Solo Article Review

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    For my article review I chose Trust and Mistrust of Online Health Sites by Elizabeth Sillence, Pam Briggs and Lesley Fishwick.

    Summary of the Article

    This article discusses what criteria people use to determine how trustworthy a medical information website is, these include design and available information. The analysis took the form of both structured and unstructured sessions with each session being followed by a group discussion of each participants user experience.

    Article overview and review

    The primary argument brought forward by this article is how personal criteria effect how much trust was placed in the information being provided by the website in question. All the participants were researching the same medical condition, this allowed for a single area of study.

    The first critique that must be made about this article is that it is extremely gender bias given that it was written by three females and those involved in the experiment were all middle aged women. There is nothing wrong with this article being written by an all-female team, nor is there anything wrong with only including female subjects. However throughout the article there are generalised statements made that seem to be intended to speak for everyone regardless of their gender or their level of experience with computers or online research. Given that this article is concerned with a purely female medical condition there should have been some mention of this within the title or at least within the findings.

    The test group used represents a very small sample of people, and as mentioned before represents only females. In order for some of the statements in this article to be true the authors assume that all people have the same criteria when judging the trustworthiness of a website, they make no mention of the fact that the typical middle aged woman would have very limited expertise when it came to web design or the online environment in general. To assume that this small sample of women would make the same decisions as the majority seems to be a glaring misstep. Had they titled the article something different that mentioned their sample group and the health matters mentioned within this would not be such a problem, however they did not and the language within the article does tend to lean towards generalisations.

    One of the more questionable criteria used in the study was the participants “Sense of social Identity”, given that the information being reviewed was medical in nature social trends and social identity do not seem like fitting criteria to be used when determining how accurate medical advice is.

    However despite those questionable choices the primary argument of design effecting trustworthiness is supported by many of the articles referenced within this article, in fact most of the articles referenced support the theory that a poorly designed website is less trustworthy than a website that is presented in a professional manner regardless of the information being supplied.

    The manner in which this study was conducted is also supported through the references made, having two structured sessions and two unstructured sessions allowed for enough personal choice and enough guided research to ensure that all the participants had a similar experience.


    Although there are numerous questionable statements and conclusions drawn within the article they seem to stem from the sample group and their approach to the subject rather than those conducting the research and writing the article. From a theoretical approach the study is conducted in a professional manner and this at least is represented in the article and those articles being referenced within the article.



    Reflective Review of Module CS3107
    Steve Moffatt (95005269)


    When I read our course content for the year, two phrases sent a shiver down my spine: “social media” and “group work”. While the concepts outlined in the course content were of great interest to me- ìn particular, the future of the internet for a standard user (and the question of whether such a user exists), the level to which users want to/ will have to engage with shaping the future of the internet, and the distinction between free and open content (and the attendant intellectual rights implications suggested by that distinction)- all suggested that the base content of the course would be of great interest.

    However, as someone who has purposely moved away from social media sites due to concerns around privacy and the practices of user behaviour modelling utilised by such sites, I felt some reluctance to the thought of having to engage once more with Facebook and Twitter, but knew that it would be essential to engage to some extent in order to complete the course successfully.

    The use of Online forums

    I began the course with a decision: as per the notes on the course introductory page, I needed to decide the level of engagement with which I was comfortable. I quickly ruled out re-joining Facebook, as it was sufficiently arduous to fully leave the site the first time! I quickly settled on setting up a Twitter account for the first time, and followed all of my classmates and the course instructor. I found some articles on tech from around the web (specifically, in the main via, or These I tagged with our class hashtag, #tcdcs3107, and watched with interest as my classmates did the same.

    However, it quickly became clear that the main engagement for the class migrated organically toward the online forums. My own involvement in the forums was very much dependent on my level of interest with the topic at hand at the time. For example, for the free vs open discussion, I got involved because it’s a subject in which I have an interest, and the same with the discussion on user engagement with innovation in an open world.

    Relating the Experience to Course Content

    I would most closely relate my experience with the course to the course content by pointing to the need for end user engagement with Open Innovation discussed in Week 5. There were definitely several tiers of class involvement in the course, and I think that this can be related back, rather than to a laziness or unwillingness to be involved on those users who contributed less to the content of online debate, to the genuinely different online personae we have all developed. Some people are genuinely (myself included) naturally inclined toward passivity on the web (the “lurker” mentality seen on many aggregator sites), and the course is perhaps skewed toward an active user personality type because of the nature of its construction.

    Personal Experience

    My personal experience was overall positive. I noticed that all of our use of Twitter seemed more as a matter of filling a requirement, with genuine debate and discussion occurring via the forums. This may be due to the fact that several of the class (again, myself included!) were new to Twitter, and it is challenging to be asked to join a debate immediately via a new social media tool. Again, people may wish to be passive in a new medium at the start, to understand proper conduct by example.

    I also noticed how my version of the web had shrunk. By viewing links offered by the class moderator and my classmates, I realised that my web usage had shrunk to just five or six websites. This was something of which I was unaware, and something which I am trying to now actively challenge, as the danger of only accessing limited sites for news and social interaction is that a very limited view of the web is taken.
    Noticing the shrinking of the web

    Finally, my initial fears notwithstanding, our group collaborative piece worked out really well. I was involved in a great team, and we were all really happy with our levels of input and the final work achieved.


    In summation, my experience in taking this course was positive. I realised several things about myself, both in terms of my online persona, and how my web usage has narrowed. I think one challenge for the moderator for next year will be to work out how to balance engagement levels with the potentially damaging aspect of “forced interaction”, where users feel that they have to comment in order to achieve course credits. The course content was hugely interesting, and the forums worked particularly well at creating lively discussions.

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