that these older technologies will quickly die out.
Splog. This word is a combination of spam and blog. A splog exists in order to get ad impresssions or provide links to other sites. “Usually these sites contain giiberish or an unruly combination of content stolen from other sites.” (Grapone & Couzin. Search Engine Optimisation, 2nd Ed, 2008)Tagging. This is becoming an increasingly common way of navigating around sites. This entry has a range of tags at the bottom and you probably got her by using the tag for glossaries in the sidebar. This BBC technology story gives you more details. Below is a quote from Mr Weinberger from this story:
“Tagging allows social groups to form around similarities of interests and points of view. If you’re using the same tags as I do, we probably share some deep commonalities,” he told Pew Internet.
This story also debates the advantages and disadvantages of tagging as an important way of logging data effectively so that it can be easily searched for.
T-commerce. The growing marketplace for commercial transactions via the idTV. Lottery tickets, games, sports-betting, pay-per-view, travel tickets and more. Will require new forms of micro-payments as the subscriber may not be the person doing the buying.
Third Generation / 3G. Third generation mobile phones enabling customers to view video-footage. The mobile phone will then become a multi-media device. First company in the UK to deliver the service will be 3. Date of launch currently unknown likely to be early March 2003. Owned by Hutchinson a Hong-Kong based conglomerate which launched Orange. What the multi-media content is the key to success. Currently 100 content providers have signed deals with 3 including the FA Premier League and news companies ITN and Reuters. The video footage will not be real-time because of technological constraints.
THX. Sound system for surround-sound cinema and home cinema systems licensed by Lucas Laboratories. There are very exacting specifications of sound reproduction required before a licence is granted.
Total marketing. The elaboration of metaforms for the sake of greater profits. First seen in children’s popular culture with toy lines being developed into TV programmes or the other way around. Later developed into the usual sort of ‘spin-offs’.
USB. Universal Serial Bus. The development of the USB port for computers meant that PCs finally caught up with Macs as items such as printers, cameras and cameras could ‘plug and play’. in other words just be connected to a USB port. Now microphones, audio interfaces and special headphones are coming out with USB connections to feed the voracious Web 2.0 user generated content market.
User Generated Content. Old media and new media are interacting. Users are able to and frequently do send news companies instant news via texts, camera phones etc. The issue becomes how to rank these stories.
Here is a Reuters story on ‘User Generated Content’ from Jan 03 / 07 .
Viral Advertising / viral marketing. An extract from the Wikipedia entry. Viral marketing and viral advertising refer to marketing techniques that use pre-existing social networks to produce increases in brand awareness, through self-replicating viral processes, analogous to the spread of pathological and computer viruses. It can often be word-of-mouth delivered and enhanced online; it can harness the network effect of the Internet and can be very useful in reaching a large number of people rapidly. Here’s what Alex West who Alex West, who launched the first-ever Viral Awards says:
What agencies are saying now is you need to buy consumers’ time, and to do that you need to entertain them and give them something back.
Certainly this new advertising method is set to change the way advertising works. See Channel 4 article here.
Virtual Reality or VR. The search for fully immersive computer generated environments which could be interactive games, or ‘game narratives’. See also the fascinating development under Second Life which is going beyond any of these.
Voice over Internet Protocol. This is a service introduced by British Telecom /BT in January 2004. It enables users to use broadband connections to make phone calls to phones from computers and the other way around. This is an advance over previous systems in which users have only been able to make Internet phone calls between computers. In May 2004 a less sophisticated version of the system will be sold to the mass market domestic consumer. BT hope this will help persuade more consumers to upgrade to broadband systems. At time of writing Google have just announced a new internet based telephone service which is likely to be highly successful.
Vlog a video based blog. see vodcasting below for a good link. Also see blogs for more on Web 2.0 publishing.
VODcasting. This is podcasting but based upon the idea of Video on Demand hence the VOD. This article from Missouri University provides a useful explanation in full.
