Monthly Archives: March 2012

Web Squared: Web 2.0 Five Years On

With under a week remaining in the course I have finally grasped the true concept of what Web 2.0 really is. Highlighted text in blue lettering on the first page of Tim O’Reilly and John Battelle’sWeb Squared: Web 2.0 Five Years Onexplains, “Web 2.0 is all about harnessing collective intelligence.” The most simple explanation I have seen to date, yet also the most logical and easy to understand. Today’s blog entry will examine how Web 2.0 focuses on collective intelligence and how all of these rapid changes will affect us as users. Before understanding Web 2.0 and the importance of collective intelligence, we must first examine collective intelligence.

Collective intelligence, arguably the main goal and fuel of Web 2.0 is defined as, “a shared or group intelligence that emerges from the collaboration and competition of many individuals.” For the World Wide Web, such a definition seems very fitting. As a person who has only been on the internet for a few years, personally I don’t believe I ever truly experienced the web before Web 2.0. Unfortunately for me, this makes it difficult to understand how the Internet looked and functionned prior to Web 2.0. Interestingly, the definition is somewhat similar to that of socialism, “a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole.” As both the definitions of collective intelligence and socialism stress, the final outcome is based entirely on the use of the community. In the case of Web 2.0, O’Reilly explains, “data is being collected, presented and acted upon in real time… participation has increased by orders of magnitude.” Without the support of the numerous users, Web 2.0 would likely fall apart just as socialism would if part of the community did not handle ownership and control correctly. As Web 2.0 has shown, websites which are focused on “harnessing collective intelligence” will thrive. Facebook, Twitter and Youtube are prime examples of sites which harness collective intelligence. A user uploads information about themselves whether it be pictures, videos or short text inserts and in doing so adds to the enormous base of collective intelligence. The same user can click onto other users pages to view what they have uploaded, and the circle continues endlessly. The question I ask, is a serious one which could undermine Web 2.0 as a movement entirely. What if people begin to lose interest in sites like Facebook, Twitter and Youtube? What if users begin to understand that all of this collective intelligence is being used by advertisement firms, Google and the government? Then what is Web 2.0? Although it seems that users show no signs of stopping now, these questions are just a few to consider when thinking abuot how Web 2.0 affects us as users.

In the “gold old days” a user would have to sit on their chair in their living room, go to Google and type in a few words to search for something. As O’Reilly explains, “the Web [is] geting smart enough to understand some things without us having to tell it explicitly.” At first glance a process like this may seem extremely useful to a user, but taking a step back and considering the implications of functioning like this on a daily basis raises some scary questions. Is the Web making us less human? If we no longer need to think for ourselves, have we completely succumb to the power of technology? As Siva Vaidyanathan explains in The Googlization of Everything, people no longer need to remember phone number or address. What’s next, will soon humans not even need to remember names or images because they have become so absurdly reliant upon the Web? These are some extreme dangers that essentially could occur due to Web 2.0, but I doubt we will see such any time soon. On the positive side of things, Web 2.0 may be bringing users closer to Vaidynathan’s hypothetical Human Knowledge project. Due to the nature of the Web, users across the world can exchange nearly limitless amouns of information. The more the community works towards positive collaboration and innovation, the better Web 2.0 will be.

For those like myself who never really experienced Web 1.0, it is difficult to fathom just how big of a change and saviour Web 2.0 has been. Web 2.0 revitalized the Internet during a time when it needed it most. It has turned the internet into a collaborative community who can exchange information at the click of a button. It has helping politicians, charities and many other types of real world issues. Like anything, too much of Web 2.0 will have negative reprucussions. As users must understand this and not let the Web turn us into robots. Insead, we should try our best to fulfill Siva Vaidynathan’s dream of The Human Knowledge Project. Web 2.0 really urges the user to question, what has the Web become? Users should also be asking themselves…

What Have We Turned Into?

– Ian McDougald

Photo:  http://www.catehuston.com/blog/2009/10/29/how-web-2-0-is-changing-the-way-we-communicate/

Works Cited

O’Reilly, Tim, and John Battelle. “Web Squared: Web 2.0 Five Years On.” O’Reilly Media, Inc. Web. 31 Mar. 2012. http://assets.en.oreilly.com/1/event/28/web2009_websquared-whitepaper.pdf.

