DeadGuyQuotes's Blog

American History in the Making

Web 2.0! We don’t need no stinking Web 2.0!


Partly as a result of the conversation ZaYna (yes, I am her friend and I have a chronic spelling problem) and I have been having off-and-on this semester, and partly as a coalescing of my own ramblings, I offer my own definition of Web 2.0 for our consideration.

Web 2.0 is:

  1. Less a technological construct and more a social construct.
  2. An environment of collaboration and openness.
  3. Dependent on, but not limited by, open, logical, essential technical standards – the antithesis of proprietary models. (Linux, for example is a computer operating system like Windows or MAC which does not belong to any particular company and is based on an open language and essential core, called a kernel. Anyone can learn how to build applications for Linux and can publish them… Wikipedia exists in the same, open framework where anyone can publish).
  4. An environment where there are no rules, only what can be considered fundamental scientific laws… essentially the very basic programming schtuff acting like irrefutable gravity, and where you are free to express, collaborate, or share as you see fit.
  5. Much like the Douglas Adam’s babel fish , Web 2.0 can serve as ubiquitous translation and sharing point for information.
  6. A playground with no walls where everyone is invited and there is enough room on the merry-go-round for all.

The question remains, and Bell’s essay examines, how to we structure an essentially unstructured playground and make it suitable for academic discourse?

Bell offers a great example in his discussion about the Gutenberg-e Prize and what it can mean for a significant shift in hyper-textual scholarship and rigorous peer review. In addition to that, we have to examine our responsibilities as historians. We have to exercise discipline in our writing and our peer review. We have to write clearly and research rigorously. Through hyper-textualization, we can provide direct access to our primary resources. This requires careful consideration of our conclusions as all of our source material can be open to scrutiny. This can provide for far superior writing.

The danger lies in blogs, emails, and twitters. Web 2.0’s lack of structure opens a wide door for lazy, rapid-fire, ill-considered writings. There are advantages in rapid response, and world-wide broadcasting, but there are significant risks, namely to our reputations.

Web 2.0 is a utopian dream without artificial superstructures imposing hierarchy and arbitrary information channels and filters. To be taken seriously, the policing of such a “wild-west” atmosphere must be taken up by each denizen of the new utopia.

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October 6, 2009 - Posted by | Clio I - History and New Media | , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Carl,
    You are right on. One point that I would emphasize is the development of the open standards allows Web 2.0 to go beyond “the Web” and allow other technologies to take advantage of information that is on the web. The Apple iPhone is a great example. There marketing phrase “There’s an app for that,” only exists because of the information available on the web. That information is only available if applications can communicate between themselves. There is an app which allows you to take a picture of a UPC code on an item in a store. It searches information that other stores have put on the web and tells you the cheapest place to get that item that is close to you. Whereas in Web 1.0 a store did not have a reason to put their geolocation on their web site with all their items and prices, now they do. The information by itself is not important until it is mashed up with an application that can use it by delivering it to a user.

    So I see Web 2.0 as not only an open community for users but an open community for the applications themselves.

    Comment by theoldscholar | October 6, 2009 | Reply


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