VoIP. see Voice over Internet Protocol
VR. See Virtual Reality and entry on Second Life
Weblogs. See Blogs.
Selling the One Laptop Per Child
Follow-up to One Laptop Per Child from Kinoeye
BBC News update on the Negroponte One Lap-top per Child initiative at the CES technology exhibition.
January 03, 2007
One Laptop Per Child
My BBC new technologies feed has just alerted me to the promising progress of this project which could dramatically change the lives of people in the underdeveloped countries. This is the One Laptop per Child Project directed by digital guru Nicholas Negroponte.
We had some great debates about this project last year in AS Media Studies New Media Technologies project on our forum. At least one student was very sceptical suggesting that perhaps water projects would be more useful.
Basic needs is a hard one to argue against yet the world can easily afford both. Stop supplying arms to tinpot dictators. Make sure foreign aid is for the benefit of the recipient countries rather than a grand capital project which largely benefits the large corporation which builds it. Appropriate technology is the expression you are after. International governmental will could allow clean drinking water for all global citizens.
Needing New Technology
This shouldn’t detract from Negroponte’s project. The quickest way to get the whole world wired up and letting people in Africa and Bengal or the Favela of Brazil gain the benefit of free knowledge from the likes of Wikipedia could move the world on from the ludicrous polarisations underpinned by Texan oil companies and their favourites inthe White House. you can’t argue against cheap laptops for all. Perhaps the Bill gates foundation could throw some money at it as well.
EMail the Bill Gates Foundation
This gives you information about the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s global development programme.
Wing them an e.mail and ask them to send a few thousand of these wind up computers out to Africa and be a good blogocitizen.
Web 2: Cultural Diversity, Adverts & The Long Tail
Currently there seems to be a debate going on about making money through blogs and websites for small organisations.
Media Studies students will recognise very general issues which occur whatever the kind of media you are using. This post suggests that many people think that it is possible for a small scale blog which is targetting a very niche audience is going to make some money through services such as Adsense which are offered by Google. (The post is from Anderson’s diary about his concept of the Long Tail).The following quotation has been taken from another blog which is bemoaning the fact that the tiny amount of money generated from her site falls below the minimum amount that Google is prepared to administer:
I’m beginning to have my doubts about Chris Anderson’s long tail, the proposition that cultural boutiques can make a living from audiences on the Internet. One disgruntled publisher complains she’s owed less than the minimum Google can be bothered to pay her. And, as fast as she makes money, Google lifts the threshold. [She writes:] “When I started with Adsense in late 2004/ early 2005 the minimum was $25. Just when was about to hit the $25 minimum, they raised it to $50. Now that I have $45 in my account, the minimum is $100. Granted, I have a site with very low traffic, but how many website owners are getting screwed by Google? If the long-tail theory holds out, there could be millions of dollars of unpaid Google ads. (My emphasis).
I must say I don’t have much sympathy. Of course Google had a low starting point they were trying to encourage creativity which would ultimately generate successful people and Google a fair bit of money. I believe Adsense pays about a dollar a time if somebody clicks an advert on your blog. If you are expecting to magically make money from a tiny niche market you will be disappointed. People can still get a free blog from Google and Google Analytics provides an extremly sophisticated service which many commercial concerns can use to improve marketing or to try and make pages more popular. All these services cost money yet they are free.
I use Google Analytics on this blog. I’m interested in who is attracted to this blog and what it is that attracts them. For example I had 16 hits the other week from Chellaston in Derbyshire. I have also had hits from cities in Chile and in Australia as well as from China, Vietnam and Taiwan and a lot from the USA. I’m both surprised and pleased because much of this blog is targeted to quite tight audiences.
What is Google Analytics?
On November 13, 2005, Google announced Google Analytics, a free Web analytics service targeted at the long tail of small and medium-size businesses that lack a Web analytics solution. While “free” is a powerful word, the Urchin product on which Google Analytics is built is less than a Web analytics powerhouse. The offering will succeed at the lower end of the market, but won’t completely ruin the party for high-end vendors.