Vaidhyanathan, Siva. The Googlization of Everything: (And Why We Should Worry). Berkeley: University of California, 2011. Print.

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The Web Is Dead. Long Live the Internet

As a heavy user of both the Internet and the Web, it is surprising to think that until I read Chris Anderson and Michael Wolff’s article, The Web Is Dead. Long Live the Internet I considered the two words synonymous. As the article explains, the two words are extremely different on numerous levels. Today’s blog entry will examine the key differences between the Internet and the Web, the different uses for both and have each of this platforms will look in and affect the future. To fully understand the article and this blog, we must begin by defining the two terms which will be frequently used, the Internet and the Web.

As defined by Google, the Internet is “A global computer network providing a variety of information and communication facilities, consisting of interconnected networks using standardized communication protocols.” At first thought, one may think the same definition would fit for the Web. When thinking of this definition, one must remember Web really stands for World Wide Web and as Princeton University explains, a “computer network consisting of a collection of internet sites that offer text and graphics and sound and animation resources through the hypertext transfer protocol.” After understanding these definitions, the difference between the two words becomes slightly more obvious. After all, the definition of the Web itself uses the word Internet right in it which should say something to readers. From this, and the idea presented by Anderson and Wolff that, “one [can] spen[d] the day on the Internet — but not on the Web”, we can conclude that the Internet can function without the Web, but the Web cannot without the Internet. The Internet and the Web can be compared to a battery and an iPod. The Internet represents the battery, which can exist on its own and has power to run other devices. The Web on the other hand, should be considered as the iPod, which runs on a battery (Internet) because without the power the battery offers, the iPod cannot function. This is the idea Anderson and Wolff were hoping to instill on readers when they commented on apps like Xbox Live, Netflix and Skype.

So now that we understand the difference between the Internet and the Web, we must ask ourselves what are the respective uses for both platforms? We will begin by examining that which is considered “dead” by Anderson and Wolff, the Web. Using the Web means physically sitting on your computer, using a browser such as Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox. As Anderson and Wolff explain, HTML is the dominant programming language for the Web, which is not the case for the Internet. Some daily tasks that could be accomplished using the Web might include posting on a Wiki or researching information. Since the Web is considered open, the idea is to access numerous websites easily. Recently, a statistic has shown that users are no longer accessing a big number of sites and instead, “the top 10 Web sites accounted for… about 75 percent [of pageviews] in 2010.” It is statistics like this that allow the Internet to prosper. The biggest website ever is Facebook, with over 500 million people connected to the social network. The reason the Internet is slowly killing the Web is because more and more users are accessing sites like Facebook through their “bedside iPads” or mobile phones. Using Facebook is only one the apps a user of the Internet can take part in. As Anderson and Wolff mention: Xbox Live, Skype, Twitter and Pandora are only a handful of the available options a user can indulge in without every accessing the World Wide Web. There is no doubt that the Internet and the Web have changed drastically, but how will these platforms look in and affect our future?

As Anderson and Wolff predict, the Web will likely die in the future. The pair point to a hypothesis by Morgan Stanley that suggests, “the number of users accessing the Net from mobile devices will surpass the number who access it from PCs… within five years.” Assuming Stanley’s assertion is true, the Web will certainly die. With that said, ridding the world of the personal computer will be difficult due to game likes World of Warcraft and League of Legends. The two games, which require a personal computer to play, cannot be played on handheld devices. The two games alone have a combined total of about twelve million players. For the personal computer to be completely abolished, games like this will somehow have to be moved to handheld devices, which will be no easy task. Like when most outdated forms of technology die, lovers of the old technology will attempt to keep it running only forcing a slow and extremely painful death. The death of the Web seems inevitable with companies like Apple quarterly reporting mobile phone sales in the double digit millions. Although the Web may have made the Internet popular, the Internet shows no signs of slowing. With sites like Facebook or Twitter and applications like Xbox Live or Pandora fuelling the Internet through handheld devices the popularity of the Internet on handheld devices will only grow.

