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

Jill Walker jill.walker at uib.no
Tue Feb 13 07:12:04 PST 2007

I used this video to start my class on blogging last week - and yes,  
it worked very well as a discussion-starter.

I think one of the most encouraging things about this video is that  
it's made by an academic - Michael Wesch is an Associate Professor of  
anthropology and is doing research on "digital anthropology". He said  
he was writing a conference paper and felt that it would be so much  
more obvious to use the medium to express the ideas - and certainly  
that was a great way of getting some of these ideas out there. The  
video's been the most linked-to video (according to technorati.com)  
for the past week (over 5000 blogs link to it), it's the most viewed  
this month on YouTube's science and technology category and has  
nearly a million views.

That's pretty awesome for an academic presentation of any kind!

It's also an example of a presentation that performs that which it's  
talking about - performative research, if you like. And while there  
are clearly many things not dealt with in the video (it's only 4 and  
a half minutes long) it grapples with some major issues - just the  
claims and counterclaims about what paper permits as a medium does  
are wonderful.

Does anyone know of other examples of academics who've made things  
online like this that actually do have some academic content and that  
have become wildly popular?


Jill Walker
Associate Professor, Dept of Humanistic Informatics, University of  
Bergen, Norway

> Wesch does an excellent job in a brief presentation of providing a
> tentative definition of 'Web 2.0' and hinting at its possible
> impacts. He does not attempt to provide a clear explanation of the
> ways in which Web 2.0 is distinctly different from 'social software'
> that has been around on the Internet since the beginning (Usenet,
> mailing lists, collaboratively authored FAQs etc) nor does he discuss
> the implications of the fact that Web 2.0 users are still a minority
> of users and active Web 2.0 contribution is largely the work of a
> still smaller minority (something I recently posted about in more
> detail on the Media at LSE weblog here):
> http://groupblog.workasone.net/archives/2007/02/overstating-the-
> significance-of-web-20/
> But of course a 5 minute video is not a paper so that would be too
> much to expect - the video would make an excellent starting point for
> discussion of these issues in a classroom.
> ---
> David Brake, Doctoral Student in Media and Communications, London
> School of Economics & Political Science
> <http://www.lse.ac.uk/collections/media@lse/study/
> mPhilPhDMediaAndCommunications.htm>
> Also see http://davidbrake.org/ (home page), http://blog.org/
> (personal weblog) and http://get.to/lseblog (academic groupblog)
> Author of Dealing With E-Mail - <http://davidbrake.org/
> dealingwithemail/>
> callto://DavidBrake (Skype.com's Instant Messenger and net phone)
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