Tag Archives: collective intelligence

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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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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