For the majority of users, losing the Web won’t be a terrible loss. A person like myself who has a general love for my personal computer and plays World of Warcraft and League of Legends will have serious problems parting with their computer. Unfortunately, it seems inevitable that one day this will occur. More and more people are accessing the Internet through “the screen that comes to them” which is slowly killing the Web and drastically changing the idea of computing as a whole. As for Stanley’s prediction of five years, I believe (and hope) it takes longer than this for the personal computer to be abolished, but only time will tell. In times of drastic change like this one can only ask questions. What has technology become? What will come next? And of course…

What Have We Turned Into?

– Ian McDougald

Photo: http://mywindowshelp.com/2011/windows-help-for-network-errors/

Works Cited

Anderson, Chris, and Michael Wolff. “The Web Is Dead. Long Live the Internet.”Wired.com. Conde Nast Digital, 17 Aug. 2010. Web. 30 Mar. 2012. <http://www.wired.com/magazine/2010/08/ff_webrip/all/1&gt;.

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Loser Generated Content: From Participation to Exploitation

Well, I guess I’m a loser. I guess billions of people around the world are losers for that matter. Todays blog entry will examine a paper written by Søren Mørk Petersen called Loser Generated Content: From Participation to Exploitation. More specifically, the entry will examine three claims made by Petersen. Firstly, we will examine Petersen’s claim of relational thinking and how this relates to Web 2.0. Next, we will look at general intellect and capitalism, subjects raised often by Petersen throughout the paper. Finally, we will analyze Petersen’s harsh criticisms of Web 2.0 and its users. Petersen who claims Web 2.0 is “transforming users into losers” makes numerous valid claims, but also leaves himself open to various criticisms as well.

Relational thinking is never specifically defined by Petersen. He does offer an example about Flickr attempting to explain the concept, but even after this attempt one may still be confused. As outlined on the official Relational Thinking website there are three steps to relational thinking. Step one, “learning to see public policy and personal issues through a relational lens.” Step two, “changing goals, values and practices of organisations.” Finally, step three, “developing an analytical framework appropriate to relationships.” After understanding this outline, Petersen’s example begins to make more sense. Each of his three steps on Flickr represent a step in the relational thinking process. With that said, I don’t know how many people on Flickr take this three step process when uploading an image. Personally, I don’t have Flickr so I can’t speak for myself, but I can’t imagine that each and every Flickr user is so concerned with the relations that are created through uploading a photo. Even more confidently I can assume that it is rare for a Flickr user to “be contacted by other parties who would like to include the photo in a magazine or a Web 2.0 tourist guide” (Petersen). Examining such a claim leaves me feeling somewhat insulted to be called a loser, and I certainly don’t feel assertions regarding general intellect or capitalism should induce such name calling either.

Petersen makes a strong, passionate assertion when he states, “automation and hereby the mobilization of the general intellect are primarily fostered by machinery, infrastructure and communication technologies”. A valid statement which undoubtedly most people can relate too. When Petersen furthers his assumptions to suggest, “this creates the capitalistic vision of a world market but at the same time, according to Marx, also creates a capitalistic nightmare”, our agreement ends. To jump to the conclusion that our expanding automation and mobilization are creating a world market is extremely fallacious through cause and effect. There is no denying that automation and mobilization are occurring, I believe less would say the same about the capitalistic vision of a world market. Even assuming both of the cases were inevitable, it is fallacious to directly tie A to B without adequate justification between the two. Surely Web 2.0, rapid growth of technology and automation have had a serious impact on capitalism and the economy as a whole, but I highly doubt that this alone will lead to “capitalistic nightmare.” Two claims down and I am still considered a loser? Is it really Web 2.0 that has made us “losers” or have ‘users always been losers’ to the corporation?

