Blogging. Skyping. Instant messaging. Podcasting. Facebook. YouTube. RSS Feeds. Second Life. Wikipedia. Shall I go on?
If you are reading this blog, you may have some notion of how these new darlings of cyberspace – along with a host of brothers, sisters and cousins – are revolutionizing the way people connect with one another. You’ve probably also noticed that they seem to be sneaking their way in to every corner of private and public life, from your teenager’s social agenda to a visit from grandma via Web cam; from the campaign trail to the news anchor’s desk. Even Stéphane Dion has 11,613 Facebook friends!
What does it all mean? Where is it all going? Who’s driving this rollercoaster anyway? Well… We are! Welcome to Web 2.0 and the world of the “Social Web”. A world where Internet technology is increasingly interactive, conversational and participatory. A world where “prosumers” have the power to produce and consume inform
ation simultaneously. A world where meaning is layered, distributed, constructed, deconstructed and reconstructed. A world where “community” means “you and I connected”, not necessarily “you and I together”. A world where strangers bare their soul to each other across time zones and continents… without leaving the comfort of their respective homes. I know, I know. It’s all a bit crazy, really… Exciting and scary too… We are like children who have gotten their hot little hands on a big brother or sister’s shiny new toy, without parental supervision!
Web 2.0 is just warming up. We haven’t even seen the best of it yet. And after that will come Web 3.0! While the critiques of this cyber-progress (often rightly) point out that for all this “connectedness”, people are increasingly individualistic and isolated, the Web is here to stay… The onus is therefore on us to harness the power of these tools in a way that is positive, productive and responsible, so as to serve the greater good. After all, look at the web of knowledge and ideas that the political, scientific and literary luminaries of the 18th and 19th century managed to spread across the world using their parchment and quills… Imagine what we could do with this digital quill!
– Manon Abud –