Where is Web 2.0 Taking Us?

I’m in two minds about “Web 2.0” right now. On the one hand extending the “social construction of knowledge” into the webosphere invites new opportunities to generate extraordinary economic returns through novel applications that extend current forms of media. On the other hand the apparent proliferation and accessibility of these new media could be their downfall.

Don’t get me wrong, I love having Google and Wikipedia at my fingertips, I’ve set up and managed virtual communities and I’ve done business with people and corporations via my computer. I’m also flattered that anyone would be remotely interested in my opinions but – how much of all of this is useful knowledge? With the increasing disintermediation of media content, traditional checks and balances on appropriateness, importance and veracity are stripped away. I cannot be certain that anything I find on the Internet is truthful and I certainly cannot trust anyone online until I meet them in person and get to know them.

I’m not saying that these problems didn’t exist before, but I’m suggesting that the Internet multiplies the problem for us significantly. Are we being naive about where Web 2.0 is taking us?

[tags]Web 2.0, Internet, knowledge, virtual reality, online communities[/tags]

6 thoughts on “Where is Web 2.0 Taking Us?

  1. Paul – I think we have little idea of where Web 2.0 could take us actually because the possibilities are so numerous… without going into the usual ‘who would have guessed 10 years ago’ thinking ahead can take us into so many different directions – all at once – that it is hard to focus on individual ones. We are developing applications for most of human behaviour to happen online – from those carried out in isolation to those requiring deep interactions and social involvement.

    I – unlike what you describe – enjoy the process of trust building that happens when two people who did not previously know each other, start interacting online and discover common interests and passions. Sure there will be situations where this is abused but exercising sound judgment will always be needed – the tools and vehicles offered by the present Web environment and those that Web 2.0 will allow will give us way more choices in the matter though!

    What each chooses to do with these choices…

  2. I’ve no doubt that we have only just scratched the surface in terms of what is possible. I’m sure my young son and his peers will grow up entirely comfortable with virtual reality.

    I guess I have two concerns right now. The first is that the Internet is still in its infancy and looks a bit like the Wild West in terms of structure and governance. At present it is way too easy to become an online snake oil salesman. My second concern is that it seems like the more we network online, the less connected we become in real life.

    I think we need to educate the next generation of Web users so that they can find an appropriate balance. Anyway…must dash…I have a real life lunch meeting…to talk about building interactive digital content for school kids. How ironic.

  3. It’s true that people build relationships with other individuals online, but there are some real dangers with that – all the scams and scamsters we hear too much about. Also, face-to-face meetings have a very different quality from online ones – relationships that work well in one context don’t always work well in another.

    There are some controls on behaviour online that can help you to trust people for particular purposes. Think of public figures or organisations with reputations and careers to protect; people who are easily-traced (eg who give their real names and physical addresses) in the real world and therefore subject to real-world sanctions; and people whose online reputations matter for their online activity (used to good effect in Trademe and dating websites).

  4. What I have found is that you can leverage virtual networks very successfully, provided you temper those relationships with face-to-face (F2F) meetings from time to time.

    Trading sites use community self-moderation as a way of limiting abuse, but there is always the possibility of duplicitous or criminal behaviour. Dating sites are now unfortunately getting an unpleasant reputation for harbouring married men looking to prey upon single women.

  5. Pingback: Genius Net » Blog Archive » Making Sense of P2P Content

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