There is no doubt that numerous people put plenty of time into their personal profiles on Facebook, Flickr, MySpace, etc. Sure these are online and sometimes just for fun, but in many cases are important professional ways of being seen or even making a few dollars from home. These services must of course be provided through companies who host the sites, and the goal of any corporation is of course, profit. In exchange for the services provided by the companies, users are shown advertisements, which are often targeted directly to the user based on recent clicks. Additionally, on rare occasions the companies may ask you to use a picture or some piece of information you provided on your profile. This doesn’t sound much different than similar companies who don’t exist online. Readers Digest for example, encourages readers to send them pictures or stories which they will use in upcoming copies of the magazine. Like most magazines, RD contains advertisements and numerous people are still willing to pay for the newest addition. So does this make users losers? Or is this simple a part of being society? To live, someone will always be making money from the human race. In turn, they will spend their money on a product which will bring money to someone else. The economic wheel is endless and Web 2.0 is only a small part of this, not a deadly database of losers.

So call me a loser if you wish Mr. Petersen. Personally, I believe I am just a contributing member of society. A society which has begun to move online. A society which is changing and evolving at an alarming rate. A society, where labour is being replaced by technology yet we are still functioning properly. The world has gone through numerous massive changes and Web 2.0 is just a very small phase which will likely pass sooner rather than later, to make fallacious assumptions that Web 2.0 will lead to “capitalistic nightmare”, in my opinion Mr. Petersen, makes you the loser.

Although, your claims do raise one very good question…

What Have We Turned Into

– Ian McDougald

Photo: http://www.freeiconsdownload.com/Free_Downloads.asp?id=548

Works Cited

Petersen, Søren Mørk. “Loser Generated Content: From Participation to Exploitation.”www.firstmonday.org. First Monday, 3 Mar. 2008. Web. 29 Mar. 2012. <http://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/2141/1948&gt;.

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Market Ideology and the Myths of Web 2.0

So what is Web 2.0? Like Trebor Scholz, I ask why has “the definition morphed over time” (Scholz). Certainly many people envision an ideal Web 2.0, but does this or can this really exist? In 2008 when Market Ideology and the Myths of Web 2.0 was written they certainly didn’t know exactly what Web 2.0 was, and it appears four years later the true definition has yet to be pinpointed.

In 2005, Tim O’Reilly attempted to explain what Web 2.0 was, or is attempting to be. O’Reilly pointed out seven major parts, or goals of Web 2.0: The Web As Platform, Harnessing Collective Intelligence, Data Is The Next Intel Inside, End of the Software Release Cycle, Lightweight Programming Models, Software Above the Level of a Single Device and Rich User Experiences (O’Reilly). Some of his predictions may have been accurate, especially when he suggested that Google would be the future of the internet. On the other hand, some of his predictions certainly were incorrect with no mention of now ginormous social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter on the subject of “personal websites” (O’Reilly). With too many false or unthinkable predictions, O’Reilly brings me no closer to understanding the definition of Web 2.0.

The question I ask is, are we just simply over thinking Web 2.0? Like many other technologies of the past, has the Web just evolved into something different than it used to be? The television changed from having only a handful of channels in black and white to now having hundreds of channels in colour. The radio has changed so drastically that some think in the near future it may not even exist without the internet (Saul). Is it to simple to suggest that the internet is simply going through a technological evolution just as those mediums before it has? With the internet having billions of users, I don’t think it would be fallacious to think that this is the case. The internet has changed because of its users, not because the corporations have tendered it to act a certain way. Web 2.0 is a product of evolved users of Web 1.0 and this is why it appears that, “the desires and needs of young users seem to match neatly with the needs of corporaties” (Scholz). Corporations haven’t changed the internet in a way that its users are now forced to indulge in the available product, instead users have shown corporations what they are interested in and allowed them to market directly to them. In many ways, this is actually much better for the corporation and much easier for the consumer.

In the end, Scholz makes a very powerful point and encourages the reader to, “re–imagine the Social Web as a place for unmarketed, non–mainstream projects that caters to all needs of those who inhabit it (Scholz). Unfortunately, I doubt the internet will ever see such a time. The Web itself is a product, a product which billions of people have and will continue to, invest time and money in. The corporations have become aware of this and are using the power of the Internet to market their products directly to us. Whether Web 2.0 is a product created ideologically by corporations, or it has simply evolved from the content produced by its users, there is no doubt that the World Wide Web will continue to exist as a part of business, technology and culture. The paradigm raises two extremely serious questions what has and will the Internet turn into, and of course…

What Have We Turned Into?