The above analysis comes from a business technology company Forrester Research who describe themselves as:
Forrester Research (Nasdaq: FORR) is an independent technology and market research company that provides pragmatic and forward-thinking advice about technology’s impact on business and consumers.
Their analysis of Google Analytics in full will cost you $50-00 if you are silly enough. They may wish to eat these rather expensive words by the look of the client base Google seems to be gaining. (Anyway no links to rip off artists like that!).
The point about Google analytics is that anybody is allowed to use to help them get some income from their site. As that isn’t this sites primary aim then I can use the tools for other purposes such as seeing whether my students are accessing the site. Criticise Google for giving us all a version of big brother if you like but they want you to make money and they seem to be doing all they can to encourage this by letting you study the audience you do have.
Creativity and Diversity
Of course I am interested in the possibilities of individuals or small companies making a living from working in this way! As far as I’m concerned blogs are a fascinating form of media. If people can make them interesting enough then an audience will appear. Audiences are fickle at the best of times as Ien Ang’s classic media book Desparately Seeking the Audience shows. (Please note the publisher is remaining nameless. I could put a link through and if they pay me I will, otherwise you will have to find it yourself. In other words there are lots of opportunities to offer a service to interested parties).
There is no reason why the web should be any different to any other sort of media in this respect. Cheapness of access is nevertheless democratising. Finally we might get to the point where audience and content interact to provide a genuinely new media paradigm.
Being able to publish in a range of different forms when you are ready to is genuinely liberating. Previously media companies were having to programme full schedules now the: what you want, when you want it how you want it culture that new media is developing means that good quality programmes, sites, etc. can be made available for years if need be.
Audiences will eventually decide whether these are worth bothering with. If nobody recommends them then they will die a natural death or adapt. (bit of cyber-Darwinian theory :-). But the woman who is complaining has been given free publishing opportunities, unheard of in the past. Given that it costs Google something to run I don’t think there are reasonable grounds for complaint. Let’s face the now $100.00 payout is miniscule for an advanced Western country. If you want money find an audience or else be happy that you can egoistically be speaking to a few afficionados worldwide.
However, an alternative is that if you are a small-time publisher who is unlikely to ever get those few dollars from Google, why not all club togther and donate to the one lap top per child project. For $100.00 or around £60-00 you can get a child in an underdeveloped country a good computer. Indirectly this is increasing your market so do the world a favour and get that money out of Google’s accounts if it bothers you.
Thanks to Google for allowing lots of people to play with these new technologies and affording some the opportunity to create new cultural voices for nothing. If you are publishing poetry you usually pay the printer for the priviledge, and you feel proud if you get your money back. Most poetry publishers do it because they feel a creative urge often it will only be read by people with similar interests and that’s fine.
In the world of Jazz Derek Bailey and Evan Parker both excellent and highly experimental musicians were making music more for other musicians than for a wider public. Miles Davis made a good living and was popular and so does Jan Garbarek, on the whole their music is less experimental. Often not to many people’s tastes but to enough to enable them to go on making their style of music.
Whatever kind of media you are working in you can either make your art / service with a wider audience in mind or you can target a very narrow audience. At the end of the day it is the audience which drives cultural diversity, not advertising, nor the artist. Without audiences cultural creators are nothing. If people are so egoistic that they only want to make a cultural creation for their own benefit that’s fine, just don’t whinge when you don’t make money from it.
This doesn’t detract from the original argument put forward by Chris Anderson in Wired Magazine:
In the tyranny of physical space, an audience too thinly spread is the same as no audience at all.
On the above link you can find his original concept of The Long Tail.
Is Diversity Necessarily Good Quality?
A point worth making about the issue of cultural diversity is that just being diverse doesn’t necessarily equate to being good in terms of the quality of what is produced. What it does mean from the perspective of cultural citizenship is that many people are finding a voice in ways that were previously impossible. Hopefully the better ones will be able to make a living
without compromising their ideas for the sake of commercialism. Sometimes all people want to do is to communicate thier ideas, and there has never been a better opportunity than now.
