[Air-l] Web 2.0 - "the machine is us?"

Lois Ann Scheidt lscheidt at indiana.edu
Wed Feb 14 07:40:30 PST 2007


If you use a basic definition of social networking as “a social 
structure made of nodes which are generally individuals or 
organizations. It indicates the ways in which they are connected 
through various social familiarities ranging from casual acquaintance 
to close familial bonds” (2007, February 14).  Then the creation and 
existence of such communication networks dates back to the early days 
of computer networking (see Kleinrock, n.d.).

So what is the difference between “pre-Web 1.0,” and “Web 2.0”?  I 
believe you can sum it up in two words
access and purpose.  Early CMC 
was limited to a select few people with access to the linked computer 
systems necessary for communication and the knowledge, skills, and 
abilities to use the systems.  Of course, in many of these early 
communications, the systems were not only the tools for the actual 
contact but the reason the contact was required.

Today many more people have access to the technologies needed to make 
online connections, while I won’t say that connection is universally 
available we are much closer to that dream then we were in 1969.   
Likewise, as the use of technology has simplified more people can use 
the systems without having intimate knowledge of how the systems they 
are using actually work.  Particularly, in my teenage research 
population, most all of the teens from developed countries have access 
to computers at some point during their week.  So many more people are 
available to make connections then were available in the early days of 
networked computing.

Of course now many of these computer users go online specifically to 
make and maintain their human connections.  For many of them 
communication has become their primary purpose for accessing computer 
systems.  The teens I talk with go online to blog, to rate music and 
films, to post videos on YouTube (where networks are created around 
specific videos and the videographers themselves), and to make new 
friends or to talk to their old friends
among many other ways that they 
connect and maintain their connections electronically
while they do 
“search” for information it is not the reason they regularly go online. 
  For them the idea that early CMC was about the systems themselves 
seems quaint and pretty boring, they connect electronically through 
many sites/systems around many topics and many people.

Current social networking technology allows for more variety of 
connection but the basics of networking remain the same.  So it seems 
to me that the discussion should be less about “Web 2.0” and more about 
the number of potential nodes, particularly nodes with limited computer 
programming skills, and the reasons why these nods exist online.

Reference List

Social network (2007, February 14). Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. 
Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_networking

Kleinrock, Leonard (n.d.). The Day the Infant Internet Uttered its 
First Words. Leonard Kleinrock's Home Page. Retrieved February 14, 
2007, from http://www.lk.cs.ucla.edu/LK/Inet/1stmesg.html

Lois Ann Scheidt

Doctoral Student - School of Library and Information Science, Indiana
University, Bloomington IN USA

Adjunct Instructor - School of Informatics, IUPUI, Indianapolis IN USA and
IUPUC, Columbus IN USA

Webpage:  http://www.loisscheidt.com
Blog:  http://www.professional-lurker.com




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