– Ian McDougald

Photo: http://folusho.com/exploring-web-2-0-social-media-networking-and-web-2-0/

Works Cited

Scholz, Trebor. “Market Ideology and the Myths of Web 2.0.” First Monday. 3 Mar. 2008. Web. 24 Mar. 2012.

O’Reilly, Tim. “What Is Web 2.0.” O’Reilly: Spreading the Knowledge of Innovators. O’Reilly Media, Inc, 30 Sept. 2005. Web. 24 Mar. 2012.

Saul, Brad. “The Future of Radio.” G Plus. Gerson Lehrman Group, 08 Jan. 2009. Web. 24 Mar. 2012.

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We Invented The Remix

“The remix is nothing less than a new way to communicate. It requires you to do nothing more than change the way you look at something” (Mason, 80-81).

As an aspiring DJ and music producer, the idea of remix culture is very prevalent. Personally, I think a good remix can only make something better. Surely, the entertainment corporations might disagree, but that’s more likely because they hadn’t been able to create successful, profitable remixes. Today’s blog entry will examine how remixing affects originality and how remixing has affected our  culture.

In his book, The Pirates Dilemma, Matt Mason wrote, “the remix can and has devalued the idea of the original idea” (Mason, 84). When suggesting such, Mason was referring to entertainment corporations focusing less on original ideas and more so on remix ideas. In such context, the quote makes perfect sense. But, in many cases, a remix is just using a past product and applying a new original idea to it. For example, the song Good Feeling, by Flo-Rida is essentially a remix of a remix. The original song, Something’s Got a Hold on Me, by Etta James was remixed by Avicii in his club hit, Levels. Flo-Rida then built on the success of Avicii’s hit by remixing it into Good Feeling. With that being said, the final product of Good Feeling was still an original work. The definition of original can be thought of as: “new, fresh, inventive, novel” or “created, undertaken, or presented for the first time”. With that being said, it would appear that both Levels and Good Feeling are original. They both were new and fresh, also they both were the first presentation of a specific remix. In this case, the rights were acquired legally and the money is divided fairly. A powerful artist like Flo-Rida or Avicii have both the money and the power to acquire such rights and create an excellent remix. Many people can, and have remixed big songs like Levels, but the legality of doing so is the difference between Flo-Rida and the numerous YouTube users you who remixed the song.

A YouTube search of the word ‘remix’ returns an astounding 2,380,000 results. That just goes to show just how much the general public have become DJ’s, VJ’s and editors of media. There have been more remixed works recently due solely to one thing: technology. Without technology, the idea of a remix would require expensive equipment, a vast knowledge or the medium of which you are remixing and more. Thanks to technology like Virtual DJ and iMovie remixing music and video is simple enough that an everyday computer user can do it. With everybody remixing, one would think that the quality of available remixes wouldn’t be very good. Interestingly, this is not true. Even remixes found on YouTube, or music sharing sites like Beatport have brought forth some of dance music’s now biggest stars including Avicii, Nicky Romero and Hardwell. A remix is almost like a theory. In science, a theory is proposed and tested. If possible changes can be made to improve the original theory, they are implemented to make a new, better theory (Woodward and Goodstein). In some ways, remixing does just this. Takes an original product, and changes it with the intent of improving it, or showing it to a different audience. The fact that we have become a remix culture cannot be resisted, because even unknowingly, we are apart of it.

This remix culture shows no time of slowing down, but like many other technological dilemmas it raises the question; what’s next? At some point in time there will be a remix of everything, and you can only do so many parodies, remixes and edits before there is no original content remaining. If the entertainment industry continues to focus on remixing, like the public does, there will be no artists left to produce completely new content for people to remix. Some think the remix culture is a problem, others think it is excellent, the truth is the remix culture is a phase, no more than a paradigm, and we are just waiting for it to end so we can move to the next paradigm.

With that said, remixing certainly has, and will leave its mark on us. It might even make us ask ourselves…

What Have We Turned Into?