The advantage of web publishing as we move inexorably towards a networked society creating what I prefer to think of as a global city it affords opportunities for many. The metaphor of city is more appropriate than Marshall McLuhan’s “Global Village”. The physical city of Modernity liberated people from the claustrophobic control of the Local landowner and the Church. It is getting increasingly hard to disagree with Anderson’s argument that the networked society is freeing many from the ‘tyranny of physical space’ which was previously the prerogative of government or powerful media tycoons.
It appears as though Web 2 is finally begining to deliver on the original promise of the internet. There will always be crass commercialism and so-called ‘celebrity’ culture with sad people talking about ‘Celebrity Big Brother’ the home of has-beens and cheap publicity seekers. encouragingly vast new cultural spaces are beginning to open in a genuinely “popular way”. When I say popular I mean generated and growing from people’s own ideas rather than people being spoonfed with crass programmes like Big Brother keeping the ex public schoolboy ‘inventor’ happy in his mansion in Hampstead.
The Long Tail Market
So what then is this ‘long-tail market’ that people are doubting. Here is Anderson’s summary contained on his Long Tail diary
In Long Tail markets, hits lose their monopoly on culture as they share the stage with million of niche products. Minority taste rules.There are three basic types of participants in Long Tail markets: consumers, aggregators and producers (note that it’s possible to be all three; these aren’t mutually incompatible). The main effects on each are: * Consumers. Effect: Largely cultural. People have more choice, so individual taste increasingly satisfied even if the effect is an increasingly fragmented culture. * Aggregators. Effect: Largely economic. It’s never been easier to assemble vast variety and create tools for organizing it, from search to recommendations. Increased variety plus increased demand for variety equals opportunity. Also note that just as one size doesn’t fit all for products, nor does it for aggregators. I think the winner-take-all examples of eBay, Amazon, iTunes and Google are a first-inning phenomena. Specialized niche aggregators (think: vertical search, such as the real estate service Zillow) are on the rise. * Producers. Effect: Largely non-economic. I responded to a good Nick Carr post on this last year with the following: “For producers, Long Tail benefits are not primarily about direct revenues. Sure, Google Adsense on the average blog will generate risible returns, and the average band on MySpace probably won’t sell enough CDs to pay back their recording costs, much less quit their day jobs. But the ability to unitize such microcelebrity can be significant elsewhere. A blog is a great personal branding vehicle, leading to anything from job offers to consulting gigs. And most band’s MySpace pages are intended to bring fans to live shows, which are the market most bands care most about. When you look at the non-monetary economy of reputation, the Long Tail looks a lot more inviting for its inhabitants.
Well this blog seems to be largely agreeing with my audience analysis above and interestingly makes a lot of the the notion of a blended world of culture with material life interacting with virtual a core value. It is audiences that make the culture in the final analysis!
December 20, 2006
Audio Editing Software
Follow-up to Podcasting. Equipment and Associated Advice from Kinoeye
Audio Editing Software
Of course one of the big advantages for recording in the digital domain is that you can edit your work on screen. Initially the editing functions that you are most likely to want are very straightforward.
They may be little gaps in the recording, perhaps a cough. Maybe you discovered you moved away from the microphone and the original sound was uneven. All these little things can be put right.
The best place to start with all this is probably a freeware programme called Audacity. It is a small programme and can easily be downloded onto your computer. You will also need another small programme called Lame. Both can be downloaded via this online overview of freeware and software for sound editing from Sound on Sound Magazine.
I suggest you make this programme your first port of call.
There are commercial programmes out there from the likes of Adobe and Sony and also very sophisticated music software. At least Audacity is free and will give you more of an idea of what you need.
As I’m not very good with all these tides of technology a kind visitor has pointed out that the Liux open source software operating system has gained the support of independent Audio software developers. The programme is called Jokosher and can be viewed here. As it allows for multitracking it looks like a good option for those developing their skills.