Web 2.0 & Societal Changes, Take Two

Ok, I started the last post because Beth Unger tells me she is working on the following question —

“What are the societal changes that could occur as a result of the technologies like Web 2.0 that will blur our current views of interaction?” As she says, the issues of personal attribution, contribution, identity and responsibility all come to the fore. She is interested in who is working in this arena and what they’re saying. I thought I’d throw it out and get a discussion going. I forgot to include that part in my last post because she is such an awesome lady I got carried away talking about her! At any rate, let’s talk about web 2.0 and societal change. Thanks!

6 thoughts on “Web 2.0 & Societal Changes, Take Two

  1. Jane Dysart

    I started this conversation on SLA’s Information Technology Division list too and here’s Mary Ellen Bates comments from there.

    Although I tend to be a skeptic about the societal impact of [insert latest web fad], I do think that Web 2.0 changes the info-sphere. It’s not so much how we interact but who interacts. Most email discussion groups and BBSs (and yes, I’m still on The Well – http://www.well.com) do “pay” participants by attention. That is, if someone says something thoughtful, it elicits lots of responses. If someone says something that sounds dumb or clueless, they’re often just ignored, hence not “paid” attention to. That means that people who are able to express their thoughts well in ASCII are better paid than those who may have a lot of knowledge and ideas but don’t work well in a forum / BBS environment.

    However, blogs are a medium of expression for people who may have a lot to say but don’t have the time or interest in participating in an email discussion list, or who want more “space” to expand on their ideas than is appropriate for a list. A personal example is my brother. He’s a film director and wouldn’t be a listserv participant in a million years. But he’s built a great blog that has brought him some significant business over the years. He’s got a lot to say, and has found a medium that enables him to express his thoughts. ( http://www.porkfist.com/ if you want to peruse his thoughts)

    And wikis are ways that people can share their knowledge and expertise in a very unthreatening way. No one will say “what a stupid post” or “look at all those typos”. Instead, people can insert their own words into a wiki, enhance the cumulative knowledge base, and do so in an unassuming way.

    As I type this, I realize that blogs and wikis are polar opposites in terms of who they work for. Blogs are for people who have something to say and want a place to say it, separate from other conversations. Wikis are for people who wish to contribute behind the scenes, building something organically. Both are great media; I just find it interesting that they are so different in terms of the flavor of the contribution.

  2. Jane Dysart

    More from the SLA, ITE list
    For me, the conversations changed with the 2.0 technologies and tools.
    The conversations have gotten bigger (in terms of the number of people participating).
    The conversations have more depth and breadth, because the tools give us that ability.
    The conversations are longer.
    The conversations are independent of place and time.
    The conversations can be archived for later use.
    Local society changes because the conversations that impact it are global and not just filled with local voices. Global society changes because more local voices (ideas, etc.) can be heard.

    Not sure if this is the type of answer you wanted, but it’s want came to mind.

    Jill Hurst-Wahl
    Hurst Associates, Ltd., http://www.HurstAssociates.com
    Digitization 101 blog, http://www.Digitization101.com

  3. Jane Dysart

    Thanks for starting the converstaions, Mary Ellen and Jill.
    I’m also thinking about these new Web 2.0 tools as easy ways to create web pages. I started the Infobuzzz blog more than three years ago so that the front page of the D&J web site would change and have something different on it. And now I love the pics I can add! Since I’m not an HTML jockey it’s been great. And I’ve created a number of wikis for groups (for example, for conferences like http://cil2007.pbwiki.com) which also are really easy. If you haven’t created one, check out pbwiki.com and create one — no cost, and pb stands for peanut butter — they’re as easy to create as a peanut butter sandwich.

  4. Jane Dysart

    You’re absolutely right, Jill, it is all about conversations.
    But now, I’m thinking they’re not all longer and more indepth — some of them are shorter and faster, as per Facebook. Again, another tool to try and Jill and I are both on there so if you are too, let’s connect. It’s easy to let friends know where you are and what’s the latest with you. Another interesting way to have conversations.

    And then there’s all the user generated content like on Flickr and YouTube. If you’re going to Buying & Selling eContent, Scottsdale, March 25-7. I’m facilitating a roundtable on user generated content, so come and join me! We can have a conversation F2F.

  5. Alex Grigg

    Web 2.0 has certainly changed the way we all can access global information. People that are thousands of miles away from each other have an extraodinary variety of ways to find other people that have information they need or points of view they share. The biggest societal change is that the world has and still is continuing to become a bigger and bigger web of people. As an example, once you set up your MySpace account it is increasingly difficult to find any other MySpace user who is not in your extended network of friends of friends. I’ve also had the experience of having old high school friends contact me out of the blue because of a blog post I made somewhere.

    I think that is the real societal change that is occurring. It is becoming harder and harder to be alone and disconnected from other people in the virtual or even real world (think of the ever-present cell phones). You have to make a considerable conscious effort to keep yourself disconnected.

    This continual connectedness brings about some of the more obvious societal changes that have been occurring recently. Every online statement is “on the record” and it is an increasingly valuable service to be able to sift through the vast public record effectively. Gore’s ex-bloggers are a good example of are increasing inability to hide from our pasts. I can only imagine the amount of dirt available on politicians in another 10 or 20 years.

    The real societal question is going to be whether we accept that everyone is at least a little dirty, or whether people increasingly try to distance themselves from their pasts. Everybody is headed for rehab now and we’re supposed to believe that they come out clean and new, absolved of all past crimes and indiscretions.

    All interactions are now open to the public.

    Enjoy the show!

  6. Jon

    The real societal question is going to be whether we accept that everyone is at least a little dirty, or whether people increasingly try to distance themselves from their pasts. Everybody is headed for rehab now and we’re supposed to believe that they come out clean and new, absolved of all past crimes and indiscretions.

    All interactions are now open to the public.

    Enjoy the show!

    Isn’t this life, in all its glory ?

    I think we are beginning to realize now that without hyperlinks, we would all be doomed to knowing only what the “machine” of governments, corporations and coroprate media tell us.

    Of course things will get and stay messy. Life is messy.

    Of course we will learn much about what we did not want to, or need to, know .. mainly about other peoples’ little lives.

    On the other hand, we also get to see what’s going on, and why, in other peoples’ great big lives.

    The main point, I think, is that if “knowledge is power”, we will all have to learn how to exercise greater critical thinking and engagement than we seem to have done over the past twenty or thirty years. Power will be (is being) decentralized on a large scale. The antibodies to that emitted by the “machine” are now out in full force.

    But if you give people the capanbilities to exercise voice, and help them to share information, this is what will happen.

    Why should only a small group of people “at the top” of societies and organizations make all the decisions ? Who made up the rules to this game of life, anyway?

    It’s the scaffolding of knowledge and meaning afforded by the net and blogs that is important. The genie seems to be out of the bottle, and who will dare to try stuffing it back in ?

    My sense is that it is now dawning on people that these are the conditions that will accompany us all into our individual and collective futures.

    Go watch Pleasantville, a light-hearted movie that contains nary a computer, for the optimistic positive aspect of what an interconnected interlinked society or societies can bring us .. the mass customization of life.

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