– Ian McDougald

Photo: http://www.ftw-design.com

Works Cited

Mason, Matt. The Pirate’s Dilemma: How Youth Culture Reinvented Capitalism. New York: Free, 2008. Print.

Woodward, James, and David Goodstein. “Conduct, misconduct and the structure of science.” American Scientist 84.5 (1996): 479+. Academic OneFile. Web. 20 Mar. 2012.

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The Googlization of Memory and Higher Education

“Information, once rare and cherished like caviar, is now plentiful and taken for granted like potatoes” (Vaidhyanathan, 175).

David Shenk, the original author of such quote (Shenk, 9), embodies the problem and the best quality of Google in one simple sentence. Google is possibly the greatest database of information ever. Millions upon millions of Webpages of information become available in often under one second. While some may consider this convenient or even an excellent way to receive information, have “Googlers” began to treat information like Shenk’s hypothetical potatoes? This blog will examine how information, and how it is received has changed, specifically focusing on memory, education and research.

In some ways it is nice to think that Google is always going to be there for people. It is very helpful of course, when one must quickly identify the address of a restaurant for example, or a phone number for that restaurant. The fact that Google can now essentially be carried everywhere with a person through tablets and smart-phones may seem even more convenient, but is this simple accessibility a fair trade for our once cherished memory? Like Vaidhyanathan, many people have trouble remembering little things like phone numbers. To think that Google has nothing to do with that is preposterous. In the past, people would read books, newspapers, fliers etc. and receiving information this way helped build their memory. Tasks like this took time and focus, Googling a small phrase to get the same result does not. As a race, humans have wired their brains to receive information quickly and retain very little. Google is at the forefront of this problem because they have convinced users that Google will always be there for them whenever and wherever they are. The same problem is occurring in the education system, where students are turning to Google more often then their classrooms.

Many people believe they can learn very much from Google. “Learning by definition is an encounter with that you don’t know, what you haven’t thought of, what you couldn’t conceive, and what you never understood or entertained as possible” (Vaidhyanathan, 182). Under this definition provided by Vaidhyanathan, it would appear that users of Google aren’t really learning much at all. This is because in recent years, Google has focused on “personalizing” searches based on a users Google history (Vaidhyanathan, 183). So really, if a user is seeking knowledge, they are never really receiving something they completely “don’t know” or “haven’t thought of” because the results of their search will be tailored to the user based on their past searches. For example, if I was to search, “The Human Genome Project”, my results would be tailored based on my past searches of “The Human Knowledge Project” and “The Googlization of Everything.” Arguments such as this can only make one agree with Vaidhyanathan’s criticism of Jeff Jarvis, who suggested that “higher education follow the contours of Google” (Vaidhyanathan, 184). Jarvis argues that higher education research should be more “collaborative and open” (Vaidhyanathan, 184), but how would this be possible when each students research would be different based on their past searches? In response, Vaidhyanathan points out an ironic point; Google actually appears to be more like a university than a corporate information database (Vaidhyanathan, 186). Instead it almost appears that Google is following the ways of a university instead of the opposite that Jarvis recommends.

 Arguably two of the most important things in professional human life, memory and higher education have been dramatically influenced and changed by Google. Our memory may never be the same thanks to Google, which has rewired our brains to expect information quickly. Higher education will never be the same, more and more students will turn to Google and services like Google Scholar instead of divulging into the massive collection of texts which possess a nearly endless amount of information. Instead of attending classes students will instead attempt to Google their way through university and college, and unfortunately sometimes it may work. One can only hope that Jeff Jarvis’ “Google School” will never exist, but at the pace we’re travelling at now, it wouldn’t be a major surprise.

Google and it’s information have changed our memory, higher education and more. It really makes one wonder…

What Have We Turned Into?

– Ian McDougald

Photo: http://www.impactlab.net/2012/01/25/internet-is-our-main-source-of-memory-instead-of-our-own-brains/

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Works Cited

Shenk, David. Data Smog: Surviving the Information Glut. San Francisco, CA: Harper Edge, 1997. Print.

Vaidhyanathan, Siva. The Googlization of Everything: (And Why We Should Worry). Berkeley: University of California, 2011. Print.

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